Since a little girl, Emily Martin wanted to be “a doctor for kids.” But while working toward her goal as a pre-med major, her life and dreams took an incredible turn. Her family was involved in a horrific car accident that left her brother, Will, with a traumatic brain injury and wheelchair bound.
In the unbearable 6 months that followed, she witnessed the intimate interaction nurses had with patients, the strong relationships formed and critical care they offered, all while being inspired by her brother’s heroic strength and perseverance to healing. That’s when Emily made the switch to nursing.
Today, as Akron Children’s newest nurse practitioner at Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics, Wooster, Emily offers families a unique level of support and empathy from someone who’s been there.
That’s why she takes the time to listen, truly understand and address each and every concern. It’s her goal parents leave feeling confident they understand the diagnosis, how to care for their child and what to do if the situation worsens. After all, don’t our heroes inspire us to be the best we can be?
Why did you choose to come to Akron Children’s Hospital?
I chose to come to Akron Children’s because I wanted to be part of a larger team working to take care of patients. I’ve been practicing at a private office for the past 6 years and while I loved the environment, my co-workers and patients, I was missing the opportunity to learn more and the resources to do so that a larger corporation could offer. My son has been seen by Akron Children’s specialists, as well as has had an inpatient stay at the hospital. As a mother, I have always had a wonderful experience with everyone here, including volunteers, nurses and providers.
Describe your role at Akron Children’s and what you hope to accomplish?
I am a pediatric nurse practitioner in the Wooster primary care office. I see patients ranging from newborn to age 21 for well checks and sick visits.
For sick visits, my goal is always to include the patient and parents in the visit as much as possible. I want the parent to feel confident when they leave the appointment that they know the diagnosis, how to best take care of their child and understand when to have the patient seen again if things are not improving.
For well checks, I always want the parents leaving the appointment feeling like their concerns were addressed, knowing upcoming milestones to look for and how best to ensure the patient meets those milestones, and feeling confident in the care they are providing the child. For older children, I always seek to find out what their perception of “healthy” is and guide them to make healthy decisions, in addition to addressing concerns.
I hope to make lasting relationships with my patients over the years so that both patient and parent are confident and happy in the care I provide.
What is your area of expertise and why did you choose it?
When I was in elementary school, I wrote a list of things I wanted to do in life and one was “be a doctor for kids.” As I got older, that dream never changed. While completing my pre-med classes at Kenyon College, I realized I wanted to practice in the outpatient setting of pediatrics and I could accomplish this goal by becoming a nurse practitioner. My family was involved in a horrific accident that left my youngest brother with a traumatic brain injury and he spent 6 months in the hospital. It was during this time that I was able to see the difference in interactions between my family and the nurses and doctors, and it solidified my decision to pursue a background in nursing prior to practicing.
What do you like most about being a provider?
I really enjoy the education part of being a provider. I love teaching families so they can make informed decisions about their health. Additionally, I enjoy expanding my knowledge in medicine. Not a day goes by where I don’t learn something new.
What impression do you hope to leave with your patients each day?
I hope my patients and families leave each encounter with me with confidence. As a parent, it is so easy to wonder if you are doing the right thing for your child, whether that is feeding, development, sleep and especially how best to care for a sick child. I hope my patient families leave knowing how to accomplish those things and that we are always here to answer questions.
What unique or different skills do you have that help you practice medicine?
I think the most unique skill I offer is my ability to empathize with patient families. I have firsthand experience as a family member who has been in a position of fear, the need to be heard and understand what is happening. I take with me the experience with my brother into my patient encounters and really try to make connections with my patients and their families, listen to what the family’s concerns are and make sure I address all of them.
What do you think is the hardest part of your job?
The hardest part of being a provider in a pediatric setting is witnessing a child being mistreated. Children are so innocent and require the care and safety provided by their caregivers and when that is breached, it makes me sick to my stomach.
What would you most like to change about health care today?
It saddens me that insurance companies and the ability to pay are barriers for people accessing health care. I believe the access to great health care should be available to anyone, regardless of an ability to pay.
Who makes up your family, including pets and their names?
My family consists of my husband, Brent, my sons, Luke (3.5) and Owen (2), with a third on the way. We also have a golden Labrador Retriever mix named Ollie.
What is one thing you haven’t done yet that you would like to achieve?
Prior to having kids, I used to enjoy running marathons. One goal I have is to run a half marathon under 2 hours. I would really like to train and complete a half Ironman triathlon someday.
Who are your heroes and why?
My heroes are my brother, Will, my dad, Pete, and my mom, Linda. My brother is the hardest working person I know. He was 12 when the accident occurred and he had to relearn how to sit, eat, talk and more. He worked so hard to accomplish these tasks and always did so with so much patience and determination. I know if I were in that situation, I would have shown anger and frustration, but he rarely ever did. As a result of his injuries, he will forever be wheelchair bound and need assistance with daily activities. Yet, he is almost always patient when relying on others to help him.
Now, as a parent, the strength that both of my parents showed during this difficult time and the years since (this summer marks the 10-year anniversary) and their commitment to my brother’s health and happiness is astounding to me.
What is your favorite vacation spot and why?
I love traveling and exploring new places, but with 2 small children this is difficult. Currently, my favorite vacation spot is Hilton Head Island. We have been going each summer for the past 5 summers. Not only is the trip affordable, but it has been fun to watch the kids go on walks to see alligators each morning, visit the turtles on the way to the beach, and watch them enjoy the sand and waves.
If you could choose your age forever, what age would it be and why?
I would pause time right now, if possible (maybe after this baby is born!). I absolutely love this stage in life — marriage is still new and exciting (we just celebrated 5 years) and I love the stages my kids are in. Watching them learn new things and seeing the world from their perspective is amazing.