Meet the Nurse Behind Nurse Eye Roll: Kati Kleber

How long have you been a nurse and what areas of nursing did you or do you currently work in? I’ve been a nurse for 5 years.  I worked on a cardiovascular and thoracic surgical stepdown for 2 years and have been in neuro ICU for the past three years. 

You have a blog called Nurse eye roll – What makes your eyes roll the most and what are your biggest concerns about nursing?

What makes my eyes roll the most is when I urgently have to start multiple drips and the IV pump doesn’t work. My biggest concerns for nursing is the shortage coming up coupled with hospitals trying to keep their budgets as lean as possible.  I am also highly concerned about RN-MD relationships.  I think there is really inconsistent expectations and communication from both parties.  Many physicians don’t fully understand what nurses can do with their license and also how they actually care for their patients, and understand little about the training to becoming a nurse, which is vastly different from what they experience.  Many issues and mistakes occur because of breaks in communication and I think if residents were required to shadow nurses for a certain amount of time during their residency, it would have a profoundly positive effect on how they practice.

What do you love most about nursing?  I get a lot of joy out of helping people when they cannot help themselves.  Being there to support people during a really difficult time in their life is very special to me and I love being able to provided that support.

What throws you off balance and how do you know you are out of balance?  I get anxious easier and irritated quicker.  I also make poor decisions about eating and my time management when I’m not taking these steps. 

What brings you back into balance?  I like to consistently work out, do yoga, walk my dogs, spend quality time with close friends and family, and time one-on-one with my husband. 

Tell me your most unusual or interesting story as a nurse.  I’ve had so many of these – and the best ones are actually in the book!  I have done and seen quite a few odd and interesting things.  I’ve taken maggots out of someone’s foot, I’ve done a wet to dry dressing in which my entire hand was in a man’s chest cavity, I’ve held a patient’s head while a neurosurgeon drills into their brain, and I’ve defibrillated someone and they immediately threw up on me.  I could go on for days..

Tell me about your most favorite nursing job and why.  Well, I have only had two bedside nursing jobs.  My favorite of the two is definitely the neuro ICU.  I love critical care, old people, and neuro.  It’s my ideal nursey niche.  However, I love writing about nursing almost as much as the job itself.  

Each interview I do, I ask nurses to give advice to new graduates your case, I can direct new grads to your blog that offers a lot of support to new grads Nurse Eye Roll as well as your book Becoming Nursey. Could you offer a few key helpful points for new nurses in this post?

My main helpful points for new grads are:

1.  Be honest about what you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ask questions and get clarification about things.

2.  Take care of yourself – don’t pick up a bunch of overtime that first year while you’re trying to get your nursey feet wet.  That gets really overwhelming really quickly and you don’t have enough time to really learn and absorb information.  Get rest on your days off, work out, eat healthy, do non-nursing things.

3.  You’ll be task oriented in the beginning, which is expected.  Your critical thinking skills will get better with time.  Once you master skills, you’ll become more efficient and tasks will take less and less time to complete, and then you’ll start to pick up on things you didn’t before. It’s a process of nursey growth – don’t get discouraged!

Conference time! We don't know what we don't know.

I spent the past week in San Diego at NTI, a nursing conference put on by The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. I was inspired and renewed surrounded by 8,000 nurses attending the conference. The speakers were dynamic and presented topics ranging from pharmacology, sepsis and evidenced based practices to health care reform and healthy work environments.

Just a few of the 8,000 nurses at NTI

Just a few of the 8,000 nurses at NTI

I was joined by a coworker and met some former colleagues. The hardest job I ever loved was working in the Intensive Care Unit of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The staff was incredibly cohesive, supportive, professional and on top of their game. I left that position to move out West as a traveling nurse. Who would have guessed that Tamiesha, a traveling nurse from Baltimore put down roots in the very same unit at Sloan-Kettering and introduced herself to me at happy hour? Although we never worked along side each other, I felt a camaraderie with her as if we were from the same family of sorts. We had so much fun comparing notes on the cast of characters and our paths of our careers.

Tamiesha and I connecting at happy hour

Tamiesha and I connecting at happy hour

I also had the opportunity to connect with people who I had previously only known through social media, such as Katie Kleber from Nurse Eye Roll. Did you know that 30% of new nurses leave their job within the first year? That was one of many interesting factoids I learned in San Diego. Katie has done a great job supporting new nurses with her blog and her book Becoming Nursey. Stay tuned for a future post with my interview with Nurse Eye Roll.

This coming week I will be attending a High Risk-Obstetric Conference conveniently located in San Francisco. I’m looking forward to spending time with my coworkers and immersing myself in my specialty. If you have never been to a conference, I would encourage you to put one on your calendar this year or next year. I’ve been to NTI through AACN, ONS (oncology), AANN (neuro), Medical-Surgical Nursing Conference in San Francisco and Symposia Medicus. Ask your clinical nurse specialist for a recommendation or rally your coworkers to join you. It can light a spark if you are feeling a little stale or burned out. It also allows you the opportunity to compare your protocols with hospitals across the country, see new trends and you might even be inspired to do a poster presentation or speak at a breakout session. Someone told me they got a new job while waiting in line for the ladies room! So if your resume can’t progress beyond the recruiter, pack up some resumes and check out a nursing conference.