Alumni Spotlight Archive
Shawn Tyrrell, Chief Nursing Officer at Adventist Midwest Health, continually sought out educational opportunities; found rewarding career in nursing
Triton College inspired education as a continuing path for Shawn Tyrrell. Often receiving encouragement from her Triton instructors to pursue a higher education beyond the two-year community college, Tyrrell found herself taking that advice above and beyond. Tyrrell currently holds a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees, as Chief Nursing Officer at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. Following receiving her associate’s degree in nursing at Triton in 1975, Tyrrell went onto Lewis University in Romeoville for her bachelor’s in nursing, and then to Loyola University in Chicago to pursue her Master of Science in Nursing. And three years ago, Tyrrell received her Master of Business Administration from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Nursing Practice with a concentration in Health Systems Leadership. “I credit Triton,” she says, “because I was able to pay my own tuition and become a nurse. … Triton was the best value for me and set me on a path to career success and growth.”
In her career, Tyrrell has enjoyed roles in both urban and suburban hospitals and has had the privilege of working with nurses all over Chicagoland, including holding progressive leadership roles at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Edward Hospital in Naperville, the West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park and Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora.
What would you describe as your strong suit?
I think some strengths I have that were nurtured at Triton include the ability to appreciate all views and gain consensus, an ability to create a positive team environment, a drive for excellence and a commitment to colleagues and particularly their growth and development.
What have been some obstacles you've had to overcome in pursuit of your educational and career goals?
I think the main barriers have been fear – I just went back to school and got an MBA in 2008. I was worried I would not be able to keep up but found the world so energizing; I was inspired to get it done. Time – but I think time becomes less of a factor as you see how each piece of education helps you in other aspects of your life. Sacrificing time with my family was a challenge because your family benefits you in so many ways. I recall my son saying after I got my MBA that he missed me sitting at the kitchen table doing homework because he liked doing his work next to me.
What has served as a source of inspiration both in your career and in your life?
My older sister has been my inspiration as a nurse. I followed her to Triton and she was the one that helped me navigate Triton as a new student. My sister, Kim, sees nursing as a way to transform the lives of others. She continues to inspire my nursing practice.
How has Triton College impacted your life?
In addition to Triton affording me this great opportunity to have a wonderful secure career, Triton influenced my learning as being a lifelong and never-ending experience. There were clear influences among faculty who made this clear throughout my time at Triton. Also, Triton focused on both the art and science of nursing, which I appreciate even so today.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to pursue a career in your field?
Words of advice would include never stop learning and also keep your priorities on track. Finally, maintain a strong network of students, professional contacts, coworkers, colleagues and former colleagues, for mutual support and encouragement. And offer to lend support for other learners; have a mentor and be a mentor.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I love reading, walking, dancing and being with my three children.
What are your plans for the future?
In the future, I plan to seek my doctorate in nursing. Each pursuit of advanced education has offered me more tools to be even more effective in my role. I look forward to being able to gain a stronger knowledge base about change management, particularly as nurses face the challenges of health care reform. Stronger leaders will be necessary and more education will help improve the foundation of nursing practice.