Telling Our Stories: Kati Kleber, BSN, RN, CCRN
Since communication is such an integral part of any nurse’s experience, it’s hard to believe that so many in the profession take it for granted. But nurses must get better at telling their stories, reaching out to others outside their profession and educating those in their own professional community.
So says Kati Kleber, the 30-something nurse, author, podcaster, speaker and blogger. With nearly 90,000 online followers, Kati’s nursing platform has become an online destination for nurses everywhere, particularly new nurses. Kati has created a website, blog, podcast, and written books to help support new nurses during that tough transition from graduate nurse to confident bedside nurse. She has been featured on “The Dr. Oz Show,” US News & World Report, CNN, the “Today Show” and more. Kati is also a published author with the American Nurses Association.
“Social media is such a valuable tool,” Kati says. “We can teach, encourage, inspire, inform and relate to people on platforms that people are already looking at many times a day.”
Kati, a former neurocritical care nurse and now a cardiac med-surg nurse in Urbana, Illinois, has become something of a fixture on nursing social media sites such as Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as at nursing conferences, where she frequently appears, speaking about and signing any one of her five published books.
“People trust what nurses have to say,” she says. “So when a nurse posts something to Twitter or Facebook about the various chemicals in sunblock, or how canned tomatoes contain BPA, or that dietary consumption of cholesterol is no longer linked to poor outcomes, people listen.”
Kati understands the necessity of staying current in her field. She received her CCRN certification in 2015 and is now pursuing her Master’s of Science in Nursing Education. She says she loves to talk shop and interact with her fellow nurses and physician colleagues, especially online. A sense of obligation to her online audience drives her to stay informed about nursing and healthcare. She says her favorite articles are published in AACN’s Critical Care Nurse, as well as the American Journal of Critical Care.
“I follow various people that I believe are reputable and share valuable information. I like the Centers for Disease Control, Harvard and Stanford Health, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo, STAT News, the American Nurses Association and, of course, AACN.
“Nursing and research changes so frequently,” she says, “and it’s essential that you’re aware of the newest and best practices around the country so you can bring that to your bedside, STAT! We don’t need to wait a year to go to another conference to hear what the top hospitals are doing; we can do that by reading articles, the monthly publications and email updates. I especially appreciate the updates regarding legislation, because when we nurses talk in Washington — people listen! This is evident in the many events which occurred this past year regarding the Affordable Care Act.”
Her First Love
Though Kati’s skill with words has created new opportunities for her in the world of social media, it is her first love — nursing — that stirs her soul. In fact, she says she fell into social media almost by accident after becoming frustrated with not finding sufficient information about being a young nurse. She wrote her book in large part to share her experiences and guide young nurses through their nursing journey.
And like any other young nurses, Kati has had her share of misfires. In fact, she says that being a young nurse means “a lot of being wrong, getting corrected and being told how to handle things differently.”
Yet she gets a lot of satisfaction from educating and supporting her patients and their families, and feels personal and professional satisfaction when she can help someone do something they can’t do themselves.
“I really love empowering people to do the best they can for themselves after a life-altering event,” she says. “I love supporting them emotionally, physically and spiritually.”
Kati also enjoys working on her team.
“My unit works really well together, and we have a great rapport with our team of physicians,” she says. “I love working with them to take really good care of people. Frequently, a former patient and family come up to the unit to thank us for the care we gave them during one of the darkest times in their life, and I cry every time. It means a lot to me to help people out during a tough time.”
She is also mindful about keeping her career in perspective.
“You have to take each day one at a time and not let those tough days break your spirit,” she says. “It’s hard not to take things personally or let it make you really upset, but if you do the best you can with what you know, that is all anyone can ask of you. It’s important to take responsibility for that and stand up for yourself, but also not to take on burdens that are not yours to carry.”
Kati also says it’s important for young nurses to use their time to absorb lessons from the more-experienced nurses they work with. Yet, she firmly believes that all nurses can learn from each another.
“Everyone brings their own gifts to the unit,” she says. “Some people are good at procedures, some good at policy, some good at crucial conversations, some good at educating, etc. The most successful nurses can handle criticism and allow it to make themselves better nurses, are team players, and respectful and appreciative of what everyone brings to the table. A unit full of people like that provides outstanding, safe and optimum patient care — even if resources are tight.”
Like most other nurses, Kati is sometimes overwhelmed by the day-to-day requirements of her job. That’s why she feels it’s essential to use her time off to restore herself. What does she do?
“My first day is spent in recovery mode,” she says, laughing. “I sleep in, eat a big breakfast, read my Bible and have some quiet time with the Lord, then go do some yoga and work out. I typically catch up on things I missed on social media, write a blog post or two and do my grocery shopping and laundry.”
Kati is also grateful that her husband’s schedule enables them to spend time together during the week. They try to take full advantage of it — spending time together at the dog park, going out to dinner (her favorite food is “a really, really good burger and an ice-cold craft beer”) or staying home to play cards or some other game.
“We also love to spend time with friends or family,” she says. “So we typically have some hangout time scheduled with some buds.”
The couple recently relocated to Illinois from North Carolina with their daughter to be closer to family.
Words to Live By
The life of a busy nurse-blogger presents numerous challenges and can sometimes seem overwhelming. Yet, Kati manages the demands and attention with aplomb. Asked if she has a creed that she tries to live by, and which helps her through the rough times, Kati says people should simply strive to do their best every day.
“Just do the best you can with what you’ve been given every single day — that is all anyone can expect of you,” she says. “When things don’t go well, step back from the situation, learn what you can from it and move on. Allow failures to make yourself better, approach success humbly and always be thankful for what you have.”
And what are the things that make life worthwhile for Kati?
“There are a few,” she says. “Like when a person stops you mid-nursing-shift chaos and tells you that you are a good nurse and doing what you’re meant to do. When someone says they can see the love of God in the care that you provided for them. And when you bust your butt all day and don’t really think you’ve done anything special, and all the family members of a dying patient come to you in tears to tell you that they’re so thankful for the care you gave their family member.
“That will never, ever get old,” she says, “no matter how many years I work as a nurse. Never.”