I work in the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics (DDBP), caring for children and young adults in the DDBP Clinic and the Center for Spina Bifida Care. The patient and family are integral parts of the healthcare team. I like to provide a supportive environment and give my patients options and a sense of control wherever possible, basing treatment recommendations on the best available evidence. Their input and goals are invaluable to developing an individualized care plan to optimize their quality of life. Even a tiny change in a treatment regimen can have an incredible impact on the patient and their family.
At age four, I knew I wanted to be a pediatric healthcare provider. My desire to work with children stems from my mother's work as an elementary teacher, where I helped in her classroom for many years. She focused on child development, instruction and literacy, sharing much of her specialized knowledge with me. I was also exposed to various healthcare roles. My father was an emergency medical technician (EMT) intermediate, my grandfather was a medic in the military, my brother was a state-tested nursing assistant (STNA), and my grandmother and great-grandmother were nurses.
Neuroscience and neurodevelopmental conditions have fascinated me since my third-grade science fair project on scent and memories. Due to health challenges in my family, I initially went in a different direction with my education and career. I studied international affairs (political science, history and language) and earned a minor in Latin American studies. I studied abroad in Puebla, Mexico and completed a certificate in international human rights. Then I worked in public service for about four years at an embassy, a governor's office and a United States senate office. Those experiences gave me a unique understanding of healthcare policy, advocacy and community needs.
I developed a strong interest in health disparities and healthcare access. The example set by my nurse practitioners, and the health-related situations that friends were experiencing, prompted me to leave government service and switch to a more direct role in healthcare as a nurse.
In nursing school, I participated in a medical brigade to work on global development and provide mobile health clinics in rural areas of the Dominican Republic. It was an incredible blend of my interests in healthcare, language and helping people, combined with my experience in public service. Seeing the impact of nurse practitioners inspired me to become a family nurse practitioner (FNP), able to serve people of all ages and provide better continuity of care.
My career started at Cincinnati Children's as a volunteer with Child Life in urgent care. I worked as a patient care assistant (PCA) and later as a registered nurse (RN) in the neuroscience / trauma inpatient unit. Many of my patients on the unit were children and young adults with autism, Down syndrome, neural tube defects (like spina bifida) and other neurodevelopmental conditions. Caring for these patients and their families for 8 to12 hours a day, sometimes for long-term hospitalization, has given me a richer understanding of their day-to-day lives and made me a better care provider.
I grew up in an economically disadvantaged area of Appalachian Ohio and had some health conditions that required specialized care. As a result, I understand the challenges patients and families can face — fearing new tests and procedures, needing to travel for treatments and being concerned about affording that care. I learned firsthand that it’s helpful if a caregiver is compassionate and mindful of these experiences. I try to embody the qualities I appreciate most from my colleagues and my family's healthcare providers.
I participated in a practicum in advocacy and represented my university at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), focusing on international women's issues and advocating for others. I also completed the Cultural Competence Champions Program here at Cincinnati Children's, designed to support the delivery of culturally competent healthcare.
During my free time, I enjoy hanging out with my husband, our daughter, our families and pets — two cats and two dogs. I also like reading, trying new foods, being outside (gardening, camping and hiking) and learning languages. I know some Spanish, Arabic and Farsi.