Meet Shannon, a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) at
D&S Community Services, a part of Sevita.

Shannon, LPN

Making a connection,
that's living.

"If you knew you were meant to be a nurse, that this is your calling, 
you'll realize this role caring for these individuals is such a beautiful dance.

How did you know you wanted to get into this line of work? I had no idea I wanted to do this particular kind of nursing. 
I had a friend mention “Sevita is hiring. What do you think about doing this kind of work?” and I hesitated because I’d never worked with any mentally or physically disabled people. She invited me to come to the location and just experience it. I fell totally in love with the residents in that home, just immediately adored them.

I had experience working alongside doctors, in offices, but was ready to dig in and work directly with clients. Here I found that I could communicate with someone who can't communicate like we're used to, and there's nothing you can compare that to.

You have a short break in service here at Sevita. What helped you realize you wanted to return? In 2019 just before COVID, I wanted to take a break from what I was doing here and focus on pediatric care so I left to pursue that role. I stayed in touch with a few people here at Sevita, but had never thought about coming back. When the pandemic started winding down in 2023, I was looking for a new opportunity and had six job offers I was considering—none of those were at Sevita. I had a variety of options to consider…from making more money, to travelling, to different hours of work.

Around the same time, I saw my old supervisor when I was out running errands and she told me there was an opening. From the moment I walked back in the door, it was like I’d never left and I knew instantly this is exactly where I'm supposed to be. The participants who I had worked with before came up and hugged me, still knew me, co-workers welcomed me back. It was a great feeling.

Is there someone who has made a huge impact on your career or career progression? Yes, two of the individuals I’ve had the privilege of serving. One of our participants just passed away suddently. Because I’ve known him from the first years I joined the company, we had developed a great relationship. He’s made a huge impact on my career and my life. Just seeing all the things he accomplished in his life: He was a well-known figure in the community, always out and about, always
volunteering. It makes me look at my life and really think about how I’m giving back, and how can I be better at getting involved.

Another person that made an impact on me is an individual who had no family to support him, so we became his family. He was bed-bound and non-verbal. I had this connection with him from the very beginning, and could tell whether he was comfortable or not. When I got a call that he was in the hospital and would probably pass soon, I raced over to sit beside hime and hold his hand as he passed. For some people that may seem morbid. But I was so honored to do that so he wasn't alone, and could look over and know someone was there.

"That's when I knew this is something I always wan't to be part of,
to make those kinds of connections. 

You don't realize what you want to do until you've done it."

What advice would you give someone looking to start their career as an LPN? When you first graduate, it’s all about the scrubs, and looking ‘cute’ and looking the part. I’ve been there too. But then you realize that when you see a great nurse their scrubs have gunk all over them. Get in there, get your hands dirty, get experience in different areas, and you'll figure it out. For me 'figuring it out' turned out to be about more than the physical aspect of nursing, it's also about the emotional piece.  

Why is Sevita a great place to start or find that next chapter in a career?

This role is not physically exhausting like working in a hospital. Or mentally and emotionally exhausting like school nursing or mental health nursing. A nursing job at Sevita is both physically and mentally intense. It's such a deeper level here. This adult trusts you with everything. You may not get experience with needles, or IVs, or injections. But what you do get far outweighs just the physical tasks of being a nurse. 
A Fun Fact: I love running! My goal is to get a medal in all 50 states. I have medals from 26 states now!

How do you "own your work" and leave a lasting mark? 

"I love crafts and being creative! I've been able to bring my creativity to this role and bring joy to our participants. I started a program called “Happy Daze”. Every month we have a theme and do something creative with that theme. One month we did a “Happy Birthday” theme. Many of our individuals have never had a birthday party, so we brought in cake and balloons. Everyone got a present and they were so excited about opening them."

How do you "own your work" and leave a lasting mark? 

"We also did ‘Adopt a Pet Day’. It’s rare that our individuals have had a pet or been around animals of any kind. The community heard what we were doing and donated all kinds of stuffed animals, not just the usual pets. So participants actually got to ‘adopt’ an animal. I made little adoption certificates, and put collars on them.

I had so much fun getting creative and seeing the joy on their faces when they chose an animal for themselves. I remember thinking "I get paid to do this?" It's really amazing.