Five Question Friday: Shannon Swanson

Meet Shannon Swanson, a nurse on our neurosurgery team.

How long have you worked at Children’s? I’ve worked at Children’s for over 12 years.

What’s a typical day like for you? My typical day is, well, I don’t really have a typical day because we see so many different types of patients and surgeries, and I hold several different roles on our unit.  Some days I’m the team lead or charge nurse and some days I’m in the office handling the neurosurgery resource lead duties, and some days I’m in the OR as a circulating nurse.

Still, there are some predictable patterns to the types of surgeries that I deal with. We arrive at work and attend morning report at 7 a.m. From there, I go to the room I’m assigned and start looking at my surgical cases for the day, taking note of any special equipment/transport or provider needs.

The first case of the day usually is scheduled between 7:30 and 8 a.m. As a team we get the room ready and all the supplies needed for our case. I review my patient chart and join the anesthesia team out by the patient’s room to do our safety checks and we all (patient, family member, anesthetist) walk back to the OR together.

From that point on, it is a continuous flow of assessment and technical skill to meet the health care needs of my patient. As OR nurses we are constantly managing the flow of the room and the care of the patient so that everything happens in a safe, effective manner. We are not only responsible for patient assessment but legal documentation, as well.  We must make sure all surgical policies and procedures are carried out to Children’s standard. After the case is over we are responsible for transferring care to our PACU nursing staff.

On a typical day, I might have anywhere from one to 10 cases depending on the length of time each surgery takes.  It would be impossible to write out all that we have to accomplish with each specific and unique case. It can be a fast paced environment where things change all the time. Working in neurosurgery, you must be prepared, you have to be ready for anything, but you also need to maintain a sense of calmness. 

Why did you become a nurse? I went into nursing because my grandmother told me she thought I would make a good nurse. It’s as simple as that. I was very close to my grandmother and respected her a great deal.

What do you love most about neurosurgery? What I love most is the challenge that each of the cases brings to the table. It is awesome to work with the latest and greatest technology and the best surgeons in the field. The cases are hard but rewarding, and it is that rewarding feeling knowing you are helping a family that keeps you coming back when you have a particularly hard case. Neurosurgery is a physically and emotionally taxing specialty, but overall it’s an extremely rewarding career. I can’t imagine doing anything else. 

How do you spend your time outside of work? I have a very active family life! I have two children. My oldest just left for college this past fall, and my daughter is a sophomore in high school. I love to exercise, travel and read. My favorite past times are biking, doing yoga and spending time with my family and friends trying new restaurants!

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