One of Shannon Miller’s biggest life passions is traveling—seeing new sites, exploring new places, and experiencing new cultures. In fact, during her first two years of college she participated in an exchange program in Thailand. Later on, Shannon spent a year trekking through the mountains of Nepal where she taught English as a volunteer in an elementary school while living on a hospital campus. It was there her interest in women’s health was first piqued when she met a volunteer group of Obstetrician-Gynecologists (OB/GYNs) who were conducting surgeries for pelvic floor issues. “I got to see the impact they had on women in the community. Women walked for days to the outreach clinic to get the surgery and their lives were changed,” explains Shannon. A career focusing on women’s healthcare became the next clear step. “Women are really integral to society. We are the moms, we are the daughters, we are the caretakers. And I think that if we can take care of women we can take care of the human race.”
Growing up in Washington State, Shannon wanted to be a doctor since grade school. Surrounded by with a family in medicine— her mom a nurse, her dad in medical physics—Shannon got her undergrad in Washington, where most of her family still lives, and then attended medical school in Denver at Rocky Vista University. While there, she found she enjoyed the surgery aspect of her training, but kept coming back to her truest calling of OB/GYN. “It just fits me,” she states, “and I can’t imagine doing anything else.” Shannon followed up med school with residency at Baylor University and then began practicing at SLC Health Medical Group for OB/GYN & Midwifery in 2019.
Dr. Miller’s training allows her to perform a full range of obstetrics, handling both routine and high-risk cases. She loves working with the clinic midwives who take many of the low-risk OB patients while the OB physicians help oversee patients with more complicated medical histories. The physicians co-manage the higher risk cases who strongly desire a midwifery practice, backing up the midwives as OB labor/delivery hospitalists 24/7, Dr. Miller explains: “adds a level of safety to what we can offer our patients.”
SLC Health Medical Group for OB/GYN & Midwifery is one of several groups of OB/GYN clinics in the Grand Valley. The groups work closely together, backing each other up in the hospital as providers take turns being on call, generally taking six 24-hour on-call shifts per month. In one on-call shift Dr. Miller anticipates deliveries, Cesarean sections and emergency gynecological procedures. She comments, “I love being there for deliveries. Seeing a patient who’s had a tough pregnancy or previous complications have a successful, healthy pregnancy and healthy baby is everything. To be able to say, ‘Wow! We’ve been able to help you accomplish this amazing thing’— that’s just really special!”
When it comes to the gynecological aspect of her work, Dr. Miller is equipped to handle a plethora of women’s health issues. She regularly performs minimally invasive surgeries. She consistently coaches women through issues of “body image, birth control and safe sex practices.” Whether it’s a young teen just learning about her menstrual cycle or the mature woman in menopause, Miller helps women through the various issues associated with life’s changing seasons. Dr. Miller knows, “It’s mostly about education and reassurance—meeting women where they’re at and listening to their needs.”
Dr. Miller feels that the providers at SLC Health Medical Group for OB/GYN & Midwifery value shared decision-making, as opposed to paternalistic medicine. “I really believe in patient autonomy, in formulating a plan with the patient,” she explains. “I’m a believer in saying, ‘Here’s what’s going on, these are the options, now what are we going to do?’ Because it’s your body, ultimately.”
When it comes to networking within the Grand Valley, Dr. Miller appreciates the overall collaborative environment within our community, citing the online medical records system as a valuable structure for strong inner-office communication. Miller sends out multiple referrals per day to local specialists in areas such as urology, physical therapy, and when necessary, maternal fetal medicine through telehealth in Denver. She also works to ensure her patients have solid primary care doctors. “We have a really great medical community in Grand Junction for being a relatively small town,” she states. “Moving to a more rural setting, I wasn’t really sure what to expect with what specialties we have available to us in the Grand Valley, but I continue to feel impressed with the incredible specialists here and our expansive provider network. St. Mary’s has a number of well-developed service lines with the primary care providers being at the center of caring for patients’ health, then referring patients to various specialists and services based upon patients’ needs. There’s great collaboration across the care continuum within SCL Health.”
Dr. Miller and her husband partner together in the adventure of raising the couple’s two children—a three-year-old daughter and ten-month old son. They enjoy mountain biking together whenever they can find a babysitter. And someday, she hopes to return to Nepal for surgical outreach.
The OB/GYN & Midwifery providers at SCL Health Medical Group are accepting new patients. To learn more, call their office directly at 970.298.9600 or visit their website at sclhealth.org to schedule an appointment.