FALL RIVER — A professor, a life saver, a missionary, and a mom.
And maybe a pitcher for the Red Sox. Just maybe.
Shelley Lynch, a nurse practitioner and professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, is one of 10 nurses from around the country who will be honored at the Boston Red Sox Nurse Appreciation Night on May 15.
Lynch and the other nine nominees were chosen by Nurse.org from a pool of 1,400 nurses for making a difference in their communities. The winner, to be announced, will throw the first pitch at the game.
“I feel honored to be one of 10,” Lynch said. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Lynch doesn’t know who nominated her for the First-Pitch Nurse Hero Contest, but she was likely chosen because of her diverse background and tenacity to lead in her profession.
Currently, Lynch of Hanover, teaches full-time at UMass Dartmouth where she’s creating a global health program. She also works part-time as critical care nurse at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and as a family nurse practitioner at Freccero Medical Associates in Brockton.
“Although I’m a professor, I’m a nurse first,” Lynch said. “I’m a better professor because I’m a nurse first.”
Lynch also teaches CPR, travels to Haiti each March to care for patients in Port-au-Prince, is a mom of three boys, ages 7, 5, and 2 — and there’s also that bit about her saving a life at the airport.
“I somehow get it all in,” Lynch said.
It was in 2014 after offering a talk in Buffalo, N.Y. that Lynch was at Logan Airport on her way home, when she saw a man on the floor struggling to breathe. She immediately recognized it as a symptom of cardiac arrest and jumped into action, announcing she was a nurse, and giving orders to those in the crowd to call for help and retrieve a defibrillator kept at the airport.
She shocked the man’s heart twice and performed chest compressions until an ambulance arrived to take him to Mass General Hospital.
“He had a pulse and was breathing when I left,” Lych said.
She later learned he was a 60-year-old man, and that he did survive because of her quick actions. She was honored by the Massachusetts State Police at the State House for saving his life at the airport that day.
Though she’d revived hundreds if not thousands of people in the emergency room during her 18-year career, she’d never saved a life out of the hospital.
“I just cried,” Lynch said.
The experience led her to start the ACLS Academy, an American Heart Association training, with her husband Chad Lynch. Together they teach CPR to health professionals, the general public, and even the Girl Scouts.
As a registered nurse for many years, Lynch said she became a family nurse practitioner to be able to help to better the outcome for women and children patients in Port-au-Prince.
“I’ve always furthered my education,” Lynch said. She looks for a “gap to be filled” and takes on the challenge.
Each March, through a program of Partners in Development, she travels to a mobile health clinic in Haiti with other nurses and UMass Dartmouth nursing students, where they administer healthcare “in a rough area of extreme need.”
It’s become a passion for Lynch. “I love it,” she said.
At UMass, Lynch said her job is a “great fit. I really wanted to get more involved in global health.” She teaches nursing classes and is creating a global health program. “Here, there’s so much opportunity.”
When Lynch and her nursing colleagues are honored at the Red Sox game, it won’t be her first time in the stadium. Not only is she a fan, but during the seasons of 2011 to 2013, she was a stadium nurse, working behind home plate or the Green Monster, administering health care to fans during the games.
“It’s exciting,” Lynch said. “Because it’s Nurse’s Week (May 6 to 12), now it’s kind of turned it into something special. I’m humbled that I’m one of the 10.”
To view the profiles of all 10 nominees, visit nurse.org/articles/boston-red-sox-nurse-hero-contest.
Email Deborah Allard at firstname.lastname@example.org.