Alumni Showcase: Dr Shannon Nell

In women’s month we continue to showcase some of our remarkable female alumni and today we profile one of our recent Doctoral graduates – Dr Shannon Nell

This work is dedicated to nursing leaders – whoever and wherever you may be. I honour you.

By Dr Shannon Nell

Dr Nell comes from the health fraternity and has been a nurse for four decades. She has co-created in a multitude of clinical areas, including maternity, paediatrics, adult intensive care, and paediatric oncology, as well as in nursing education. Currently, Dr Nell serves as the Director of Nursing and Nursing Education at Netcare, a position she has held for the last seven years. We salute our remarkable Davincian, for all that she has done and continues to do on the frontline in our country, giving daily of herself to the betterment of others.

Besides her extensive experience, Dr Nell also holds several qualifications, including specialist nursing qualifications in midwifery, paediatrics, critical care nursing, community health nursing, and nursing education. Additionally, she holds an MBA from GIBS. Dr Nell is now a Doctoral Degree holder from The Da Vinci Institute, a remarkable addition to her already noteworthy achievements.

Her Doctoral thesis entitled: Capacitation of nursing leaders to operationalise care in a private healthcare setting in South Africa: meta-insights, focused chiefly on exploring the capacitation and leadership roles of nursing leaders within a private, acute-care hospital setting in South Africa, identified as Company A. Although the capacitation of nursing leadership is key for achieving effective performance in their roles, according to the researcher and as identified, certain challenges and hindrances may be preventing this. If the emotional intelligence of nursing leaders becomes repressed, it may manifest as ineffective coping and sub-optimal care being rendered to patients; however, nursing leaders can reach significant leadership efficacy when provided with opportunities to develop their resilience and emotional quotient.

The findings, as Dr Nell states, are as follows, “…it was determined that the factors of emotional intelligence, change resilience, and large-scale organisational change processes are highly influential for the operationalisation of care by nursing leaders in a private, acute healthcare setting in South Africa. [Adjunct to that,] the development gained at individual level impacted the ability of the team, which benefited the organisation, to spend their energy to engage in a sustainable and inclusive manner through co-created change that has been sustained over time.” This study not only has had profound impact on the team she sampled but is a study that will potentially contribute to the leadership of the entire nursing fraternity, which shows an advanced return on investment and the contribution of valuable new knowledge.

When asked about the attributes that may have aided in her achieving this apex qualification, Dr Nell says it was the trust in the ability she possesses of being, “an advocate for nursing and nursing leaders.” Furthermore, “Managing multiplicity and complexity every day” may have contributed to her stride. However, it is also important to note that Dr Nell is someone with a deep and inherent resilience, determination and an individual that is always willing to consistently take a step forward when the going gets tough and when the end may have seemed far away.

Dr Nell accords that her Doctoral journey was a worthwhile one, albeit long and taxing, it was also meaningful and important. Her study has added immense value to her field and profession and was implemented and showed workable success.  No doubt many will continue to grow from her research and as humble as always, she is grateful for the lessons she learnt and being able to continue to be a servant leader.

Dr Nell gives profound and inspiring words to those that still have their journey ahead, she advises that, “when you know something is right – you need to be steadfast in pursuing it along whatever route it takes. This route may not turn out to be what you planned, which makes the journey as important as the final destination.”

Dr Nell’s additional lesson and kind advice is: “If you don’t love what you are doing – STOP and change it to something that is meaningful to you. Be prepared to be professionally vulnerable – push [the limiting] boundaries and try something that will stretch and excite you at the same time. Don’t be afraid of the occasional large volumes of work required, data to analyse or the time-consuming nature of what you must do to complete. Do whatever it takes while life happens in between.”

We thank Dr Shannon Nell for her generous words of wisdom and for the profound impact that she makes to influencing the co-creation of healthier and more sustainable societies every day. We congratulate her for this great achievement and wish for her an abundance of success and remarkability in all her endeavours. Her constellation remains deep and meaningful in The Da Vinci galaxy.