Akron Children’s Hospital’s Tracey Herstich and Julie Tsirambidis have been named the 2012 Pediatric Nurse Practitioners of the Year by the Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP).
Herstich is a critical care nurse practitioner in Akron Children’s pediatric intensive care unit.
Tsirambidis provides patient care at Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics’ Brecksville office. She also has administrative responsibilities at the hospital, serving as director of the hospital’s Advanced Practice Center.
“With this award we wanted to specifically recognize Tracey’s and Julie’s work through Akron Children’s Global Health Center in creating the first pediatric nurse practitioner program in Haiti,” said Stephanie Smith, awards chair for the Ohio chapter of NAPNAP. “Their vision for this program and compassion for the children of Haiti is truly a wonderful example for all.”
Herstich and Tsirambidis, who will be honored at a luncheon on Oct. 19 in Columbus, said they are “humbled” by the honor, and hope it promotes better recognition for their profession.
Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with master’s degrees and board certification in a specialty, such as pediatrics. They can perform physical exams, order medical tests, write prescriptions, treat common illnesses and manage chronic diseases. They maintain a close working relationship with physicians and consult them as needed.
“Nurse practitioners are on the front lines of health care delivery and how it is changing to improve access to care,” said Tsirambidis.
Herstich added that she believes she and Tsirambidis, together, are a good example of the excellent career opportunities in advanced practice nursing.
“I enjoy the pace of critical care and Julie enjoys primary care,” she said. “We have also had the opportunity to get involved in research and Julie, in her role with our Advanced Practice Center, joins physicians on the hospital’s medical staff. Of course, we also balance our busy professional lives with our roles as wives and mothers of young children.”
Herstich and Tsirambidis traveled to Haiti with other members of Akron Children’s medical staff in October 2011 to provide care at St. Damien’s Hospital, a children’s hospital, near Port Au Prince.
The goal of the trip was to lay the foundation for a program to train and educate Haitian nurses who wish to earn master’s degrees and become nurse practitioners. The biggest obstacle is financial – securing the funding to pay for about ten nurses to take time away from their daily work schedules – so they can afford to dedicate time to their continuing education.
Once that obstacle is overcome, having a steady supply of newly-trained nurse practitioners will go a long way to improving access to care in a country that currently only has one pediatric health care provider for every 100,000 children.
Herstich and Tsirambidis plan a second trip to Haiti in November.
Herstich resides in Green and Tsirambidis is a resident of Broadview Heights. Tsirambidis is accepting new patients at the Akron Children’s Brecksville office.
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