From the operating room to the bedside, the research lab to the school health office, nurses fulfill an integral role within Akron Children’s Hospital’s care delivery team.
“Our nurses spend so much time with our patients, monitoring them closely and reporting changes in condition and effects of treatment,” said Grace Wakulchik, president and CEO of Akron Children’s. “Importantly, they genuinely care about our patients. They treat all these kids as if they were their own.”
To support and advance the work of this important group of health care professionals, Grace made a landmark gift to establish the hospital’s first-ever endowed chair in nursing. The Grace Wakulchik Endowed Chair for Nursing will not only recognize outstanding nursing performance at Akron Children’s, it also will serve as a tool to recruit and retain talented nurse administrators and provide a stream of income to support nursing projects and programs that advance quality pediatric health care. Christine Young, MSN, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, chief of hospital-based services and chief nursing officer, has been named the inaugural chair holder.
“Nursing is a highly specialized profession that coordinates care through the process of assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementing and evaluating nursing care,” said Christine. “Our nurses provide family-centered care through both art and science – addressing the physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual needs of patients and families.”
“We are very fortunate to have a number of endowed chairs in pediatrics, surgery and research,” said Grace. “I am proud to include nursing in that honor roll.”
Valuing the ‘art and science’ of nursing
Grace began her career at Akron Children’s in 1992 as a registered nurse. In the years that followed, she held numerous nursing and leadership positions, including chief nursing officer and chief operating officer, prior to her current role.
It was upon reflection of this meaningful career that Grace decided to make her gift.
“My mother, who passed away before I finished high school, was so proud that I had chosen to become a nurse,” she said. “We didn’t have much money, so she acknowledged that she had no idea how I could accomplish this but knew that I would. The field of nursing introduced me to many amazing caregivers, many growth opportunities and many opportunities to give back to the community.”
Endowed chairs are vital to Akron Children’s. They give physicians and researchers the freedom to pursue new and innovative treatments that aren’t supported in the overall budget. This keeps the hospital and its care on the cutting edge – guiding the future of health care.
While endowed chairs in nursing are more common in universities and schools of nursing, there are very few in hospitals. It’s Grace’s desire that the new chair speaks to the hospital’s values on education, professionalism and evidence-based practice.
“My hope is that the gift will signal to all nurses interested in coming to Akron Children’s how much we value the contribution of nursing,” she said.
Moving the profession forward
“I am so honored and humbled to serve as the first chair holder,” said Christine. “It’s such a privilege to represent nursing at Akron Children’s in this way. I’m most looking forward to this as a recognition of the exemplary nursing care that is provided to the patients, families and communities that we serve.”
The Grace Wakulchik Endowed Chair for Nursing will create opportunities to advance excellence in nursing practice across the organization in all settings.
“We will be able to pursue nursing scholarships, which includes research, evidence-based practice and quality improvement,” she explained. “We also will be able to further efforts around advanced practice, professional practice, education and leadership.”
Pursuing opportunities for nursing innovation as well as efforts to support health equity and population health initiatives also will be priorities.
“Every nurse in every setting at Akron Children’s has the opportunity to access the programs and benefits that will be made available through the endowed chair,” said Christine. “I feel an incredible amount of gratitude and joy that the legacy of nursing excellence at Akron Children’s will be sustained and enculturated for many years to come – for both the present and the future generations of nurses who so proudly care for our patients and families.”