How I Got Started in Nursing

by | Jun 29, 2021 | Podcasts | 0 comments

This podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, PlayerFM, iHeartRadio, Libsyn, Spotify, and Amazon Music.

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Who You’ll Hear

Kati Kleber, MSN RN– Nurse educator, former cardiac med-surg/stepdown and neurocritical care nurse, author, and speaker.

How I Got Started in Nursing PIN

What You’ll Learn

  • How I got started in nursing
  • Why I switched from ICU to Med-Surg
  • My nursing career

How I Got Started in Nursing Show Notes

  • Right out of high school, I thought I wanted to be an elementary education teacher
    • Went to a large state school ($12K/semester!)
    • Never did any job shadowing, got into the classes and found out it wasn’t for me because I realized what the day to day as a teacher truly looked like
  • Moved to a community college and starting nursing pre-req’s
    • Wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a nurse, but classes sounded cool
    • $4K/semester (at that time) – went there for 3 full semesters + summer school
    • Liked it better because the professors taught classes, not TA’s
    • Joined the Women’s Basketball Team for my 2nd/3rd semesters
    • Academic All-American, had my scholarship cover tuition and just had to cover room and board
    • Transferred to Iowa Wesleyan College for a BSN; played basketball for one year (partial scholarship)
    • Approx. $25K/year, was there 3 years with various scholarships and grants, took out a loan
  • Tried to make myself more marketable
    • Did an internship between junior and senior year at the hospital I hoped to work at after graduation
    • Volunteer work at another local hospital in their Emergency Department; got great letters of recommendation
    • Completed senior year preceptorship in a small rural emergency department (8 beds) and asked two of the physicians there to write letters of recommendation for me as well
  • Started in a cardiac med-surg/step-down type unit
    • Worked there for 2 years
    • Completed residency program
    • Enjoyed it but wanted more of a challenge after about two years
  • Moved to Charlotte, NC, interviewed for a stroke patient floor job
    • The patient ratio was 14 to 2 nurses – in my mind the interview was over at that point
    • The manager wanted to hire me for her neurocritical care unit instead
  • Worked Neuro ICU
    • Worked there for 4 years
    • Very challenging, but rewarding
    • Got my CCRN in 2015, went to conferences, sat on committees (shared governance)
  • About this time my blog started to take off, had my first child
  • After four years, decided to move back home to raise kids near their grandparents
  • Applied to work at the same hospital I started my career at
    • About 400 beds
    • Could either work in the ICU, which took children at that time, the CVICU, or back on my old unit
    • Was back in school to get my MSN in Nursing Education online
    • Decided to work PRN (once/week) back on my old unit so I could focus on my MSN while getting acclimated, and spend time at home rather than learning new skills to only work 1 day/week
  • Differences between ICU and Med-Surg
    • Went through orientation again
      • Nurses with less experience than me were precepting me
      • Interesting experience, but they were great
      • Different perspective working with nurses 2-3 years into career, versus myself at 8-9 years in – saw they struggled with the same things I did
    • Struggled with time management the most
      • Extended my orientation by a few weeks because I was simply too detailed (typical for ICU) to get everything done on 4-5 patients
      • Complicated discharges were challenging
      • Different kind of chaos from the ICU – but just as overwhelming
    • Had a brand new appreciation for students because I had the knowledge and mental space to teach them, which I didn’t have at the beginning of my career + I felt comfortable with not knowing an answer
  • Worked there PRN for 2 years
    • Had my second child and did not go back after maternity leave
    • I decided to focus on FreshRN full time
  • At the end of the day: It is your career and your life
    • You have to do what is best for you both professionally and personally



Picture of Kati Kleber, founder of FRESHRN

Hi, I’m Kati.

Kati Kleber, MSN RN is a nurse educator, author, national speaker, host of the FreshRN® Podcast, and owner of FreshRN® – an online platform created to educate, encourage, and motivate newly licensed nurses in innovative ways.

Connect with her on YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, and sign-up for her free email newsletter for new nurses.


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