Shannon Johnson

Shannon Johnson 40-40

Age: 38

Hometown: Billings

She works at St. Vincent Healthcare as a clinic manager, but also is licensed massage therapist and just earned her naturopathic doctorate. She volunteers, is loved by colleagues and finds time for her family, including a daughter and a son. 

You span both Western medicine and naturopathic medicine. How do you balance both professionally?

First, it is important to clarify that being a naturopath does not necessarily mean prescribing "medicine." There is a stigma attached to the word "medicine" in our society today, especially. The idea behind traditional naturopathy is to use naturally occurring remedies that are organic (grown in or on the earth) in nature to facilitate the body’s natural healing process. The body is an amazing organism that knows how to heal itself – if we allow it the rest and care that it needs to do just that. There is a place for both naturopathic medicine and western medicine today, so it really depends on the person seeking the help and what their preference is for health management. As for balance, it is just like knowing two different specialties. Knowing how each functions within its domain makes it easy to keep it balanced.

What caused you to pursue naturopathic medicine?

When my son was born, we discovered that he had a medical issue with his renal system. There was a lot of trauma in the beginning of his life. He was only 29 days old when it manifested and it took its toll on our life as parents, and a family. I just remember feeling so strongly that I did not want him to have a surgery, or other serious corrective procedures; we had already been through enough. That was when I decided to seek out the answers he needed. I began studying natural methods that might work to cure him. It was at this time discovered that I had an unequivocal passion for natural health and continued to pursue it until I completed my naturopathic doctorate in September 2017. It has been 10 years since I first began studying natural wellness, and I have never looked back.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the connections that we make with our patients. Many of them have been patients at the clinic for more than 20 years. It is wonderful to see the relationships that have been established between the patients and the providers and staff.

You are involved in several volunteer organizations? Which ones and how did you come to have an affinity for them?

Thanks to my daughter, I am a volunteer with Zoo Montana. She has always wanted to volunteer and asked every year for the last five until she finally was old enough to do it. When she turned 12 she could not wait to sign up for volunteering at the zoo, but she needs a parent with her because of her age. So I started volunteering to be with her, but it has become so much more than that. I love to volunteer with her, and the rest of my family comes too. We have fallen in love with the Zoo and the staff and other volunteers, and now we look forward to all going to volunteer together as a family. We have a lot of fun at a great organization.

You recently agreed to join the Billings Area Family Violence Task Force. Why?

At St. Vincent Healthcare, we are involved in our communities and volunteer as part of our leadership roles. There was a list of community volunteer opportunities that listed the BAFVTF as an opportunity to serve. I chose it from the list because I have experience working in the court system, and my husband serves as an officer for the Billings Police Department, so it was something I felt a connection to and a cause where I felt I had something I could offer.

You are also working on your first book. Between your jobs, volunteering, being a mother, when do you find time to write? Why do you write?

I believe people make time for the things that are important to them. I get asked this question a lot, and the truth is:I do what I love. The things we are passionate about give us energy rather than exhausting us, so while some things can be draining, it is the things that I love that restore my energy and fill me back up.

I write because I feel it is a part of my nature. I feel better when I get things out on paper. My office at home is chalk-full of journals of all shapes and sizes. When I feel it welling up inside, I write it down. I also carry a recording device with me so when an idea strikes, I dictate it so I can remember to write about it later. Another reason I write though, is to help others perhaps benefit from my knowledge, or experiences. We all have something to offer others; iron sharpens iron.

It seems like you have many interests. What inspires you?

I do have a lot of interests! What inspires me is encouraging others to be the best person they can be. That may sound corny, but when you encourage someone and see their eyes light up, there is no greater feeling. Whether it is through counseling them to take better care of themselves physically, or whether it is writing them a personal note, or even speaking life to them, it creates a residue of positivity. Creativity inspires me. Acts of love inspire me. My kids inspire me. A well-written novel or story inspires me. Coffee inspires me. Life itself is inspiring; you just have to know where to look to be inspired.

What is one thing still on your list of goals to complete in the future? #worlddomination I kid, but I will finish writing my book this year. I will also finish earning my master's in health administration in May 2018. Then… look out world!

What is one of your guilty pleasures?

Binge-watching "The Crown" on Netflix.

What do you like most about the Billings area?

I grew up in Billings. This is just home. I really love the Rims. We have this wonderful, natural place where we can look out over the city, and see beyond it. It helps give me perspective. While we are still a small city in comparison to many, but our city is great for so many reasons.

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