At the beginning of her career, Shelly L. Allen spent many years working in education as a teacher and the principal of a local elementary school. Following a breast cancer diagnosis, she moved to her husband’s hometown in Wyoming, where she pursued certifications in CPR, as a health care leader and instrument specialist, and as a registered central service technician through Purdue University. Starting out in the wellness department at Memorial Hospital of Converse County, Ms. Allen became the director of the central sterile department in 2006, a position she holds to this day.
Holding considerable expertise in infection prevention, today, Ms. Allen oversees all the sterilization for surgical equipment at Memorial Hospital. In addition to sterilization, her department is also responsible for ensuring that all the instruments are properly put away in their sets, which can number up to 100 instruments, to ensure that surgeons have everything they need during an operation. Ms. Allen takes great pride in what she does, especially because her department is the first line of defense for patients undergoing surgery. One mistake in the cleaning process can cause significant complications and infections, so being meticulous in the cleaning process is vital.
Alongside her primary responsibilities, Ms. Allen has served as an ambassador for the American Cancer Society and is currently a public speaker with the Cancer Awareness Task Force. Looking toward the future, she hopes to help the task force expand to cover more Wyoming counties. She is also working toward a certification in health care that would give her a triple crown of certificates with the Healthcare Sterile Processing Association, something achieved by only 3% of members, and publishing a book. Active in her community as well, Ms. Allen is a regular volunteer with Joshua’s Storehouse and Distribution Center.
For her excellence, Ms. Allen has been the recipient of a number of honors and accolades, including being featured in various articles by the Cancer Awareness Task Force. In 2019, she was awarded a Helping Hand Recognition from the Norwegian Cruise Line, followed by a Volunteer of the Year Award by the city of Douglas, Wyoming, in 2022. Above everything, Ms. Allen considers the most gratifying part of her career to be knowing that patients are protected and kept safe by her work.