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SHE Serves: Shawna Wilson

#SHEserves: Shawna Wilson
#SHEserves: Shawna Wilson

Shawna Wilson RN, BSN, is the owner of Nurse Next Door Nashville, a franchise of Nurse Next Door, which provides clients with happier aging. Nurse Next Door Nashville launches next month and Shawna is on the #SHEserves series to tell us how she came to serve others, and why she believes providing people who are elderly with the chance to do what they love again is so important.

When I was pregnant with my second child I had a routine ultrasound which prompted a more advanced screening. Shortly thereafter my physician informed me that my baby had club feet. I was told that he would need serial casting of both legs during the first year of his life and possibly surgery. This news was very difficult to handle. But when my son was born he was unable to suck, or swallow and did not have any facial muscle movement. All of the sudden club feet was the last of my concerns. He could not eat and likely had a neurological condition. The first week of his life was filled with sadness and desperation for me. All I wanted was to be able to feed him and take him home. Neither was possible. Doctors had little information to offer me and told me he would have to be fed by sending a tube from his mouth to his stomach each feeding. This seemed barbaric and unnatural to me, it added to my sadness for my sweet little boy. There was talk of putting a peg tube in his abdomen in order to feed him. Hopelessness started to take hold. But then a ingenious nurse suggested we try a squeeze type bottle used for cleft palate patients. We had to squeeze the bottle very slowly, but he was able to swallow! It was still a painstaking, extremely time consuming process to feed him, but this would mean I could take him home.

That nurse saved me, gave me back hope. I knew then that I wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to be able to help people in their most trying times.

And so, at the age of 31, I went to nursing school while raising 5 kids, with a spouse who was working full time and earning his doctoral degree. It was a trying time but so worth it. In the 11 years of nursing since, I have had the opportunity to work in home care, health coaching, and bedside nursing in the ER, PICU, Med/surg, and telemetry units. I have learned a lot. More important than the technical skills, I have learned valuable lessons about empathy, compassion, love, sacrifice and hope.

But I also became frustrated by the narrow lens that traditional medicine has when approaching senior health. I wanted to be involved in something that focused on helping seniors live their best life! So this August I start my next adventure: I launch Nurse Next Door Nashville!

I say retirement, you say “Sunny beaches, majestic castles, long cruises to Alaska? Relaxing, peaceful days filled with reading, painting, cooking, and loved ones? Leaving your home to live with strangers, having your choices made for you, not being able to eat the food you like or have a cocktail?” Wait. What?? Nope, not that last bit. Enter Nurse Next Door Nashville. It is a senior home care business, but probably not like you think. Our prime focus is “Happier Aging!” We will do whatever we can to infuse happiness into the lives of the people we care for. One of the first questions we ask clients when we meet them is, “What did you used to love doing that you no longer do?”

Maybe a client loved to go swimming or loved to garden; we  want to get them back to doing the things they used to love to do, and continue to do them.

We want to help clients find joy, meaning and companionship in their lives! We also want to help ease caregiver fatigue in families, so being together can be more joyful and less stressful.

We believe strongly that most seniors can remain in their homes, sometimes they just need a little help to accomplish that. Because retirement years should, and could, be some of the best years of your life.

I am also looking forward to fostering a work atmosphere that other caregivers will find refreshing and want to be a part of. In my experience, traditional facility settings rarely foster creativity or promote change and growth. I want my business to be a team environment that welcomes creative thinking to bring happiness to our clients and allows for challenging the status quo. We will be continually searching for people that will flourish in the caregiver role. 

Being able to work in a field where you have the opportunity to truly change lives for the better is a gift. Serving others has created satisfaction and joy in my life. Find a vocation that speaks to you, then find a way to be a tool to improve the lives of others. Grow and hone your skills continually, and you will find satisfaction and joy as well.

Shawna Wilson RN, BSN; Owner Nurse Next Door Nashville,, 615-815-1789

ICYMI:  Check out the others in our #SHEserves series with Courtney Ligon and Jackie Klaver.

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