Long before she was hired as a float nurse in 2002, Vickie Webb, senior nursing performance improvement coordinator, roamed the halls of Akron Children’s Hospital as both a pediatric patient and teen volunteer (who were called Candy Stripers back then for the red-and-white striped smock they wore). Now, as she prepares to retire from her 20-year nursing career at Children’s, she reflects on her contributions, her memories and what she’s grateful for.
What brought you to Children’s?
I always dreamed of working here, but we immediately moved out of the area after I completed my nursing degree. I worked as a pediatric nurse in Columbus and then in Georgia until my husband’s work transferred us back to Akron. Children’s was the only organization I applied to, and I felt so fortunate to be hired.
Who inspired you to become a nurse?
I was initially inspired by the wonderful nurses who took care of me during my childhood hospitalizations. (This was before parents were permitted to stay overnight so it was quite scary.) After high school, I got an associate degree and became a medical assistant in a pediatric ambulatory office. My very good friend, Nancy Aho, who is a clinical nurse specialist on the school age unit, encouraged me to go back to school for a nursing degree. I owe her a lot!
What roles have you held during your tenure?
I started as a float nurse. After 3 years I found a home on the infant/toddler unit. I started to get involved in committees outside of the unit. The experiences and opportunities provided from serving on those committees – nursing guidelines and Employee Foundation Council – made me want to do more. First, I became a unit-based educator, which helped me discover that safety and quality were my passions. Since 2009, I’ve focused on improving the quality of care as a unit-based performance improvement coordinator and then to my current position (with a short stint in 2017 as a clinical analytics coordinator).
What have your biggest contributions/accomplishments been while here?
Being a part of our journey to high reliability. I was on the initial team to teach error prevention and have now provided this education to more than 8,000 employees. I hope my passion for safety and reliability in health care has inspired others.
My other big contribution has been supporting Nursing Shared Professional Governance (SPG). SPG provides a structure for nurses to have a voice in improving the quality of patient care, the patient/family experience and nurse engagement. This is the foundation of achieving Magnet status, and I’m proud to have served as Magnet champion for our first Magnet designation and most recently as senior performance improvement coordinator to ensure the necessary metrics were available for our fourth designation.
In what ways has Akron Children’s changed since you started here?
The best change I’ve seen is the transformation to a culture of safety. Everyone is supported to speak up for safety – for both our patients and co-workers.
What gave you the most satisfaction at work?
Working with children and their families. Children are honest, sweet, appreciative little people – I love kids! When I’m able to make a child smile, even in difficult situations, there is nothing better. Providing care to help them feel better, both from the bedside and from working to implement evidence-based practices to improve nursing care, is extremely rewarding.
What’s your most memorable and/or happiest moment at Akron Children’s?
Receiving the National Society of Pediatric Nurses (SPN) Clinical Nurse of the Year award in 2017 is by far the most memorable in my career. I also served as president of the Ohio chapter of SPN for 5 years. In 2018, the Ohio chapter received the Chapter of the Year award. I encourage all our nurses to become members!
My happiest moments outside of patient care are working with the amazing departments and people in the organization. Quality improvement is an interprofessional effort. These co-workers from different departments and across the organization brought me joy and made coming to work a pleasure.
What do you look forward to the most in retirement?
Being able to travel, hike, read and spend lots of time with family.
Do you have any advice for people just starting at Children’s?
Learn as much as you can from others, take advantage of the opportunities that are provided, and don’t let anything hold you back!