Dr. Michael Shannon can’t walk through the lobby of Sea View Pediatrics without at least one parent coming in for a hug.
After nearly 45 years in pediatric health care in Orange County, he’s earned more than a few fans – and the respect is mutual.
“Much of what a pediatrician learns is after training,” Dr. Shannon says.
Bring on the hugs though: At the end of this month, the 73-year-old will retire, completing a career that has spanned more than four decades and thousands of patients.
Born in Kansas, Dr. Shannon crisscrossed the country as a youth and young adult before ultimately attending medical school at Northwestern University in Illinois.
Dr. Shannon pursued a career in medicine following a childhood with frequent visits to doctors’ offices.
“I had bad allergies as a kid, an early tonsillectomy, a hernia at 7, appendicitis and asthma,” he says. “I was in the doctor’s office quite a bit. My parents seemed to like him, so I thought that would be a good thing to do.”
When it came to choosing his specialty, Dr. Shannon settled on pediatrics because he enjoyed the innocent nature of children.
“I always liked kids. Children don’t judge you, and their charts were really thin,” he says with a laugh.
When it came time for his residency and internship, Dr. Shannon and his wife, who’d long grown tired of cold Midwestern winters, headed west to California.
Ultimately, the pair settled in Orange County, where Dr. Shannon began a private pediatrics practice in July 1973. He practiced near Mission Hospital until 1995, when he joined Sea View Pediatrics, now a part of the CHOC Network.
Over more than four decades of practice, Dr. Shannon has treated thousands of Orange County children.
“I remember him being a cool doctor,” says Steve Concialdi, a patient of Dr. Shannon’s as a child and who is now a captain with the Orange County Fire Authority. “He was hip and he was fun.”
The doctor reached an icon status for a young Steve when he was about 10. He’d been battling a cold and his mother thought he should skip a school whale watching trip. After hearing Dr. Shannon’s opinion, mom Bonnie was swayed and Steve went on the trip.
“I went and I had a blast,” he says. “I ended up throwing up, but that’s because I got sea sick. But I just remember as little boy, what a cool doctor he was. We saw Dr. Shannon for years.”
And so, when Steve and his sister, Carrie, started their own families, Dr. Shannon was a clear choice for their children’s pediatrician – and Bonnie agreed.
“I told them, you’ve got to go to Dr. Shannon,” she said. “I wouldn’t stand for anyone else. I went to their first appointments too. I wanted to see Dr. Shannon because I missed him.”
The Concialdis are just one of many families in Orange County that have had generations of children see Dr. Shannon. The phenomenon is a testimony to Dr. Shannon’s long career and strong relationships with his patients and families.
And that bond was never more evident than in March 2011, when he was seriously injured in a car accident. His patients and families – past and present – showed an outpouring of concern for him during a long recovery period.
The swell of support clarified for Dr. Shannon the impact his career had made on patients and families.
“The accident made me feel even more than ever before that I didn’t want anything happening to my babies,” he says of his patients.
And now, nearly seven years later, Dr. Shannon says he’s ready to hang up his stethoscope and entrust the care of his babies to the other Sea View physicians.
Dr. Shannon plans to spend his retirement traveling and focusing on his grandchildren. His future trips include travel to Louisville, Ky., to visit his daughter, Vanessa, and Ireland and Spain.