Every year, the March of Dimes, an organization that focuses on preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality, honors nurses from across Ohio at its annual Nurse of the Year awards ceremony. This state-wide event recognizes exceptional nurses, creates awareness of professional excellence, and promotes the future of nursing as a profession.
Nurses can be nominated by peers, nurse managers, supervisors or even the families they have impacted. The selection committee reviews nominations from healthcare facilities throughout Ohio in 18 defined categories ranging from Case Management to Education & Research. This year Akron Children’s was honored to have 17 finalists with Tami Cieplinski, RN, BSN, headache program coordinator in the NeuroDevelopmental Science Center (NDSC), chosen as the committee’s pick in the ambulatory care category.
Tami was nominated by her supervisor, Dan Strunk, clinical operations supervisor of the NDSC, who recognized Tami for the education, patient advocacy and interdepartmental teamwork she promotes every day.
“Tami is the type of teammate who makes you want to be on her team,” he said. “There are few individuals who can unify diverse people with unique talents around a common, patient-centered goal. When those rare people come along, and do just that, great things happen.”
Tami started working at Akron Children’s in 2006 as an admitting clerk and as a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurse tech while completing her nursing education. After graduating, she transitioned to a float nurse.
“I am unbelievably honored and humbled to receive this award,” Tami said. “This is truly a testament and honor to the commitment of my team to provide the best services and care to our patients every day. Many of the highlighted accomplishments in my nomination were achieved in conjunction with members of my team.”
While in college Tami always knew she wanted to work with kids and originally planned to become an elementary school teacher, but quickly realized it wasn’t the field for her.
“I had friends who were going to nursing school and I always thought ‘why in the world would anyone want to do that as a job?’” she joked.
After working in the customer service field for a few years and starting a family, Tami had the realization that nursing was something she might enjoy.
“It was like I woke up one day and knew it was what I was meant to do.,” she said. “I have always called that my ‘God’ moment where suddenly I knew I was meant to be a nurse, even though I never had considered it. By the end of that day I had looked into options, signed up to take an entrance exam in 2 days and informed my husband that I was going back to school to be a nurse.”
Tami says her favorite part of the job is interacting with patients and families.
“Meeting the needs of the patient, providing comfort and developing relationships with them is the most rewarding part of my job,” she said. “Even if it’s a bad or chaotic day, when I’m able to spend time with my patients I leave the room feeling happy and energetic.”
Tami is a member of the American Headache Society, the International Headache Society and currently is in school pursuing a master’s in nursing.
“I’m blessed to have a career I love, to work with a team and patients I love, and to be at Akron Children’s where the culture is like nowhere else,” she said. “It’s easy to be successful when you receive encouragement and support from every level of your organization. There is no other place like Children’s and you feel it as soon as you walk in the doors. Even with all of our growth, you can still feel it. I would not want to work anywhere else.”