May 21, 2019

Shannon D. Burris, RN, MSN, FNP-BC

Congratulations, it is an Honor to Feature Shannon D. Burris, RN, MSN, FNP-BC
Family Nurse Practitioner, Sentara Family Medicine Physicians, Gloucester


For 21 years, Shannon Burris has cared for families in Gloucester and Mathews counties. She now sometimes treats the children of patients she first met as children. An advanced nursing student completing a rotation in her practice was her patient as a pre-teen. 

Burris knows much more about her patients than their names and faces. She has heard about their families, hobbies, vacations and life highs and lows. She prides herself on listening, which to her is the most important part of being a nurse practitioner. 

“Especially in a small community, people don’t want to just be a chart – they want to be a person,” Burris says. “They know me as a person, too, and what has worked for me with health, diet or exercise. Even if I’m rushed and busy, I don’t want them to see that. I want them to feel important. To me, that’s the best way to really make an impact on their health care and the decisions they make.” 

Burris has worked at Sentara Family Medicine Physicians since 2010, following 13 years at Sentara’s Mathews Family Medicine. She has lived in Gloucester since 1997, where her husband, Brian, is an Associate Pastor at a local church; they also have raised two teenagers in the community. 

“I’m always running into my patients around town,” Burris laughs. “I go into Walmart and my kids joke that it takes forever to leave because I must know everyone in town. I am really grateful to practice in a place where I can build those kinds of relationships.”  

Burris, 50, grew up in Kentucky and originally planned on becoming a dentist. In college at Transylvania University in Lexington, she pivoted to a psychology major before deciding the variety of nursing appealed to her more. 

After moving to Virginia Beach with her family in 1990, Burris earned a nursing degree from DePaul Medical Center School of Nursing in Norfolk in 1993 and spent a year as a staff nurse in the Medical-Surgical Unit at Chesapeake General Hospital, with a subspecialty in oncology. 

Working with cancer patients taught Burris the value and rewards of getting to know families on a more long-term basis. “I wanted to do even more – to develop even more of these deeper relationships with patients,” she recalls. “That’s what I like most about being a nurse practitioner, along with the range of cases. You never know who or what is going to walk through the door each day.” 

Burris earned a master’s degree in Nursing and a Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston in 1997. In addition to the extensive experience she has built caring for patients of all ages since then, she still draws on her general psychology background in conversations with patients struggling with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

“There’s such a shortage of mental health specialists around the country, and especially in smaller communities like ours, that we are having to manage medications and provide some counseling on a daily basis in primary care,” she notes.  

Burris, a member of the Virginia Council of Nurse Practitioners, has no plans to leave Gloucester, where she enjoys volunteering with her church and spending time with family and friends. Her daughter Caitlyn, 18, works as a dental assistant – her mom’s once-planned-upon career – and her son Chase, 14, is a freshman in high school. 

“My life is here, and my patients are an important part of that life,” she says. “I feel very loyal to them, and while not every day is easy, I do feel like I am making a difference.” 

We are grateful for local Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants who serve our local health care community! Please let us know if there is an NP or PA you would like to see honored in a future edition.