On Jan. 12, Kris Grayem, MSN, APRN, RN-BC, was named chief population health officer at Akron Children’s and executive director of Akron Children’s Health Collaborative (ACHC). In her roles, she is responsible for the overall operational and financial performance of ACHC and the hospital’s value-based care programs. Since Jan. 2021, Kris has served as interim executive director of ACHC which manages the health care services of approximately 96,000 children and teenagers in 13 counties of Northeast Ohio.
Kris received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from the University of Akron. She has been with Akron Children’s for over 30 years, holding a variety of positions. Akron Children’s president and CEO Chris Gessner says, “Kris has been an authentic and innovative leader who has pioneered the population health mindset at Akron Children’s and built the core competencies of care management, both within and outside of the walls of the hospital, that are critical to our success in the world of prepaid health care.”
Below she shares a little about her life both inside and outside Akron Children’s.
Who or what inspired you to choose nursing as a profession?
I became a nurse because I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. I’ve always been motivated by helping others achieve their goals. Nursing offers an opportunity to help people work towards achieving a healthy state of being. Being in leadership allows me to continue to make a difference and help both staff and patients achieve their goals.
Tell us a little about your background at Akron Children’s?
I started at Akron Children’s in the emergency department as a nursing technician while I was in nursing school. At 19 years old, I never intended to be like the old timers that had been at Children’s for 10 years. Thirty-four years later I feel a little different about both staying at Akron Children’s and what an old timer is! My first nursing position was in the NICU as a staff nurse. I held several roles in the NICU in my 11-year tenure, including clinical coordinator, pediatric nurse practitioner, and I established the first clinical nurse specialist role at the institution in the NICU. I’ve also worked as a nurse practitioner in both primary care and developmental pediatrics and have held leadership roles in the NeuroDevelopmental Science Center, the department of pediatrics and population health.
Tell us about the duties of your current role?
I am responsible for developing and implementing integrated models of care, care management programs and services that control medical costs, create clinical efficiencies and improve child health. I oversee the population health and ACHC dedicated staff and have functional responsibility for care management, case management, utilization management, disease management, provider network development, provider engagement and alignment, clinical integration, prevention and wellness programs.
Tell us about your family.
My husband, Don, and I have been married for 31 years. Don is my best friend, a true partner and a great dad. We have 2 amazing children. Hannah, 23, is in her first year of law school at the University of Houston. She is smart, funny and determined. Matthew, 20, is a junior at The Ohio State University majoring in finance. He is athletic, wise and driven.
Hobbies/things you enjoy doing outside of work?
I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, shopping, baking, traveling or anything that I can do with others and keeps me busy.
What was your first paying job?
Working at the Dairy Queen. I loved that job – it taught me so much about customer service and leadership.
Do you have a favorite quote or mantra you live by?
- Choose a career you love, and you will never work a day in your life. -Confucius
I think this is so true. I love what I do, and I have never had a job I didn’t love.
- Everything happens for a reason.
I believe we must be open to pain and difficulty to learn what we are supposed to gain from an experience.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
When I was growing up, my father was a motorcycle mechanic who managed a motorcycle shop as a hobby. He also fixed racing “bikes” and I often attended the motorcycle races with him. I grew up with a love for motorcycles, ATVs and snowmobiles. I can be a bit of a daredevil if the opportunity presents itself.