What stands out most about CNP Nicole Olicker? A love of learning. From an associate’s degree nurse to advanced practice provider, Nicole’s constant zeal to learn the “whys” and “hows” of different disease processes and treatments is what motivated her to advance in her field and offer the best care possible to her patients in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Today, as Akron Children’s newest certified nurse practitioner in our NICU, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to serve our tiniest population. She is an integral part of the specialized NICU team to care for critically ill premature and term newborns around the clock with common prenatal conditions, such as breathing, intestinal and surgical problems, congenital heart defects and very low birth weight.
A lifelong learner, Nicole continues to expand her knowledge base by serving as the president-elect on the board of the Northern Ohio Association of Neonatal Nurses and volunteering for Project NICU, which supports NICU parents and providers. Her thirst for knowledge is a testament to how she goes the extra mile to learn new ways to save lives, while reducing long-term health issues for newborns.
Why did you choose to come to Akron Children’s Hospital?
As I became more experienced in my role as an advanced practice provider, I was able to identify the goals and values I held for myself as a provider and the experiences that I wanted my patients to have. After talking to my peers already working at Akron Children’s, I realized the framework was there to meet and exceed my goals and values. I also discovered the high-level patient care that is provided here and I wanted to be part of that, as well.
Describe your role at Akron Children’s and what you hope to accomplish.
I am a neonatal nurse practitioner in Akron Children’s NICU! I work with all the members of the medical team (physicians, nurses, respiratory therapist, pharmacists, physical therapists and more) to help critically ill premature and term newborns get better and go home to their families.
I work with an amazing, hard working group of neonatologists and advanced practice providers here at Akron Children’s. I can only hope to mesh into the team and contribute using my years of bedside experience as a NICU nurse and my previous experience as an advanced practice provider prior to coming to Akron.
What is your area of expertise and why did you choose it?
Being a neonatal nurse practitioner is a very specialized section of advanced practice. I fell in love with the NICU the minute I walked into it during a shadowing experience in nursing school and I have never looked back! I have never worked with any other patient population since I became a registered nurse in 2007.
Do you have a favorite instructor or mentor?
Without a doubt one of the best mentors I’ve had is Dr. Sharon Groh-Wargo from MetroHealth in Cleveland. She is a professor of pediatrics and nutrition at Case Western Reserve University and served as the lead dietician for the NICU at MetroHealth until her retirement last year.
Dr. Groh-Wargo is not only one of the nicest human beings on the planet, but she also is without a doubt one of the smartest. She was constantly educating the staff and providers on the importance of neonatal nutrition, the effects of newborn growth, and the latest on supplements and fortification. I was always learning something from her, even if it was during a 5-minute quick conversation!
What excites you most about medicine?
The thing that excites me the most about neonatal medicine is how new it is. The survival of preterm infants is a new concept within the last 50 years, and every 10 years or so the lower limit of viability changes due to new technology. With lower viability limits, the number of patients with long-term health issues also decrease, and that is the number that is truly most important. Being able to save the life of a patient is important, but being able to save a life, while decreasing the number of long-term health issues is truly our goal.
When did you decide to become a provider and why?
I decided to become a neonatal nurse practitioner after I had been a bedside nurse for about 8 years. I felt very solid in my knowledge base as a bedside nurse, but I wanted to know more about the “whys” and “hows”. I had an interest in performing procedures and being more involved in plans of care. I never regretted making this decision and I am constantly learning new things, which is something that I truly love.
What achievements are you most proud of?
I am definitely most proud of my degrees. I started as an associate’s degree nurse. I then obtained my bachelor’s and subsequently my master’s, all while continuing to work full time in the NICU and raising my daughter. Looking back, I have no idea how I did that!
What do you like most about being a provider?
I love being able to learn about the different disease processes and treatments available. Being able to talk to the different specialists within the hospital and learn from them is another great side of being an advanced practice provider. I do occasionally miss bedside nursing, but I love being able to perform procedures and also sit down and talk with my families.
Who makes up your family, including pets and their names?
The real bosses of our family are the 13 pounds of combined fluff that are Daisy and Rosie! Daisy is our 2-year-old MaltiPoo and Rosie is our 1-year-old CavaPoo. I also live with my wife, Arielle, who is a neonatologist in Cleveland. Julia, my 12-year-old, plays softball and volleyball year-round and wants to be a doctor when she grows up!
Who’s on your playlist?
Currently, Lizzo is on my playlist. The music that will never come off my playlist includes songs by: Imagine Dragons, Adele, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, Jack Johnson, John Mayer, Third Eye Blind, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson.
What’s the hardest lesson you had to learn?
Patience. Every moment something in my life has not “gone to plan” has ultimately led to something better happening in its place. Learning to embrace and accept being uncomfortable in uncertain and challenging times led me to finding strength within myself, and sometimes an even greater path than the one I was on.
What do you do when you aren’t working?
If it is summertime, I am usually on the softball field watching Julia play. In the winter, I am probably by a fireplace somewhere complaining about the cold! Every day I try to fit in a workout. I am a Peloton addict (#GatorSocks, if you want to be friends!). Recently, I lost 80 pounds by trying to do something active every day!
In addition, I volunteer for Project NICU, which supports NICU parents and providers, and I also am the president-elect on the board of the Northern Ohio Association of Neonatal Nurses.
What’s the best compliment you ever received?
The best compliment I have ever received is whenever someone tells me my daughter is kind or respectful. I feel like that is reflective on how she is being raised. We all question ourselves as parents constantly, so to have someone tell you that your child is doing something wonderful is a reassurance that you are doing OK!