What stands out most about Katina Kokkinos, CNP? A talkative, friendly and contagious personality that’s sure to brighten any room. It’s a character trait that helps her get to know patients on a personal level, establish a good rapport and, ultimately, create trustworthy relationships.
Katina brings that positive vibe to her newest role as Akron Children’s certified nurse practitioner in our Center for Allergy and Immunology, where she spends her days testing, diagnosing and treating children and teens with allergies, eczema, asthma and other immune system disorders. She enjoys most working with kids with food allergies because to her, it’s a challenging and constantly evolving field where she works hard to expand her patients’ diets, rather than limiting them.
This area of medicine well suits Katina and her personality because it affords her generous amounts of time with patients to navigate the complexities and layers of concern with allergies and immune disorders. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons she chose this specialty in the first place.
Why did you choose to come to Akron Children’s Hospital?
While doing some clinical rotations at Akron Children’s during nursing school, I immediately realized that the culture was different here than any other hospital at which I previously had worked. Many health-care facilities attempt to pride themselves on patient-centered care, but Akron Children’s truly personifies this mission.
Describe your role at Akron Children’s and what you hope to accomplish.
I am a nurse practitioner in the Center for Allergy and Immunology. I’m drawn to food allergies specifically, and I hope to expand my patients’ diets, as opposed to limiting them.
I’m drawn to food allergies because the science around them has changed so much over the last decade and it’s interesting to see the evolution. For example, patients used to be told to avoid nuts until age 1 or 2, and now it’s encouraged to eat “common allergen” foods by 4 to 6 months of age to potentially prevent an allergy.
As a clinic, we attempt to expand patients’ diets, instead of avoiding foods unnecessarily. For example, if a patient had a peanut allergy, some providers would be wary about the child trying other “highly allergenic” foods, such as tree nuts, shrimp and eggs. Today, we know that within reason, the only foods we have to be concerned about are the ones a patient had a reaction to in the past. We don’t need to unnecessarily avoid all foods that may or may not be related to the food in question, unless a clinical history indicates so.
What is your area of expertise and why did you choose it?
I chose to work in allergy and immunology for a few reasons. First of all, I enjoy the complexity of it and secondly, I enjoy the generous amount of time I can have with patients.
While technically allergy is considered a specialized field, it includes so many layers. Allergies can range from food allergies to eczema to asthma and so much in between. Due to the complexity of it, allergists seem to spend significantly more time with patients compared to other specializations. So, I think it’s great to be able to spend extra meaningful time with patients and identify so many different layers of potential concern.
Do you have a favorite instructor or mentor?
My favorite by far was my pediatrics instructor, Connie, at Kent State University. She was definitely a reason why I chose to work in a pediatric setting.
What impression do you hope to leave with your patients each day?
I hope patients and families leave knowing their concerns were acknowledged and they felt safe discussing them with me.
How does your personality fit your role?
I love to talk and get to know patients on a personal level. I think this helps establish a good rapport and aids in creating a trustworthy relationship.
What excites you most about medicine?
I love how medicine is always evolving. This might actually frustrate some people, but to me, it means there will always be more resources to help my patients.
What would you most like to change about health care today?
I would love to change access to medications from an insurance standpoint. It is frustrating when patients may not be able to have access to ideal treatments or medications due to high out-of-pocket costs.
What’s the first thing you do when you get home from work?
I kiss my son.
What’s one thing about you that most people don’t know?
I’ve never seen the movie, “The Notebook.”
If you could choose your age forever, what age would it be and why?
I’d choose my current age, 28. I’m lucky enough to have a beautiful, healthy family. We just welcomed a baby boy a few months ago and I can’t imagine life without him!
What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
I hit the snooze button.
What was your first paying job?
I worked at American Eagle Outfitters.