Kent State University College of Nursing Associate Professor and Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner master’s concentration coordinator Ann Ancona, Ph.D., APRN, CPNP-PC, CNE, has been teaching for 18 years. She enjoys getting to know her students and helping them succeed. Initially drawn to pediatrics because she wanted to work with children, Ancona has seen first-hand how resilient her young patients are all while keeping their great sense of humor. Today she shares some of her experiences in the field, along with some encouragement for nurses who are considering pediatrics as a specialty.

Q: Hello Ann! We are so pleased to have you with us today. As the Pediatric Primary Care NP coordinator, can you share which courses do you teach, along with some of the benefits of your program?

A: Thank you for having me. I’m excited to share more about this concentration program and my personal nursing experience. This program is comprehensive and prepares students to work as primary care pediatric nurse practitioners. Many of our students pass the national certification exam, typically on the first attempt, with a pass rate of about 94%. I teach in both the pediatric nurse practitioner and nurse educator courses.

Q: How can students in this program be successful?

A: Have a plan for each semester. Read the syllabus and refer to it as often as needed. Keep up with reading assignments; these can easily get ahead of you. If there’s something you don’t understand or need clarification on, don’t be afraid to ask questions. 

Q: What is one thing you hope your students always remember from your classes? 

A: I hope they always remember the importance of critical thinking as a PNP student and future PNP.  Along with the importance of taking time for yourself. That may seem impossible when the courses are rigorous, but you should remember to schedule some time every day to unwind and reflect. Self-care is never a waste of time, and you will feel better having done so.

Q: You bring up a great point. Nursing is a demanding field. What do you like to do to unwind and relax? 

A: I enjoy swimming laps or reading. My advice is to look for non-nursing-related activities that fill you up mentally and emotionally.

Q: That is some great advice! Going back to our students in the PNP program, what types of career paths will they have to choose from once they have graduated? 

A: Graduates from the PNP program typically go on to accept positions in an outpatient pediatric primary care setting caring for well children, those with acute illnesses as well as those with chronic illnesses.

Q: Do you have any advice for new nurses working in pediatrics? 

A: Enjoy the children and their families. Listen closely to what they are saying and equally as close to what they are not saying. Pediatric patients can teach you things you didn’t even know you needed to learn.

Q: That’s wonderful. What would you say to brand new nurses just entering the workforce? 

A: Working as a bedside nurse is a great experience and teaches more than what can be learned from a classroom or textbook. Always remember that there is an art to nursing. The science of nursing gets top billing, but the art is incredibly important particularly if you work with children and their families.

Q: Thank you, Ann. Before we end our time together today, would you mind sharing a bit about your nursing career and experiences?

A: Of course, I’d love to share! I was fortunate to work at Akron Children’s Hospital with colleagues who were supportive personally and professionally. Work was challenging, but also rewarding and enjoyable.

One of the most memorable moments from my career was caring for a three-year-old patient with a serious diagnosis. I saw her again as a teenager and later as a high school graduate. Her mother remembered every nurse who had cared for her daughter, and all those years later, was still incredibly thankful.