It wasn't long before visitors and associates took note of the friendly manner in which she engaged each person she encountered. Nor did it take long for the former restaurant manager to determine that she would like to make healthcare her career.
"A year later, I decided to get training to become a certified nurse aide," says Shields, which she quickly accomplished.
Miranda Sutherland, nurse manager at Ascension Via Christi Rehabilitation Hospital, had a day shift opening and was delighted to receive Shields' application.
"Someone had already reached out to me about Michele and her great personal relationship skills," says Sutherland, who says that being a mature candidate with well-developed life skills and experience made her an outstanding candidate.
In fact, Shields came highly recommended by several Ascension Via Christi leaders who had interacted with her in her role as a door screener.
"She has such great customer relations skills and is so service-oriented," says David Alexander, president of the Via Christi Foundation, who had encountered her at Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph and Ascension Via Christi St. Francis. "She had already shown that she was a great fit for our ministry, so I was excited to learn that she wanted to grow her career here with us."
Sutherland offered Shields the position about a month prior to her completing her classes, contingent upon her receiving her CNA certification.
"I love it, I truly do," says Shields, who began her new role this week. "I picked the right place to come to because I can already tell this is where I want to be."
While she plans to watch and learn while she discerns her long-term healthcare career goals, she says one thing is certain: "I know I want to stay with Ascension and be in a position to help patients and families."