Jenna Berryhill credits her very first patient to turning her interest to ENT. While a NICU nurse by day and nurse practitioner student by night, she served as the primary nurse to Richie, an inpatient with a tracheostomy. She cared for him from infancy until he was discharged 13 months later, while building a deep bond with him and his family — one that remains strong today. For her, it was rewarding to watch him grow, meet major milestones and ultimately take part in his journey home.
As Akron Children’s newest certified nurse practitioner in our Ear, Nose and Throat Center, it’s a dream-come-true for Jenna to diagnose and treat other children and teens with ENT diseases and disorders, from common ear infections to obstructive sleep apnea to congenital hearing loss. She’s thrilled to gain more skills and expertise in this specialty, while splitting her time with outpatients in the ENT Center and making rounds on inpatients in the hospital.
Jenna started at Akron Children’s as a teen volunteer and continued in that role for the next 8 years until she later returned to start her career here as a nurse. For her, Akron Children’s isn’t just a job, but instead is a way of life.
Why did you choose to come to Akron Children’s Hospital?
Akron Children’s has been a part of my life since 2009 when I started as a teen volunteer. I continued in that role through high school and college, for a total of 8 years. After graduating nursing school, I returned to work as an inpatient registered nurse in the NICU. While working in the NICU for 6 years, I went back to school to earn my Master’s in Nursing, with a focus in Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. After graduation, I knew I wanted to stay at Akron Children’s since it has already been a huge part of my life.
Describe your role at Akron Children’s and what you hope to accomplish.
I am a pediatric nurse practitioner in the Ear, Nose and Throat Center. I spend half of my time seeing patients in the clinic and the other half rounding on inpatients in the hospital. I am excited to accomplish more skills and expertise in this specialty.
What is your area of expertise and why did you choose it?
My area of expertise is primary care pediatrics. I chose pediatrics because of my previous nursing experience in the NICU and my love for working with children.
When did you decide to become a provider and why?
After working as a bedside nurse for 2 years, I wanted to do more with my career. I decided going back to school to become a nurse practitioner would be a great way to further my career, while still being able to work with kids every day.
What do you like most about being a provider?
I enjoy most being able to make decisions for my patients to provide the very best care. As a provider, I get to be more involved with the medical decisions to help improve my patient outcomes.
What impression do you hope to leave with your patients each day?
I hope that every patient I encounter leaves knowing that I truly care for them and want to help them achieve the best outcome possible. I want patients to have confidence in my care, and I hope to build a trusting relationship with every one of them.
What’s the most memorable thing that’s ever happened to you as a provider?
While working as an inpatient nurse in the NICU, I got the opportunity to care for a patient with a tracheostomy. This meant that every shift, I cared for him during his 13-month stay. When he went home, I continued to do some homecare nursing for him. This was such a rewarding and memorable experience for me, not only as a registered nurse, but as a soon-to-be provider. I took care of him while going through school, and I have him to thank for my interest in ENT and where I ended up in my career.
What achievements are you most proud of?
I am most proud of graduating with my Master’s in Nursing. I was going to school and doing clinical during the COVID-19 pandemic, so there were definitely some hurdles I had to overcome to finish my degree. I am proud of myself for accomplishing this and furthering my career during such a difficult time in the world.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Springfield, Ohio. I went to Archbishop Hoban High School.
Who makes up your family, including pets and their names?
I have two younger siblings who also have careers in medicine. My brother is a physician assistant at Summa Health and my sister is a registered nurse here at Akron Children’s on the infant and toddler floor.
I have been married to my husband, Blake, for 4 years. We do not have any children yet, but we do have a Labradoodle named Rory. She is the best dog we could ask for, and we treat her as though she is our child.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
From a very young age, I always wanted to be a “baby nurse.” This was before I even knew there was a NICU. After I started volunteering at Akron Children’s in high school, I learned about the NICU and I knew that is where I wanted to work one day. I am happy and proud to say that I grew up and did exactly what I always wanted to do.
What do you do when you aren’t working?
When I’m not at work, I enjoy traveling and staying active. I enjoy taking my dog for walks to the park and I also really enjoy doing yoga with my husband and friends.
What is your favorite vacation spot and why?
I love traveling to Hilton Head Island with my family. Growing up, we went to Hilton Head every year for extended family vacations. This is my favorite place to vacation because of the memories I have from childhood and getting to spend quality time with family.