The WellSpan Spotlight

Health and wellness

Nurse's size-12, red sneakers are his 'accountability shoes' 

Nurse's size-12, red sneakers are his 'accountability shoes'

You can't miss Tyler Shenk's size-12, bright red sneakers as the registered nurse makes his way around the surgical unit at WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital. 

He calls the sneakers his "accountability shoes." 

"I am drawn to bright colors, and I have always worn bright shoes," says Tyler, a husband and father of a 1-year-old, who has a gentle sense of humor. "It's kind of my shtick. So many people are in and out of patients' rooms and no one remembers everyone's names, but people remember the shoes. My shoes are a visible reminder to me to hold myself accountable to provide the best for our patients. Everyone is an individual, with their own characteristics, and they all deserve the compassionate care that I would want for myself or a family member." 

Tyler's shoes – which he combines with equally bright patterned socks on his feet and a Baby Yoda-themed surgical cap on his head – are great conversation starters. Older patients sometimes talk about the shoes their grandkids wear, joint replacement patients note that they are a beacon for them as they walk in the hallways. 

Wendy Powell, the nurse manager of the surgical unit, says patients remember Tyler, not just because of shoes but because of his kindness and care. The nurse manager first met Tyler when he was phlebotomist, taking blood samples for the lab at the hospital. Other team members always talked about how he went the extra mile in that role, getting blanket or water for a patient and making sure they were comfortable when he was out on the floors. When he decided to go to nursing school, it was clear that was a great choice for him. 

"He lives our values every day," she says.