Akron Children’s Promise to “treat every child as our own” is not just an expression, but a motto Kristy Pandrea, CNP, is proud to live by as Akron Children’s newest certified nurse practitioner in School-Based Health Services. Being on the promise’s receiving end as a former NICU patient and now as a parent of a patient with complex medical needs, she is inspired to pay it forward by listening, effectively communicating, being compassionate and going the extra mile for every patient.
That’s why Kristy is incredibly grateful to call Akron Children’s home and serve in her new role at Akron Public Schools’ Firestone Cluster. She provides outpatient primary care, from well visits to sports physicals to sick care, to students there aged 3 to 21. Her goal is to remove barriers to accessing primary care, while promoting wellness, health education and immunizations to improve students’ health and well-being.
As a parent of a child with disabilities, Kristy brings a unique view into the families she serves, and hopes her understanding and experience will better help her anticipate their needs. After all, if she can make a positive difference in just one student’s life, big or small, she counts it as an A-plus day.
Why did you choose to come to Akron Children’s Hospital?
I chose Akron Children’s because it has been a constant in my life and has positively influenced the person and professional I am today.
I am a former NICU patient, volunteered here as a teenager during the summers, and learned here as a nursing student from caring, experienced and skilled providers.
Akron Children’s also is important to me as a parent. My oldest son, Xavier, has complex medical and developmental needs. He has been seen by many specialists here since birth, and I credit our outstanding PICU team for saving his life multiple times. His providers, nurses and therapists embody the Akron Children’s promise to “treat every child as our own.” They inspire me, and I feel incredibly grateful to find my home here as a pediatric nurse practitioner.
Describe your role at Akron Children’s and what you hope to accomplish.
I am a pediatric nurse practitioner in School-Based Health Services at Akron Public Schools’ Firestone Cluster. I provide outpatient primary care for students there aged 3 to 21. We offer patients and families the opportunity to have appointments for well care, sports physicals and sick care without having to leave school. It is such an exciting, innovative way to connect with families in the hopes of promoting wellness, providing education, and offering immunizations and convenient sick visits. My main goal is meeting the needs of children and families who might have barriers accessing primary care, and I’m very excited to be a part of this mission.
What is your area of expertise and why did you choose it?
Previously, I served as a school nurse. I saw firsthand how many students and families benefited from receiving primary care in the schools. Frequently, families have barriers to care (transportation, work, childcare) that prevent them from accessing regular well visits and immunizations. I believe strongly in well care, screenings and education for patients and families, so primary care is a very good fit for me!
Do you have a favorite instructor or mentor?
Kimberly Shookman, MD, at Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics, Barberton, is my favorite instructor and mentor. I was extremely lucky to be able to spend several semesters with her as a nurse practitioner student. She is an excellent, knowledgeable clinician who connects so well with her patients and families by spending time each visit on education and communication. I learned a great deal from Dr. Shookman, both from a clinical perspective and also because she is an outstanding example of a caring, communicative provider.
What impression do you hope to leave with your patients each day?
I hope patients and families know that I care about them personally, and that I truly listened to them. As a parent, I know how critically important that is for me when my kids are sick. To feel heard and valued as a member of my child’s care team is essential. I want my patients and families to feel I listened to all their concerns and together, we developed a plan of care for their child.
What unique or different skills do you have that help you practice medicine?
I’m the parent of a child who has complex medical and developmental needs. Being Xavier’s mom is a joy and a privilege. In many ways, he has become my teacher and has changed me and my perspective on life. I feel like this gives me a unique view into the needs of families like mine. As a provider, I hope my understanding and experience as a parent and caregiver will help other families through anticipation of their needs and effective communication.
What excites you most about medicine?
As a nurse practitioner in School-Based Health Services, I’m very excited to be a part of a new point of access for families for primary care in the schools and via telehealth. These new opportunities to help families access care are potentially life changing!
What does success mean to you?
Success to me means making a positive difference in people’s lives. If I have done that in any way, either big or small, my day was a success!
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Doylestown, Ohio, and I still live here with my family. My husband and I are high school sweethearts, and we live within a quarter mile from where we both grew up.
Who makes up your family, including pets and their names?
My husband’s name is Nick and we have been married for 22 years. We have two sons, Xavier, 19, and Bennett, 18, and 2 dogs: a black Lab named Lincoln and a black Lab-Corgi mix named LucyJane.
What is your greatest personal accomplishment?
My kids, Xavier and Bennett! I am so very proud of my boys. They have grown into amazing young men. They inspire me with their strength, persistence, patience and bravery, and they keep me smiling with their sense of humor and charm. Being their mom is such a gift.
What do you do when you aren’t working?
When I’m not working, I love spending time with my family. We love to play tennis and explore new places on bikes, especially when we travel. We try to visit one or two new areas in the country each year. This summer, we’re going to Newport, Rhode Island, and to Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine.
What was your first paying job?
My first paying job was babysitting at 10 years old! Then, in high school, I worked at our local ice cream stand. Both kid-focused jobs, just like now!