What’s the easiest part of CNP Sarah Harris’ job? Playing with kids, of course! Lucky for her, she spends her days doing exactly that as Akron Children’s newest certified nurse practitioner in our NeuroDevelopmental Science Center. A big part of a child’s neurologic exam involves observing children play and interact with their surroundings. And, the best part is when I can garner a smile or giggle out of them in the process, she said.
Sarah’s area of expertise is on neurological conditions, including epilepsy, migraines and traumatic brain injuries. In her role, she cares for these children and teens who are admitted to the hospital, as well as those in the outpatient clinic to monitor their progress after discharge. Her goal is to provide patient families with a seamless transition (and familiar face) from hospital to home, while serving as a valuable resource to answer questions and make ongoing adjustments to their plans of care.
For Sarah, working here is a dream-come-true. As a teen, she was admitted to Akron Children’s with a critical illness. Being on the receiving end of “the highest quality compassionate care,” she said, “I’ve dedicated my career to paying it forward by offering the same for my patients.”
Describe your role at Akron Children’s and what you hope to accomplish.
I am a pediatric nurse practitioner in the NeuroDevelopmental Science Center. My role involves caring for patients admitted to the hospital with neurological diagnoses. I also see these patients in our outpatient clinic for follow-up to closely monitor their progress after discharge.
I hope to provide our patients a seamless transition from hospital admission to discharge and beyond. Hospitalization for any reason can be very stressful for children and their families. It’s my goal to serve not only as a familiar face from admission to discharge, but also as a resource to answer questions and make ongoing adjustments to their plans of care.
What is your area of expertise and why did you choose it?
The NeuroDevelopmental Science Center provides care for children of all ages with a variety of neurological or developmental disorders. My specific area of focus is on neurological conditions, such as epilepsy, migraines and traumatic brain injuries.
I worked in the NeuroDevelopmental Science Center as part of the epilepsy team for more than 3 years as a registered nurse, while completing my master’s degree. I truly enjoyed the patient population, as well as the unique challenges and blessings that they brought every day. When I became a nurse practitioner, it was clear to me that I wanted to continue my career in neurology.
How does your personality fit your role?
I have a “type A” personality. I think this works to my advantage since a systematic approach and attention to detail is so important in neurology. I also hope that I can serve as a calm and steady guide for families that are in a stressful situation.
How do you deal with the emotional impact of being a provider?
I try my best not to bring work home with me. This is easier said than done, however, especially when you build a strong relationship with patients and families. I’m able to get my mind off the stressors of work by staying busy, whether it’s a walk with the dog or a night out with friends.
What does success mean to you?
Success is difficult to quantify, especially in medicine. I know that not all of my patients will get better. My goal is to provide high-quality medical care and build trusting relationships with my patients and families.
Who makes up your family, including pets and their names?
My family includes my husband, Christopher, and our one-year-old Goldendoodle puppy, Finnegan (AKA Finn, Finny, Finn Dog).
What is your favorite vacation spot and why?
My favorite vacation thus far was a trip out West last summer. My husband and I, along with a group of friends, traveled throughout Nevada, Utah and Arizona. We hiked through Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, and ended with a few days on a houseboat floating across Lake Mohave. The scenery was incredible and time off the grid always helps put everything into perspective.
What’s your favorite holiday?
Thanksgiving is definitely my favorite holiday! I love the food and sitting around the table with family.
What are the small things that make your day better?
After a busy or stressful morning, an afternoon cup of coffee can completely turn my day around and put me in a good mood!
What skill would you like to master?
My husband and I recently bought our first home and we’re currently in the DIY phase of newly wed bliss. We’ve spent the past few months renovating the house and wishing we were as skilled as Chip and Joanna Gaines from “Fixer Upper.” I’d love to become handier with home projects, or at least have the skills to patch a hole in the drywall without calling my dad for help!