For sub-specialty practices in high demand, making access easier for patients is a priority. That’s why ENT has been relying on its four advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) – Melissa Archer, Jenna Berryhill, Amanda Feierabend and Jennifer Melesky to help streamline the department’s overall care process and patient flow. This model of care allows the department’s physicians to devote more time to surgeries and ensures patients in need of ENT care are seen quicker.
Amanda says it’s a privilege for the APPs to collaborate and support the department’s physicians.
“They work all hours of the day and night when they’re on call on top of doing sometimes 15 surgeries a day or seeing 36 patients in clinic,” she said. “We get the easy and often fun counterpart of their job.”
Typically, each nurse practitioner (NP) spends two days in the outpatient clinic for routine ENT care and procedures. The other two days they round on inpatients, see new consults, and handle messages or calls from parents.
Jenna Berryhill, who’s been working in ENT for about a year, enjoys the balance of working with both inpatients and outpatients. Having previously worked in the NICU, her interest in ENT was sparked when she was a primary nurse to a NICU patient who had a tracheostomy. Now, she regularly works with tracheostomy patients.
“We split our time between inpatient and outpatient since there are four of us to rotate inpatient coverage,” said Jenna. “In clinic I see up to 30 patients a day. On inpatient days, the number of patients we round on depends on how many consults we have. We typically have around 10 trach patients who are inpatient that we round on weekly.”
Although she’s worked for Akron Children’s for 18 years, Melissa also didn’t join ENT until last year.
“Prior to Jenna and I joining ENT, Amanda and Jennifer were the only 2 APRNs covering ENT,” she said. “They worked tirelessly around the clock, always working extra days and over their budgeted hours, constantly going above and beyond.”
Having become very close to her colleagues, Melissa enjoys their tight bond both personally and professionally.
“We all have a very similar work ethic and care deeply about our patients and our work family,” she said.
Amanda served as ENT’s sole NP from 2012 to 2018, and now she’s relishing the growth of the department.
“I went from being all alone for years to now having an incredible team. I can’t say enough about each person’s various talents, traits and skills,” she said. “The trust and respect between the four of us is something I’m grateful for.”
Amanda has seen her role evolve from performing frenotomies on infants with breastfeeding difficulties to seeing more complex patients in clinic.
“In babies with stridor we perform flexible laryngoscope in the office and collaborate a bit with our pulmonology colleagues to see our trach patients in clinic,” she said.
Jennifer, who has worked in ENT for five years, spent much of last year covering inpatient service.
“You would frequently see me out on the unit seeing consults and discharging patients,” she said. “When I’m in clinic, I see patients for ear infections and enlarged tonsils as well as same day/same week appointments for things like ear and nasal foreign body removal. I also participate in a multidisciplinary craniofacial clinic in plastic surgery.”
All the women agree that with the variety of patients, different environments and crossover with other departments, ENT is unlike any other area in the hospital.
“ENT serves patients with common everyday problems that impact almost every child at some point during childhood, but we also get to serve a portion of critically ill and complex patients,” said Melissa.
Best of all, they all agree, is the opportunity to work with kids.
“The pediatric population is so much fun to work with,” said Jennifer. “They’re so resilient, innocent and have such a bright outlook on life.”
“The majority of our clinic population is preschool/toddler age and I just love how goofy you get to be with these kids. They’re just so magical and we get to live in that land perpetually,” added Amanda. “I think we all feel so fortunate to be in this role.”