Shawn Houck worked as a nurse and in hospital marketing before she began managing interdisciplinary professional development health-care conferences in the Triad and Triangle.
Houck is coordinator of regional education at Greensboro Area Health Education Center (GAHEC), which is part of the North Carolina AHEC system, where she supports health-care continuing education, interprofessional development, and workforce development at the regional, state and national levels. Since joining GAHEC, she has worked to build partnerships among communities, health-care providers and businesses to make those connections and find ways to work together to improve health in the region.
Houck says the beauty of her nursing career is that she has learned to understand the patients from all sides. “Now my work expands to the population as a whole — the community, the state level, the national level. The importance of community-individual transformation holds the key to transformation across the globe,” she says.
Through her focal interests in public health, she has become more involved in projects related to refugee health and health literacy initiatives. One of these includes a state (NC AHEC) program grant she co-wrote with Dr. Jeffery Walden, the medical director of the Refugee Health Clinic. The grant has led to the development of the Guilford County Coalition on Refugee Health, which helps health-care professionals provide support to refugees by using the “Welcome to Health” tool kit, she says. The tool kit builds on teaching health literacy and helping providers and patients identify health-care needs, including diabetes care, women’s health, nutrition, pediatric, and mental and emotional components, she says. It will be translated to several languages and will be available at Cone Community agencies. These agencies will be able to use it and collaborate with providers across the Cone spectrum. Guilford County is in the top 10 for refugee placement in the country, she says. “We have the most robust amount of community resource agencies as a result of that,” she says.
She encourages those interested in pursuing nursing to also seek educational opportunities and to always re-evaluate their goals. When she’s not working, Houck spends time with her two daughters and family. Her hobbies include swimming, traveling and music.