Teresa Fletcher, CNP, hopes to live up to the legacy of her “work dad” and most influential mentor, Dr. James Fitzgibbon. She credits the former director of Akron Children’s Adolescent Medicine Center for helping her develop and grow in both the practice and leadership by teaching her how to advocate for and offer teens the confidential, nonjudgmental care they need to develop into competent adults.
As she takes on a new role at Akron Children’s as certified nurse practitioner and program development coordinator in School-Based Health Services, Teresa hopes to pass on that same passion, patience and knowledge to help kids succeed in school. Her goal is to grow school-based health centers in innovative ways, while bringing high-quality care to kids where they reside most — in school — to improve health equity and patient outcomes among students.
Teresa is excited to be working with both children and teens because this is a moldable time in their lives. So when given the opportunity, she couldn’t think of any reason not to help motivate kids to live their best lives and continue a legacy of dedication to the community’s youth.
Why did you choose to come to Akron Children’s Hospital?
I started working at Akron Children’s at the age of 19 as a nurse technician. During a clinical rotation here while in nursing school, I felt like the hospital was more like home and less sterile compared to any other health-care facility that I had been to at that point. I continue to work at Akron Children’s because it feels like home and the employees are like family.
Describe your role at Akron Children’s and what you hope to accomplish?
My new role is a certified nurse practitioner and program development coordinator for School-Based Health Services. I hope to grow school-based health centers in innovative ways and bring high-quality care to kids where they are the most — at school.
What is your area of expertise and why did you choose it?
My clinical area of expertise has been adolescent medicine for the last 10 years. To me, school health isn’t that much different. I choose to care for these children and teens because they are at a moldable time in their lives. If you have the opportunity to help motivate them to live their best lives, why wouldn’t you?
Do you have a favorite instructor or mentor?
Dr. James Fitzgibbon will always be my biggest mentor. He has helped me learn and grow not just in adolescent medicine, but also in leadership. His dedication to the youth of our community is unmatched and I hope to live up to his legacy.
When did you decide to become a provider and why?
I became a nurse practitioner because I had a close cousin (more like a brother to me) develop cancer. At that time, I was considering becoming a physician. He steered me towards nursing based on his patient experience as a cancer patient. He told me that his nurses and nurse practitioner providers were really the people that helped motivate him to fight and live on. Who wouldn’t want to inspire others to live? I know I did.
What impression do you hope to leave with your patients each day?
My biggest goal for my patients is to meet them where they are and reassure them that they are normal and are not alone.
What are you most looking forward to?
I am looking forward to working with the school communities to improve health equity and patient outcomes among students. I hope to grow the Akron Children’s network using schools as a strategic partner.
What medical innovations do you think will have the most impact in the next 5 – 10 years?
Telemedicine is the way of the future. I believe there will be much innovation in this area.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in rural portage county, Diamond, Ohio. When I moved to Akron for college, city living was a culture shock!
Who makes up your family, including pets and their names?
My family includes my husband, Kevin, and our children: Rose (9), Grace (7) and Jamie (1). We also have 2 dogs: Frankie, a 15-year-old Dachshund, and Floki, a 4.5-year-old Husky.
What’s one thing on your bucket list?
Skydiving! I would love to go skydiving and have that thrill at some point.
What’s one thing about you that most people don’t know?
I love tattoos and tattoo art. Under professional clothing, I have multiple tattoos that are hidden from view.
What makes you get up in the morning?
My tiny humans. Every day, they physically wake me up each morning, but they also are the reason for life and what makes everything worth it.
What’s your favorite quote?
“The grass isn’t greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it.”
What advice would you give your younger self?
Someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business, so stop worrying about it.