CPR Training as a Business: How being her own boss affords one trainer her best life

American Heart Association instructor Tamara McLaughlin owns and operates her own training business in Vermont. The CPR & First Aid Blog sat down with her to chat about how she does it.

Q: Tamara, what is your background?

A: I began my career training medical assistants across Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont 24 years ago. One day, my boss informed me that I would start training physicians in CPR, which at that time I knew nothing about! It was intimidating, but I went through the classes and became an instructor with the American Red Cross.

After a couple of years, I decided to teach American Heart Association coursework instead because I felt it gave a better understanding of high-quality CPR. Once I switched, the feedback I received from my students was overwhelmingly positive. That’s when I knew that I was on to something and decided to go into business for myself.

Q: Would you tell us about your business journey?

A: My company is called VT SafeyNet Inc., and I teach the Association’s BLS and all Heartsaver courses, including Heartsaver First Aid, CPR AED and Bloodborne Pathogens. I began simply: I designed and printed my business cards and mailed them to local doctor and dentist offices that had smaller staffs, which meant they were likely to not have internal training. This was a side job for more than 10 years, but eventually through networking at trade shows and client referrals I began to be hired by larger firms with regular needs. That’s when I switched to doing this full-time.

I’ve been working for myself full-time for nine years now; I train about 2,500 students a year. It works best for me because that it allows me to set my own hours and, as such, I’m able to strike that work-life balance. I feel like I’m leading my best life.

Q: What do you believe is the secret of your success, so to speak?

A: I emphasize being enthusiastic, engaging, and utilizing humor to make the material less intimidating. I train people from all walks of life—from construction workers to hospital Chief Medical Officers. The most important thing is to customize my delivery of the material to serve how each person learns.

Q: Finally, tell us why the American Heart Association is your choice?

A: The Association teaches the science behind its material. When students ask me questions in class, I want to be able to fully answer them as opposed to providing routine talking points. The Association provides you everything you need to know. For my business, this put me miles ahead.

Thank you, Tamara, for speaking with us and for being such a dedicated American Heart Association advocate!