Not-as-new nurse amuses, advocates for next generation

Kati Kleber and daughter Hannah JoySo much of what Kati Kleber, BSN, RN, CCRN, says circles back to the strong start to her nursing career at Carle. And much of her good-natured guidance reaches soon-to-be, new and experienced nurses all over the country.

Kleber—Fresh RN blogger and author of books like Anatomy of a Super Nurse: The Ultimate Guide to Becoming Nursey—recently returned to caring for patients at Carle while she attends graduate school.

The timing is perfect for the Carle Nurse Residency Program graduate and advocate.

A record number of new and upcoming nursing school graduates attended last month's open house. The Carle Nurse Residency Program is a one-year, Magnet-recognized endeavor that supports and empowers new nurses to position them for careers focused on quality patient-centered care.

Like many who attend the open house, Kleber’s health advocacy started early for the self-described townie and class of 2005 Urbana High School graduate. As a student leader, she crusaded for healthier vending machine options.

“That stuff was so horrible for us. It was totally the right thing to do,” she said.

After finishing up at Parkland College, getting her BSN at Iowa Wesleyan proved to be an eye opener. The campus and the area lacked what she loved about Champaign-Urbana.

“It was a complete culture shock because it was so much less diverse. I was meeting people who had only ever seen African American people on TV. I was not anticipating that,” she said.

Kati Kleber is pursuing her master's degree in nursingAnticipating and then rolling with the punches, though, is how nurses provide such great care.

But they don’t learn that on day one. Or day 23.

“I remember how scared I was when I started at Carle. I thought should know more than I knew right out of school,” she said. “The reality is every new nurse feels like this.

“Carle’s wonderful new-graduate residency makes the transition so much easier and more rewarding.”

After a neurocritical care stint at a North Carolina hospital, Kleber is thrilled to be back in Carle’s cardiac medical-surgical area.

And Crystal Griest, BSN, RN, CMSRN, is thrilled to have her.

“I worked with Kati early in her career, and it’s great to see how she’s evolved as a nurse but that she’s still the same Kati,” Griest said. “She’s funny and quirky and upbeat no matter what kind of day she has. And she’s a really good resource and cheerleader for the newer nurses.”

Helping the next generation of nurses matters to Kleber, whether it’s on the floor or on her FreshRN podcast. She and her guests provide useful and concise information plus support.

“My passion is helping new graduate nurses transition successfully so they can provide competent care as soon as possible,” said Kleber who will be taking care of patients at the time of the open house. “Being in a teaching hospital like Carle is right for me.”

What Kleber says resonates. Fresh RN has nearly 80,000 followers on the most popular social media platforms. She appreciates their feedback and likes maintaining connections with them.

Kati and her familyEven so, Kleber makes sure she has time for more than work, especially family time.

Kleber and her husband John were high school sweethearts who married in 2010. Two-year-old Hannah Joy loves to laugh and play with their lab-mix rescue dogs Mac and Tosh.

To be a strong and smart nurse, Kleber insists, “We live our lives to care for others, so it can be challenging for us to say no, to put a focus on self-care.

“Listen to me. Advocate for yourself. No one else will do this for you.”

For more information about nursing careers at Carle, which recently received Great Place to Work honors, please visit carle.org/nursing.