Credo Award

June 6, 2024

A man who wears “20 different hats,” Jonathan Kraft earns Credo Award for his dedication to pediatric patients and his colleagues

“In the OR, kids don’t have anyone except the doctors, techs and nurses taking care of them. They can’t speak for themselves. I realize the privilege and responsibility I have to those kids, and I’ve felt a lot of purpose in my role.”

Jonathan Kraft, an RN for pediatric otolaryngology, was named a Credo Award winner. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Jon Kraft, RN, a clinical service leader (CSL) in pediatric otolaryngology, describes himself as a “jack of all trades.” Assigned to the third-floor operating room at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt where ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeries take place, there is no typical day for Kraft.

As a CSL for pediatric otolaryngology, Kraft has developed a broad understanding of the diverse field while cultivating an awareness of critical steps and necessary resources to achieve the best clinical outcomes for children receiving surgical care at Monroe Carell.

“You have to wear 20 different hats to be a clinical staff leader in the OR,” said Kraft whose team includes nurses and scrub techs who take care of ENT patients in the OR. “When I come in, I have a general idea of what the day is going to look like, then when I leave, I’m like wow, I didn’t anticipate any of what happened.”

His days might include administrative work, such as looking at future surgical cases and preparing for what equipment and supplies are needed, providing IT troubleshooting, or he might occasionally be asked to scrub in for a surgery.

For his dedication to the young patients who undergo ENT surgeries and for his work ethic making sure that everyone on his team has what they need for the best possible surgical outcomes, Kraft received Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Credo Award, presented at the May virtual Leadership Assembly.

“Jon is uber organized and always prepared,” one nominator wrote. “He double and triple checks to make sure that all implants, equipment and supplies are available so that the team in the OR has everything they need for their patients,” the nominator wrote.

“In the post-COVID world, the supply chain is still struggling to catch up, so I’m frequently trying to forecast to see if we have the critical supplies and implants we need for surgery,” Kraft said. “We do a lot of preparation, making sure we have what we need before the surgery ever begins.”

One nominator wrote that when Kraft started in his current role, he created a seamless process for making sure that cochlear implants were present on the day of a surgery. “As a result, since he made these changes, there has not been a single time where a surgery had to be delayed or canceled because an implant was not available.”

“He is a true servant leader, making sure he has taken care of all the things behind the scenes that make it seamless for the OR team to provide the best care for all patients,” a nominator wrote.

Recently there was a national shortage of specialized breathing tubes that monitor nerve impulses during surgery so that surgeons can protect the child’s nerves while operating on the neck.

Kraft reached out to medical representatives across the Southeast, researched how to make the equipment work properly, and even had some fly in for surgeries to ensure the breathing tube worked properly for a young patient with thyroid cancer.

“He could easily have shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘You’re out of luck’ for so many reasons, but he pushed and pushed until he found an answer to improve the care for these young children with cancer,” a nominator wrote.

Kraft said there’s a lot of pivoting and adjusting to what happens each day. On any given day he might be scheduling two to seven operating rooms with ENT cases.

“We have urgent cases added on in the middle of the day, so we’re constantly adapting and moving around.”

Kraft said he takes a lot of personal responsibility in his job.

“In the OR, kids don’t have anyone except the doctors, techs and nurses taking care of them. They can’t speak for themselves. I realize the privilege and responsibility I have to those kids, and I’ve felt a lot of purpose in my role.”

Kraft’s wife, Candace, and children, Isaac and Abilene, were invited to a celebration with colleagues to announce the award.

“How my kids, who talk constantly, kept the secret I still do not understand,” he said. “When my kids walked in, it meant the world to me. I don’t usually get caught off guard, and I never cry in front of people, but I absolutely got choked up. A lot of people I’ve worked with for many years were in that room, and it meant a lot.”

View Jonathan Kraft’s video from Leadership Assembly.

If you are a VUMC employee, you can nominate a colleague for an Elevate Credo Award, Five Pillar Leader Award, or Team Award. Visit the Elevate website to fill out a nomination form. Employees demonstrate credo behaviors when: they make those they serve the highest priority; respect privacy and confidentiality; communicate effectively; conduct themselves professionally; have a sense of ownership; and are committed to their colleagues. Elevate award nominations are accepted year-round. If a nomination is received after the cut off for an award selection period, the nomination will be considered for the next period. VUMC VOICE will post stories on each of the award winners in the weeks following their announcement.