I have found as an Escort that focusing on skills that buff/heal hull, as well as Eng consoles that buff/heal hull go a much longer way to surviving then shields.
Just my experiences.
That may be true, but you still can't ignore the shields. You can't say, "Oh, I have these skills and consoles that buff and heal, I'll just throw whatever crap I can find into my shields slot." Shields are an important part of the equation, and the part that was actually being asked about here. Just because I didn't ask about abilities or consoles or anything doesn't mean I'm not thinking of them.