A Look at a Leader: Shelly King, CPNP
King is the director of the Children’s Continence Center at Riley, where she and her colleagues perform state-of-the-art evaluations and education for children with all types of incontinence.
A couple of years later, King met a doctor and patient who would take her career in an unexpected direction. She was visiting Riley on a day when a deaf teenager was recovering from reconstructive surgery on his urinary tract. “He and his parents didn’t fully understand the operation and aftercare,” she recalls. King watched as the doctor sat with the family and drew pictures of everything he’d done in surgery. “I was so impressed that he took the time to do this, and even more amazed by the difference he had made in his patient’s life,” she says. “This young man had always been incontinent and had to wear diapers.” Just two weeks later, she applied for a job in Riley’s urology clinic—where the very same doctor interviewed her. He remembered King and offered her a job.
That was 32 years ago. Today, King is the director of the Children’s Continence Center at Riley, where she and her colleagues perform state-of-the-art evaluations and education for children with all types of incontinence. She’s never worked anywhere but Riley and has never considered leaving. “I fell in love with the practice and the patients here,” she says. For someone who had always dreamed of helping others, she found the ideal place to do so: Riley’s pediatric urology department is ranked one of the 10 best in the country, and the staff handles thousands of visits a year. “We see some of the toughest cases, but those are the ones I love,” she says. Many patients have chronic conditions, so King works with them for years. “You almost become part of their family,” she says. “The parents believe in us, and we love their kids.”
Working at Riley has also given King the opportunity to be an innovator. She developed a post-operative care program for patients that she teaches to young doctors and nurses all over the country. She also created a pre-operative plan that explains reconstructive surgery to children and their parents and helps kids feel less anxious about the procedure. “We show them videos of what children look like after an operation when they have tubes coming out of their bladder, explain how we’ll take care of any pain they might have, and show examples of kids performing self-care following surgery,” says King. “They see that other kids have the same problems they do and are living happy, healthy lives.” Another recent project: developing a free app that teaches kids how to use a catheter.
King’s schedule doesn’t leave her with many hours of downtime, but when she’s not at Riley you can find her and her husband hiking and biking in local parks. She also loves international travel, which—luckily for her—is sometimes part of her job (King was recently invited to Czechoslovakia to present her post-operative care plan.) But she’s always happy to come home to Riley. “The hospital is really powered by talent,” she says. “Everyone here is constantly working to make Riley the best place for children to be.”
-- By Jessica Brown