Department Director Stars On Family Birth Center Stage

How do you become what you’ve always known you wanted to be? When from the time you were five years old, you lined up your dolls like newborn babies in nursery row at the hospital—and that fascination leads you to become a bit of a bookworm who daydreams about reading bedtime stories to as many real babies as the room can hold? For Shawndel R. Laughner, R.N., BSN, MHA—and eighteen additional letters worth of certification—you become a labor
and delivery nurse.

“I’ve got that ‘lifelong learner’ mentality, where I want to become the best version of myself and squeeze every ounce of potential out of my career,” she says. And for the Richeyville, PA, native— who still lives in the farmhouse she grew up in—that relentless spirit comes from her father. “He was so motivated to provide for our family, and it really resonated with me that this is what you do: whatever it takes to set the stage for the next generation.”

Laughner stepped onto the Family Birth Center scene more than twenty years ago as a Registered Staff Nurse, after five years of private practice OB/GYN nursing service in Greenwich, CT. It was time to start her own family and move back home. “More than coming back to the area, I wanted to find a place that shared my commitment to quality patient care, personal growth, and team development. Being from here, I knew what St. Clair was all about—with the added bonus of working in a more intimate setting focused on personalized patient care,” she says.

As a labor and delivery nurse, Laughner’s role was all-encompassing— from personifying expertise at the moment of truth to being there for her patients
through postpartum care—and she quickly came to relish the unpredictability of each day. “Labor is never as-planned, so you have to be able to adapt. And within the unexpected, you often have the very best days because those challenges that present in the spur of the moment create unique opportunities to build meaningful connections with patients. You’re helping them get through one of the hardest and most joyous events of their life at the same time.”

Laughner’s ability to adjust to ever-changing conditions infused her parallel capacity to challenge herself in even more new ways. While rising to the rank of Registered Nurse Coordinator she also served as the OB Clinical Educator. Went back to school and completed her master’s degree in health administration. And achieved not one or two, but four separate certifications that set her apart with a distinct set of skills: electronic fetal monitoring, inpatient obstetrical nursing, nurse management and leadership, and obstetric neonatal quality and safety. She took on the central leadership role as Director of Women’s & Children’s Services in 2018.

“Throughout my journey at St. Clair, it’s been as important for me to set an example for the teams I’m leading as it is for my own daughter. I love every second and what it teaches me about myself. And just like my father motivated me by example, my effort is always focused on creating opportunities for others to take
ownership of their own goals as they grow,” she says.

With a stated desire to help women throughout the community have the best health care experience they can possibly get, Laughner is proud of St. Clair’s commitment to support new moms and families through partnerships that extend a helping hand, validation, and empowerment during times of need. “It’s more than delivering babies,” she says. “We’re building families here.”