Jean Shaffer awarded nurse of the year |

Jean Shaffer awarded nurse of the year

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk Carol Turrin, Summit Medical Center administrator, and Bob Wallace, administration outreach services, stand behind surgery nurse Jean Shaffer, who accepted the Excellence in Caring Award at Monday's Blessing of the Hands Nurses Day.

FRISCO – Summit County locals inspired Jean Shaffer to study holistic medicine.

Now she wants to give back to the community by encouraging developers of the new hospital to include health-promoting designs such as natural lighting, dimming features on overhead lights, color schemes to promote relaxation and healing, soothing music throughout the building and wider, uncluttered hallways to reduce employees’ stress levels.

In addition to her long-term goals of introducing holistic practices into the new hospital, she’s making a difference every day at the Summit Medical Center.

Not only does she treat patients with massage, healing touch, aromatherapy, reflexology and Reiki, but she also treats doctors and nurses.

So, it’s no wonder about 40 health care professionals cheered loudly when she won the Nurse of the Year/Excellence in Caring Award at the Summit Medical Center on Monday.

Shaffer began working as an emergency room nurse in 1972.

She moved to Silverthorne from Omaha in 2000, after her husband died of multiple sclerosis.

“That’s what made me decide life is too short – you have to make the best of it every day,” Shaffer said.

When she moved to Colorado because of the environment and health-conscious population, she didn’t know it would take her in a new direction.

She started working as a surgical nurse, but that was only the beginning of her career growth.

A year ago, she completed course work at Red Rocks Community College and became a holistic health nurse.

“I never thought about it until I moved up here,” she said.

“People are into alternative medicine to stay healthy. I feel like people are taking more responsibility for their health, and I like to educate them about alternative methods. (The most fulfilling thing) is seeing that you can make a difference with people to want to stay healthy and take care of their bodies.”

She uses holistic practices to look at the whole person – mind, body and spirit – and transmit energy to patients so they can heal themselves.

“Most patients are awake (during surgery), so I’m able to keep a light, positive atmosphere in the surgery department to help patients be more relaxed,” she said.

Last month she used reflexology to decrease a woman’s blood pressure from 160/110 to 132/82 within 45 minutes.

Without the decrease in blood pressure, doctors would have canceled the surgical procedure they originally scheduled, she said.

“Jean’s one of the kindest, most compassionate people I’ve ever met,” said surgery nurse Teresa Watson.

“(The holistic practice) is a wonderful addition. It provides a different kind of care that wasn’t available.”

Though busy days during the winter can lead to stress or burnout, Shaffer stays fresh by taking a week off, enjoying outdoor activities and meditating.

“I always wanted to take care of people,” she said. “I’m a people person.”

And she considers her co-workers a part of her family, a perception echoed several times by other employees during Nurses Day.

“People are so accepting and open and positive that they are like your family,” Shaffer said about her co-workers.

“I know the competition (for nurse of the year) was tough because everyone who works here is an excellent nurse.”

Peers voted for nurse of the year in each department, and a committee from Denver compiled comments and determined Shaffer as the overall Excellence in Caring Award winner.

Two other nurses won the nurse of the year awards in their department: Kylie Robinson in labor and delivery and Julie Zangari in the emergency room.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or by e-mail at

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