Although she was recently named Akron Children’s Magnet Nurse of the Year for exemplifying excellence in professional practice, Fran Feesler, MSN, APRN, FNP, an advanced practice provider (APP) in the Heart Center, didn’t initially plan to become a nurse.
“I have a degree in elementary education, but in the early ‘90s teaching jobs were scarce,” she says.
So, while working as a substitute teacher, Fran took a job as a receptionist at an OB/GYN office. It was there her interest in nursing was piqued.
“The nurses in the office were amazing. They were always busy doing something for the patients,” she says. “They loved their jobs, the patients, and their profession. After I had been there a year, I started taking classes towards a nursing degree.”
In 1998, Fran began her nursing career at Akron Children’s in the pediatric intensive care unit, where she worked as a staff nurse for 14 years. After completing her nurse practitioner certification in 2012, she worked in pediatric surgery before transitioning to her current role in 2016.
“Since joining the Heart Center, Fran has taken on many roles and challenges,” says Kristen Breedlove, lead APP in the Heart Center. “She’s an integral member of the inpatient team — covering rounding on inpatient cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery patients, along with doing pre-procedure history and physicals and completing post-procedure orders and triage for cardiac catheterization and surgery patients.”
Fran says nursing has been a great career choice for her.
“As a bedside nurse and an APP, my job is very rewarding. I enjoy taking care of patients and helping families through their hospital stay. I look forward to seeing the progress the patients make and how their lives are normalizing after surgery,” she says.
“She handles these tremendously complex patients with joy and ease,” says Kristen.
“I am very fortunate to be a part of the Cardiology/CT surgery team,” says Fran. “They are a very dedicated group of providers. They are supportive of our group; they listen, explain and guide us through challenging cases.”
Fran is the primary provider responsible for international normalized ratio monitoring for all Heart Center patients (with oversight from Dr. Lane).
“Her coordination and management of these patients exemplifies excellence in leadership and has provided a standardized approach for management,” says Kristen. “She works closely with the nurses to ensure timely follow-up and adjustment of [medication] as needed. She knows the patients well, which is a tremendous advantage as these patients can be very complex.”
Another part of Fran’s job is to work with pediatric surgery to provide wound care management for cardiothoracic surgery patients.
“She is a team player, always willing to do what is needed to take care of patients,” says Kristen. “She is a tireless advocate for doing what’s best and right for patients.”
As part of her nomination, Fran was recognized for being an excellent practitioner, educator, team member and leader who is deeply committed to her practice.
“She communicates exceptionally well with families and nursing staff and thrives working in a team environment,” says Kristen. “She has responded to the changing dynamics of health care, including the pandemic and accompanying nurse staffing challenges.”
Fran says being named Magnet Nurse of the Year was an unexpected honor.
“When I tell people that I work in pediatrics, they typically say, I don’t know how you can do that, that must be so hard,” she says. “My answer is kids are resilient. They just want to be kids. They are strong, and they muscle through their illness to get on with their lives. That’s what’s so great about working in pediatrics.”