Shelley Irvine has been a major force for diabetes practice and education in Northwest British Columbia. As a Diabetes Nurse Educator at the Healthy Living Centre in Smithers, B.C. since 1986, Shelley strives to maintain and enhance diabetes service and education in a rural region. She works to improve the quality of life of those who have diabetes, while providing local solutions that allow patients and their families to take control of their general health.
Indeed, Shelley has a tremendous range of responsibilities, from individual and family counseling to giving monthly group seminars and diabetes clinics, seeing in-patients as needed, providing long-term care visits to homes and facilities, organizing an annual national meeting to gather health professionals from across the northern part of the province for education, and much more. Her nursing experience also includes various clinical positions as a diabetes camp nurse, gerontology nurse, medical unit nurse and related roles.
Many colleagues have said that Shelley’s practice goes beyond the call of duty. “Her practical and didactic skills are complemented by her ability to manage difficult situations while maintaining sometimes-fragile relationships,” notes Lilia Heslenfeld, RN. “I remember when a young girl was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. The parents were having a particularly hard time dealing with the diagnosis, resulting in a lot of blaming, arguing and strife within the blended families. Nurses and educators often get stuck in the middle of such disputes, but Shelley has a way of teaching and counseling that helps even the toughest cases to focus on the problem at hand. She showed them ways to channel their energies towards a more positive outcome for the health of their child.”
Shelley has built strong relationships in the communities she serves and has been a role model to other nurses in their professional conduct. “I strive to model my own practice based on the values and ethics that Shelley shows in her practice,” says Primary Health Coordinator Shelly Crack. “She conducts herself with confidence, skill and dedication and is always there when I need her, guiding me through an insulin adjustment or whatever else the situation may require.”
Planning yearly Diabetes Educators gatherings has been critical for spreading guidelines and new approaches for diabetes education throughout her region. “She takes so much time and energy every year to bring us all together and organize the agenda,” Crack says. “She is the unifying force for diabetes education around the Northwest.”
The diabetes education workshops that Shelley provides each month are a great example of her close involvement with various communities. They have had measurable impacts on patient health. She also advocates for keeping kids in their communities to get them treatment at home, instead of having to travel to a larger center for care. “The outreach is an effective way to reach large numbers of people without singling anyone out and reassures at-risk people that a solution for their care needs is not out of reach,” says Anna Harrison, RN.
Shelley is an exceptional nurse who demonstrates high standards when teaching others and when practicing nursing herself. She can be very proud of her achievements in bringing first-rate care to even the most far-flung communities.