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Fertility Nurse of the Month: Traci Shahan

Albrecht Women’s Care Denver IVF, Englewood, CO

July 2012

Smart, compassionate and humble are the first three adjectives that come to mind to describe Traci Shahan, , RN, CNS, WHNP-BC, Doctor of Nursing. She describes herself “first and very staunchly so, an advocate for women.” Years of education behind her (just look at her credentials above), Shahan is a nurse practitioner with Albrecht Women’s Care Denver IVF in Englewood Colorado. FertilityAuthority is pleased to honor Traci Shahan as Nurse of the Month.

As a nurse practitioner, Shahan can make diagnoses, treat conditions and prescribe medications. “Sixty percent of what I have to do is with ultrasound, and my ultrasound skills are what I’m most proud of,” she says. “We do cool, cutting edge procedures with ultrasound.” For example, Shahan performs the FemVueTM hysterosalpingogram, which uses saline and air instead of x-ray dye (as in a traditional hysterosalpingogram or HSG) to image the fallopian tube and uterine cavity. This way, the patient does not have to have an outpatient procedure with a radiologist. “We do FemVue in office, but it takes really nuanced ultrasound skills to do it well. It’s essentially pulsed saline and air, and you can see it travel through the uterus and fallopian tubes. It gives you a very good view to make sure that the tubes are patent or open and that the uterine cavity looks normal,” Shahan explains. “I love it because I worry about having a lot of radiation to the ovaries."

But that’s not the extent of her job. The first three hours of her day are spent doing ultrasounds, prescribing medications, drawing blood, and doing physical exams and preoperative consultations. Afternoons typically include FemVue HSGs and calling back IVF patients with lab results ”I try to reserve that last hour of the day for persons I know are at a vulnerable stage of treatment,” Shahan says. “For example I called someone last week who miscarried a couple of weeks ago. I keep a list of those patients who are really struggling with a lot, and then I randomly call them to say ‘how are you doing?’ They aren’t expecting those calls, and I love those calls — they’re really fun for me. I wish someone had done that for me."

This is where the “advocate for women” part comes in. “That’s why I went into this field,” Shahan says. “Not to sell IVF, not to sell surgery, but to help women who are going through a hard time. And that’s A No. 1 for me.”

Helping sometimes means just being there. “It’s okay to sit with a patient who is crying. It’s okay to sit in silence with someone.” Shahan says. She also has a stash of “emergency chocolate” that comes in handy.

A former fertility patient Shahan decided to work in reproductive endocrinology because she had “really bad medical care,” she says. “I had a medical team that did not know how to handle all aspects of losing pregnancies and going through multiple surgeries. I also had the misfortune of not understanding that I needed to see a reproductive endocrinologist, not an obstetrician/gynecologist."

She says she’ll never forget a nurse telling her, after she miscarried, to “throw away the tissue.” “That is wrong on so many levels. You need the tissue for the karyotypes, but also don’t tell a woman to throw away what she perceives to be her baby,” Shahan says. “And so, after that phone call to her, I swore to God I was going to get into this field and I was never ever going to treat a patient like that. I would treat them with honor and dignity and respect.

“There’s the scientific part of me that loves the challenge of helping and diagnosing women with more nuanced problems," she continues. "What’s more interesting and compelling to me is holding their hand and helping them when it looks like there is no hope to be had. That is when I feel most at one with the world."

FertilityAuthority congratulates Traci Shahan for the treatment and care she provides her patients. As such, she has justly earned a place as FertilityAuthority Nurse of the Month.

Nominate Your Fertility Nurse

In honor of these hard working nurses who hold our hands throughout our fertility treatment experiences, will feature a dedicated fertility clinic nurse each month. You can nominate your favorite fertility clinic nurse by clicking here. We will contact you if your nurse is chosen to be our Fertility Nurse of the Month.


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