Chris Young’s happiest place on Earth may be the iconic Walt Disney World (she’s been there 10 times!), but Akron Children’s Hospital comes in a very close second. And just like Disney, Chris is committed to continuously improving and creating a great experience. In fact, when she joined the hospital in 2012 as the director of neonatal services, she led our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in the transition from three units to the single patient room model of care we have today.
Chris assumed her current role as chief of hospital-based services and chief nursing officer (CNO) in 2017. She is certified as a Nurse Executive-Advanced through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). She represents the CNO constituency on the Commission on Accreditation for the Practice Transition Program through the ANCC. She is a board member of the Ohio Organization of Nurse Executives and the Girls Scouts of Northeast Ohio. In 2017, she was the recipient of the March of Dimes Excellence in NICU Leadership Award.
Tell us about your background, schooling and role on ELT.
I have been a nurse since 1993. I graduated with my BSN from Ursuline College and obtained my MSN and MBA from the University of Phoenix in 2007. I am currently an Ohio State Buckeye, enrolled in the DNP Nurse Executive program, with planned graduation in 2022.
I worked in labor and delivery and maternity nursing before l came to Akron Children’s. I have held a variety of nursing leadership roles for 20 years, including charge nurse, assistant head nurse, nurse manager, director of nursing and now CNO.
My role on ELT is to provide a nursing and clinical perspective on decision-making at the executive level. I also propose and advocate for new or enhanced programs that improve the quality of patient care, patient/family experience and the work environment for employees.
Tell us a little about your role as Chief of Hospital-Based Services and Chief Nursing Officer.
There are two aspects to my role. As chief of hospital-based services, I am responsible for the coordination of patient care services of specific departments across the region that are primarily hospital-based. These include the inpatient units, emergency services, critical care services, surgical services, respiratory care, transport, school health, home care and hospital-based provider administration. I am also responsible for communicating and incorporating the goals and objectives of the hospital into the daily decision making for the patient services areas.
As CNO, I help foster exemplary nursing practice and a healthy work environment for nurses in all settings. I am also responsible for advocating and advancing nursing professional practice and nursing research across the organization.
What do you like about working at Akron Children’s?
I love working here because I am inspired every day. There are so many amazing stories of hope and examples of how our employees go above and beyond for their patients, families and each other. At Akron Children’s, we really are a family. Everything we do is focused on our shared mission and upholding the 3 promises. I also like that we are never satisfied with the status quo. We are always looking for ways to improve our practices and processes. I appreciate the incredible opportunities for professional development and growth, and how the organization invests in the people who work here.
Why is employee engagement important to you?
Evidence shows that engaged employees contribute to optimal patient and family outcomes. We spend so much time at work; the environment should be supportive and healthy for employees to allow them to be the very best they can be.
If you didn’t work in health care leadership, what would your dream job be?
I would be a tour guide at Walt Disney World. I would enjoy helping families experience the magic and fun of Disney!
Tell us about your family.
My husband, also named Chris, and I have been married for 32 years. We are the proud parents of four adult daughters, Rachel, Olivia, Abby and Sarah. Our youngest daughter, Sarah, just turned 21 which means we survived raising four teenage girls! We live in Mayfield Heights and have two dogs, Oliver and Bella, who are both 14 years old and have the run of the house. We have a very close extended family, including our parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, and we all live within a few miles of each other. I am thankful we have such close connections because family is very important to me.
How do you relax?
The ultimate relaxation for me happens when we go on our annual beach vacation to the Outer Banks every summer. There is nothing more relaxing that sitting on the sand, listening to the waves and if you’re lucky, catching a glimpse of a dolphin swimming by.
Recently, I’ve become interested in feeding and watching the birds in my backyard. It started with a general feeder which attracted cardinals, blue jays, robins and other birds. I added feeders specifically for finches and hummingbirds. It is peaceful and relaxing to watch them while enjoying the outdoors on a beautiful day.
Most interesting place you’ve been and why?
I was able to travel to Europe with one of my daughters a couple years ago. We toured Italy, France and the United Kingdom. We saw so many amazing and interesting places in Rome, Venice, Paris and London. One of my favorites was Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The history and beauty of the cathedral was breathtaking. I am grateful I was able to visit before the tragic fire.
My all-time favorite place to vacation is Disney. We have been to Walt Disney World at least 10 times. We’ve also been on a Disney cruise, and to Disneyland in both California and Paris. We celebrated New Year’s Eve at Walt Disney World this past year. For us, Disney provides magic and joy and an opportunity to disconnect and be a kid at heart!
What was your first paying job?
As a teen I worked at DryClean USA as a customer service attendant. It was a great way to learn people skills, including conflict resolution (especially when we were unable to remove a stain from the customer’s item).
What would you change about yourself if you could?
I would like to be more comfortable with public speaking. Although it is outside my comfort zone, it’s a skill I have been trying to develop.
Do you have a favorite quote or mantra you live by?
‘Find Joy’ is the mantra I live by. There are so many stressors and challenges in our world right now. I think it’s important to intentionally seek out and appreciate the things that bring you joy. I keep a ‘bucket of joy’ in my office, and it holds items like meaningful cards and notes from patients and colleagues. I also look for opportunities to provide a moment of joy to others. This is one of the ways I focus on self-care to maintain a positive attitude and outlook.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
Prior to becoming a nurse, I worked as a research associate investigating breast cancer drugs. My first bachelor’s degree is in biology. I had planned to go to medical school but then decided that nursing was the right career for me.