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Born and raised in Lethbridge, Alberta, Shannon has always been and always will be an “Alberta girl”.

Her 30-year nursing career began back in 1981 when she graduated from the Foothills Hospital in Calgary, Alberta with a diploma in Nursing. After graduation, while working in Surgery, Emergency and ICU at St. Michael’s hospital in Lethbridge, she continued her studies, achieving her Bachelor of Nursing from the University of Lethbridge in 1984. Upon graduating at the top of her class, Shannon worked full-time as an ER and ICU nurse at St. Michael’s Hospital in Lethbridge, Alberta, then becoming the clinical educator for these areas. She discovered herself to be a natural-born problem solver, and she loved being part of a team that was known for providing top-notch care to patients.

In 1985, Shannon added another dimension of adventure to her life by giving birth to her twins, Alexandra and Eric. It wasn’t much later when Shannon unexpectedly became a single mother of two toddlers and found herself balancing multiple roles: that of a full-time mom, a part-time bed-side nurse, and a part-time clinical educator.

In 1988, Shannon met and fell madly in love with her now husband of 22 years, Bill–an adventurous entrepreneur and engineer. With Bill’s help, it became easier to balance the role of “Mom” and “Registered Nurse.” Between baseball practices, guitar lessons and ballet recitals, Shannon spent the early 1990s teaching health assessment at the University of Lethbridge in the Faculty of Nursing and working as a relief nurse in ICU at the Lethbridge Regional Hospital. Always supportive of her passion for reforming health care policy and improving care delivery in Alberta, Bill encouraged Shannon as she completed her Master’s Degree in nursing from the University of Calgary. This work was completed in 1993, shortly after giving birth to her third and youngest child, Ted. Some of her graduate work was published in Image: the Journal of Nursing Scholarship, and also in the journal Clinical Nurse Specialist.

During her graduate work, Shannon became intensely focused on the subject of chronic disease. She had become intrigued with the notion of the expert knowledge possessed by someone who had spent a lifetime living with a serious illness. It was this notion that inspired Shannon to view her nursing care in a whole new light–from the understanding that the patient living with the chronic illness was truly the expert on the illness experience. Throughout her career, Shannon had always deeply respected the lives and experience of her patients and their families, but she had never focused on the immense knowledge of chronic illness that people living with the illness brought to the heath care partnership.

From 1996-2002 Shannon worked as a health care analyst and researcher in the Chinook Health Region, leading evidence-informed practice projects in many areas of health services. In these roles, she became acutely aware of the important roles of evidence in promoting change in the health system. She also continued to demonstrate her passion for influencing policy by successfully pursuing election to the Provincial Council of the Alberta Association of Registered Nurses in 2003, a role for which she was honoured with the Vogel Award in 2005—an honour conferred by her Council colleagues for exemplary service to Provincial Council.

Her graduate studies, her work in health services research and her participation at the policy level brought a clear realization that many of the things that made the pursuit of health more difficult were obstacles that had their roots in policy. This drove Shannon to, once again, pursue further education. She obtained her PhD in Nursing from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta in 2007 where she graduated along side her daughter, who achieved a Bachelor of Commerce from the same institution. A Killam scholar, Shannon completed her doctoral research on policy advocacy in the area of chronic illness. She has had parts of her doctoral work published in the Canadian Journal of Nursing Research, Nursing Philosophy, the International Journal of Nursing Studies, the Western Journal of Nursing Research and also in the highly-regarded journal Policy, Politics and Nursing Practice where her article on policy advocacy remains among the top 20 most downloaded for that journal.

Upon completing her doctorate, Shannon took on executive roles with the former Chinook Health Region, and later with Alberta Health Services. Her focus: leading the development of comprehensive, interdisciplinary, community-based and patient-centred primary health care services for people living with chronic disease.

Now, it’s important that you don’t let her credentials fool you. Her friends and family will tell you that Shannon has a wicked sense of humour and an incredible ability to bring a sense of fun to almost any situation. She loves to cook, host fabulous parties, watch the odd baseball game and spend time with friends. Oh, and she is a die-hard Trekkie. If you ask her nicely, she might even speak a few words to you in Klingon (seriously), and she will almost certainly invite you to “live long and prosper”!

Most recently, Shannon served as the administrative Chair of Nursing Programs at the Lethbridge College but shortly thereafter realized her true passions still lay in influencing policy by bringing the voices of registered nurses to the policy level. Throughout her career, whether she has been providing direct care, teaching clinicians, teaching nursing students, doing research or leading administrative teams, Shannon sees herself as a registered nurse first—a nurse deeply committed to maintaining and improving our single payer, publicly funded and universal health care system, and to influencing reform of that system according to principles of primary health care.
She is committed to gaining a better understanding the issues that Alberta’s Registered Nurses currently face as the current system lurches and stumbles its way to a more “patient-focused” approach. She hears the stories of those on the caring edge of the system who are doing their best to “hold things together”, and sees nurses struggle to work in  complex and constantly evolving structures. She is committed to bringing your voice, the professional and knowledgeable voice of the RN to primary health care reform.

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