In high school, Ashley Hess, pediatric nurse practitioner in Akron Children’s Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology, participated in Aultman Hospital’s Career Academy. The program exposed high school seniors to jobs in the medical field and consisted of shadowing clinicians and classroom work. Ashley enjoyed working in Aultman’s inpatient pediatric and neonatal intensive care units so much, that she decided to become a nurse practitioner, taking advantage of as many experiences as possible to learn about the healthcare field.
As an undergraduate nursing student, Ashley completed her nursing pediatric clinicals and research with Akron Children’s Summer Pediatric Research Scholars (SPRS) program. The program paired her with mentors to work on research projects and observe bedside patient care. But it was a medical mission trip to Ghana in Africa that solidified her decision to work as a nurse helping others.
Ashley, who was a first-year nursing student at The University of Akron at the time, used her recently acquired skills in diabetic education, wound care and hypertensive screening to help people with limited or no access to healthcare. The experience of traveling without family, going overseas and helping less fortunate people boosted her confidence. It also helped her focus on all the differences, small and large, that she can make in a patient’s life, which she now uses in her diabetes and endocrinology practice.
Why did you choose to come to Akron Children’s Hospital?
During my experiences in Aultman’s Career Academy and Children’s SPRS program, I felt as if caring for babies and kids was a perfect fit for me. Not only were the people so nice, but everything was designed and created with kids in mind. After graduating with a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing, Children’s hired me. I loved being a nurse here and was able to stay on after earning my master’s in nursing and completing the national certification exam.
What is your area of expertise and why did you choose it?
Previously, I worked as a staff nurse at Akron Children’s at Aultman Hospital where I also floated to various inpatient floors at main campus. I then transitioned to the NeuroDevelopmental Science Center, working as a staff nurse. These roles exposed me to various diagnoses and age groups and helped me gain experience in inpatient and outpatient settings. In the Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology, I help patients along their journey from diagnosis to management of their endocrine disorder. The endocrine system can affect a range of organs in the body; it’s not necessarily organ specific. We care for patients with diabetes, thyroid disorders, growth problems, early/delayed puberty, ovarian and testicular dysfunction, adrenal disorders, etc.
What do you like most about being a provider?
I like the autonomy in my role, being a key player in decision making and working alongside the patient and their family to decide on the best course of treatment.
What impression do you hope to leave with your patients each day?
My hope is to have relationships with my patients built on caring about their best interests, so that they feel well-taken care of above and beyond what they expected.
What’s the best part of your day?
Making someone smile. You never know what others are going through and this small act can make a difference in someone’s day.
What achievements are you most proud of?
I’m proud to have been the commencement speaker representing my nursing class at our undergraduate graduation ceremony. I also feel proud to have obtained a master’s of nursing degree while working full time and maintaining a 4.0 grade point average.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in North Canton, Ohio. My husband, Dan, and I now live about five minutes from the house where I grew up.
What do you do when you aren’t working?
I enjoy being outside, especially when the sun shines. I like to go on walks and play catch or another backyard activity with my husband. I like swimming in my parents’ pool, spending time with family and friends or shopping with my mom, which is my favorite stress relief!
What is your favorite vacation spot and why?
The beach. I love the sun, sand and swimming in the ocean. It’s the most fun, relaxing place to be in the world.
What’s the last adventure you went on?
In December, I was finally able to enjoy a family beach vacation in Cancun, Mexico after rescheduling it for several years due to COVID-19.
What piece of advice did someone give you when you were young that still resonates with you today?
My mom’s advice: “Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today because you never know what tomorrow will bring.”