Shannon Queen, MSN, RN
Nurse uses healthy lifestyle to educate and encourage her patients
The phrase “practice what you preach” plays a big role in Shannon Queen’s life. As a nurse at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, she takes pride in educating patients on what it takes to improve and prevent disease. How can she not follow her own advice?
Shannon took a proactive approach to her own health a few years ago at the age of 37. Her mother had faced many health issues and had recently died of cancer. Shannon was determined to go down a different path.
Her healthy lifestyle shift began with physical activity. She started going to the gym two days a week, then increased to three or four days a week. Eventually she hired a personal trainer to learn all she could about proper exercise. Her goal: to be living example of what a healthy lifestyle looks like.
“As a nurse, I was trying to educate my patients on best practices for preventing or improving conditions like hypertension or diabetes,” said Shannon. “I wanted to teach them healthy eating habits and exercise advice. And I did not want to be a hypocrite while educating them on how to take care of themselves.”
With a firm grasp of what healthy living looks like, Shannon was able to talk to patients and peers about getting healthier in an accurate, credible way.
Even today, Shannon wants her patients to be able to relate to her. At her job, a large proportion of patients are African American, and Shannon knows this means many of them are predisposed to serious health problems. As a fellow African American, Shannon’s firsthand knowledge and experience become more relevant to her patients.
The Impact of Healthy Living
While Shannon was adding exercise into her routine, she also shifted her diet to focus on smaller portions, preparedness, and healthier ingredients. She cut out soda completely, began meal prepping all of her food in advance, and kept liters or water with her at all times.
“I’ve learned over the years to never think of it as a diet,” said Shannon. “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.”
While working out regularly and making healthy food choices, Shannon took her wellness journey one step further: She took an online course to become certified as a personal trainer.
“My biggest hope was to have the correct information when trying to educate and encourage others,” said Shannon. “It also helped me, and now people look to me for guidance and advice.”
Keep Moving Forward
To ensure she doesn’t fall off the wagon, Shannon focuses on the following:
- Being around for her children and grandchildren in the future
- Warding off hereditary and preventable diseases
- Feeling good both physically and mentally
Shannon builds a healthy lifestyle into her calendar so it’s non-negotiable. For example, she schedules workouts into her calendar just like she does with work meetings. She also keeps her workout clothes in her car at all times.
“Exercise is something I have to do,” said Shannon. “If it’s not there in front of me, I could sway. I try not to make excuses.”
Shannon understands the health and wellness challenges nurses face every day. Her advice:
- Don’t give up. Change won’t happen overnight, but if you set small goals and work to conquer them, you will see progress.
- It’s not always about the weight. It’s also about how you feel. Don’t get hooked on the scale.
- Find an accountability partner. Choose someone who will encourage you and keep you motivated to live a healthy life.
- Remember that you are a role model. People look to nurses for guidance. You never know what influence you might have on someone. Remember that you are a role model in the health industry.
Shannon Queen, MSN, RN, is a nurse at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.
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