Megan Foster is always on the move. Maybe it’s because of her ADHD or maybe it’s because her passion for life runs deep. But whatever the reason, on her days off you can find her busy completing remodeling projects with her husband on their 1920s home or on the Towpath training for a marathon. Her goal is to run in the entire Great Lakes Marathon Series, which includes 23 races, by age 50.
So, it’s only fitting that in her professional career her pace doesn’t slow down either as Akron Children’s newest certified nurse practitioner in our Emergency Department (ED). Whether it’s a head injury, COVID-19, broken bone, swallowed toy, severe asthma attack or any other acute-care scenario, she’s quick to help kids feel better and empower them to grow into their healthiest and best versions of themselves.
After all, she’ll tell you Emergency Medicine has her heart.
“Every single time I slide open that heavy glass door into one of our ED exam rooms and meet my newest patient,” she said, “I feel a squeeze of joy in my heart.”
Why did you choose to come to Akron Children’s Hospital?
I would have to say that Akron Children’s Hospital chose me! Though I love kids, I never considered specializing in pediatrics while I was in school. The other students I knew going into pediatrics were so focused on that goal, that I assumed I would never get into such a competitive field if I wasn’t as committed as them.
Fortunately, Akron Children’s was the first place to call me for an interview after I graduated, and I could not have been more blessed to start my nursing career at such a special place. I had teachers, mentors and managers that saw more potential in me than I saw in myself in those early days. They encouraged me to join committees, contribute ideas and opinions, and continue my education. I know I would be nowhere close to where I am today if it had not been for the way I was warmly welcomed into this family from day one.
Describe your role at Akron Children’s and what you hope to accomplish?
I am so blessed to have landed in what I never knew was always my dream job. I am a certified nurse practitioner in the Emergency Department. I work alongside our other amazing ED advanced practice providers and physicians to provide the best care for the full range of patients that arrive in our ED every day.
What is your area of expertise and why did you choose it?
Emergency Medicine has my heart. We are open and available 24/7 to help with any medical or mental health crisis that our patients and families face. Whether it’s a large crisis or just feels large to them, we are equipped with the amazing staff and resources they need to help them find answers and empower them along their way to recovery.
What do you like most about being a provider?
Every single time I slide open the heavy glass door into one of our ED exam rooms and meet my newest patient, I feel a squeeze of joy in my heart. I think kids are incredible. They are resilient, but also feel things deeply. They are tough, but when they are sick they don’t hide it. They can be so serious, yet they make me laugh every day.
I love that kids need someone on their side fighting for them and helping them grow into the healthiest and best versions of themselves. I love that we get to come alongside parents and help them do that for their children and that when kids don’t have that person in their lives, that we get to help stand in that gap until we can help find them someone who will.
What impression do you hope to leave with your patients each day?
I hope kids know they are capable. A huge part of our role in the ED is education and empowerment. There are very few things that we can totally fix before the child heads home again. Viruses have to run their course, infections need to be fought, sprains need to be iced and elevated, and brains need time and protection to recover from concussions.
We rely so much on parents or on our older patients to continue the care at home, and also to know when they might need help again. We couldn’t provide the care we do for our patients if someone was not there to recognize that they needed help, and was capable of taking care of them when they go home again.
How do you deal with the emotional impact of being a provider?
From my very first job at Akron Children’s as a nurse on our inpatient infant and toddler unit, I was met face first with cases of children coming from very difficult and devastating situations. I always found comfort in the fact that our role in these children’s lives is to be someone different; someone who provides care, comfort and safety. We get to be the ones that help and advocate for a better life for them. But as long as there is suffering in the world, it will always remain a challenge.
There are traumas I was a part of while I was a nurse in the ED that will stick with me forever. This is the great burden and privilege of being a care provider; to be right there with families in some of the most critically altering moments of their lives.
What excites you most about medicine?
That there are so many amazing things we have been able to learn about, and yet so much we still do not know. I heard one of my favorite ED providers, Dr. Emily McFerren, say once, “Humility goes a long way in medicine. The human body is complex.” I feel so blessed that I will get to spend my entire career learning more about the capacity and function of the human body. I find it endlessly fascinating.
What would you most like to change about healthcare today?
I would change the disparities we see in healthcare when it comes to different racial groups. It is true that not all children in our country are given the same opportunities, but what we as a community need to address is that African-American children in our health system are more likely to die from SIDS, have poor well-child care as they grow, are more likely to have an appendicitis rupture due to delay of care, and are more likely to have adverse outcomes associated with chronic illness, including ICU admissions for asthma.
Whatever the factors and variables that contribute to the disparities we see, I do believe we have an ethical responsibility when it comes to fighting for equally improved health outcomes for all children.
What does success mean to you?
I think success means being able to share knowledge and innovation. The capacity we have to help people through sharing of scientific knowledge is exponential. The more providers we help educate, the better care to more people each of them will be able to provide. We are going to make progress in being able to care for one another by sharing with one another.
I know I am always blown away by the accessibility we have today to medical research and education through online articles, podcasts and virtual conferences. Hopefully one day, I will be able to participate in research that can exponentially benefit others, as well.
Who makes up your family, including pets and their names?
My family includes myself, my husband, Andrew, and our rescue coonhound, Tuesday. Andrew and I have been married for 8 years. He is a Parkour coach and route setter at a rock-climbing gym. In many ways, he is the strongest person I know. We love to go backpacking together, and we have been able to explore the trails at many of our amazing National Parks.
What is one thing you haven’t done yet that you would like to achieve?
I have run 5 half-marathons and one full. I have a goal to run the entire Great Lakes Marathon Series, which consists of 23 full marathons all around the Great Lakes, including the Niagara Falls Marathon and several trail marathons in Northern Michigan, by the time I turn 50.
What’s one thing on your bucket list?
I would love to go backpacking in Croatia.
What do you do when you aren’t working?
I can usually be found running on the Towpath, hiking with Tuesday in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park or at a yoga class.
My favorite hobby is working on construction projects. I am not very good at it and often get in over my head, but I love learning new things, working hard and making something old beautiful again. My husband and I are working on remodeling the exterior of our 1920s house, so I put in a lot of time scraping, sanding and painting on my days off!
What are your favorite podcasts, books, movies or TV shows?
I have ADHD (Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder), so my best way to get projects done around the house is by listening to podcasts and books on tape. I think I would have Bluetooth headphones permanently implanted if I could. I am so motivated by listening to music, stories and spoken word poetry.
The podcasts I keep up with the most regularly are Ear Biscuits, 99% Invisible, Radiolab, Other People’s Problems, The Road Back to You, The Birth Hour and Criminal. I get unnerved pretty easily by true crime stories, so I mostly avoid that whole genre.
What’s your favorite holiday?
I love all the fresh-start holidays: New Year’s Day, the first day of Spring and especially, Easter Sunday.