Q&A with Kristin Vierling

photo of St. Luke's staff
Kristin Vierling surrounded by her colleagues at the Washington University Center for Hearing and Balance Disorders at St. Luke's Hospital, front row from left: Jacques Herzog, MD, Allison Schwed, and Elizabeth Tainter; back row from left; Kara Bowman, Tara Bommarito, Kevin Zhan, MD, Vierling, Carolyn Bequette, Susan Rathgeb, Kaylyn Bacich and Lydia Kraus.

As senior director of clinical operations at the Center for Hearing and Balance Disorders, Kristin Vierling touches many lives – patients, surgeons, office and medical staff, and trainees. Her knowledge of neurotology and skill at building interpersonal relationships are central to the success of the clinic.

How long have you been working with Jacques Herzog, MD, and what did you do prior to that?

photo of Vierling in operating room
Vierling in the operating room with Jacques Herzog, MD, and Amanda Ortmann, PhD.

I graduated from the nursing program at Villanova University in Philadelphia in 1995 and my first nursing job was at Christian Hospital on the neuro/ortho floor as the evening charge nurse. I then moved to the operating room, first with neurosurgery and then as the ENT resource nurse and relief charge nurse. I have worked at many hospitals in the St. Louis area since then, including now St Luke’s. I have worked with Dr. Herzog for 20 years as clinic manager and OR nurse. I also serve as the neurotology fellowship coordinator and work closely with the current fellow in the clinic and OR. I am also heavily involved with planning the new ambulatory surgery center, scheduled to open next summer. 

“While I’m unsure which of her many titles best describes her, I do feel incredibly lucky for her generosity and that she’s such a big part of my career. “

Kevin Zhan, MD, neurotology fellow

 What do you like most about your work here?

I enjoy everyone I work and collaborate with. This includes everyone – the amazing team here at St. Luke’s as well as everyone at our many locations. Supervisors and staff, nurses and doctors, and residents and fellows are all outstanding.

photo of the Vierling family
The Vierling family hits the beach, from left: Kristin, daughters Emma and Eva, and husband Jeff.

Is there a particular highlight to your career or an event that stands out?

I truly value being a positive role model for others in the medical and nursing field. One young acoustic neuroma patient we cared for decided to switch careers and go to nursing school. She told me that I inspired her to go to nursing school, and she is now an OR nurse here at St Luke’s. And, our own Tara Bommarito, who started working in Dr. Herzog’s clinic out of high school as our receptionist, recently completed her BSN and credits me with being her mentor. 

“Kristin is a leader, counselor, mother, nurse, educator, and more! She is always willing to help and encourages each of us to grow in our lives professionally and personally.

Tara Bommarito, pre-certification coordinator

What influenced you to become a nurse?

I helped take care of my grandma who was sick and living with us when I was young and that definitely impacted my decision-making process when choosing nursing school.

 What spare time activity brings you the most joy?  

photo of Vierling with daughters
Vierling on New Year’s Eve in Turks and Caicos with daughters Eva and Emma.

Spending time with my husband and two daughters Eva and Emma who are 16 and 12. This does not however, include spending time driving with Eva (my newly licensed driver). 

 What is your favorite indulgence?

  • Netflix and HBO series are favorite indulgences, however I have never seen an episode of Game of Thrones!!!  I just finished watching the Succession season three finale.
  • Starbucks frappuccinos!
  • Not having to cook (I detest it)!!!

What would most surprise your colleagues to learn about you?

I operate with all of the neurotologists and fellows, but I know ear anatomy best upside down because my view in the microscope is 180 degrees different than what they see. Our neurotology fellows are always surprised by my extensive involvement and knowledge of the neurotology program. 

I also grew up downhill skiing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

“In one of my first surgeries with Kristin, I asked for a specific instrument, and she gave me something different. I quickly realized that the instrument she gave me was actually the one I wanted and needed!”

Nedim Durakovic, MD, assistant professor of otolaryngology