Shannan Browning, Piedmont Healthcare

Shannan Browning is always glad to pick up extra shifts for her fellow nurses.

“I would work every day if I could,” said Browning, a staff nurse in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at Piedmont Newton Hospital. “I believe it is the best job in the entire world.”

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Browning, 51, became a nurse only about four years ago, although she said she “always had nursing in my heart.”

Browning previously worked with Emory University’s MBA program and as a school administrator. She also was a stay-at-home mom with her four children before being able to pursue her dream job.

Her colleagues say they’re glad she found her way to nursing and their hospital.

That’s why Browning was presented with an AJC Nurse Excellence Award on Tuesday afternoon, after being nominated last fall. More than 800 nurses were nominated, with 10 receiving awards.

“There are some individuals who I truly believe are born to be nurses. They are filled with the most compassion, dedication, and caring spirit that truly sets them apart,” co-worker Cherish Ramirez said. “Shannan Browning is one of these individuals ... and through divine intervention, she found her way to us.”

Ramirez nominated Browning for recognition by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution at its annual Celebrating Nurses ceremony.

She said Browning exemplifies the four values and core behaviors that Piedmont Healthcare expects of its nurses — namely that each is a champion of patient-centered care, someone who displays teamwork and connects with co-workers, a nurse who leads by example, and one who embraces the future.

“She wants to provide her patients with the best care she can provide, and she encourages her co-workers to do the same,” Ramirez said. “She encourages others to aim higher, do better and reach beyond their perceived limits. She strives to better herself and our unit.”

That included ending the mystery of the wandering stethoscopes. Ramirez said Browning saved the hospital money and the nurses frustration by placing tracking devices on these essential and not inexpensive tools.

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Browning is always there to create “a one-of-a-kind experience” for patients’ families as well, Ramirez said.

That was the case when the hospital’s NICU welcomed two babies, both of whom had mothers who were COVID-19 positive, had C-sections, and were in rapid decline. Since visitation was limited and both mothers could not see their babies, the decision was made to document the babies’ milestones in a scrapbook.

Browning took pictures, designed pages and even donated film.

“She knew how important this was for the families,” Ramirez said.

Browning said early experiences likely drew her to nursing, including the premature births of her twins, and the experience of close family friends who had a son with a traumatic brain injury and a daughter who had a sudden cardiac arrest.

She said she decided to work in NICU because “I wanted to be in a unit where I could make a difference.”

And that’s going well.

“I love my co-workers,” Browning said. “Everyone I work with is just great.”

From her viewpoint, Ramirez said Browning has provided the hospital and community with the highest level of service.

“We are so very proud to recognize her,” she said. “She is a wonderful co-worker with a true servant’s heart.”

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Read more about the nurses honored at this year’s ceremony:

Lauren DePietro, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital

Sarah Harper, Wellstar Cobb Hospital

Rose Horton, Emory Healthcare

Damar Lewis, Northside Hospital Duluth

Gina Papa, Clarkston Community Health Center

Deepa Patel, Wellstar Shared Services

Andrew Perea, Kaiser Permanente

Cherish Ramirez, Piedmont Healthcare

Julie Singleton, Northeast Georgia Health System

Denise Ray, Piedmont Healthcare: Nurse Leader Award


Age: 51

Current job: Staff nurse, NICU, Piedmont Newton Hospital

Years of experience: 3.5 years

Educational background: Accelerated BSN Emory University, 12/2018; B.S. Educational Research and Psychology Emory University, 1991.

Family: Married 30 years to high school sweetheart Brent Browning; four children, ages 26, 24, 24, 21 (one of her twins is a nurse in Alabama.)