So much of nursing is second nature to experienced RNs that many forget there was a time when they didn’t know what they now take for granted. And that’s too bad, says Kati Kleber. She has six years of bedside experience under her belt, but she’s determined to remember what it was like those first few months when all of nursing was new and frightening. Her mission—which is evident in her blogs, social media feeds and her book, Becoming Nursey—is to offer advice and tips to help newbies shorten the learning curve so they can better care for their patients, which in turn ups the odds of better patient outcomes. “For most new grads, it takes at least a year and a half before they feel comfortable and confident at the bedside,” says Kleber, a 28-year-old critical-care nurse in Charlotte, North Carolina. “When you’re dealing with people’s lives, that’s way too long.”
The nitty-gritty of nursing gets plenty of attention from Kleber, with here’s-what-you-do-when advice (for instance, 46 steps on charting), but she also deals with the big issues that every nurse has to face, such as how to walk the line between empathy and emotional overload. Her essay “I Wish I Could Cry With You, But I Can’t,” about the need to “disconnect the dots” from the emotional body blow that a patient’s family member experiences when a loved one dies, elicited about 300 comments on her blog. “I’d say about 75 percent were positive,” says Kleber. “Nurses can identify with what I was writing, especially nurses in critical care and hospice.” The other 25 percent? “They said I’m a heartless nurse who can’t cry.”
As expected with a blog titled Nurse Eye Roll, Kleber balances the deadly serious with the downright silly (and we mean that in a good way), or, as she calls it, “nursey shenanigans.”
Her postings—serious and silly—have struck a chord with nurses. Between social media and her blog, Kleber now has an audience of 35,000 followers. Pretty impressive for someone who just started blogging two years ago. Now she’s embarked on another sideline career as a speaker.
So how does she juggle her roles as blogger, social media star, critical-care nurse, speaker, wife and mother (not necessarily in that order)? Great organizational skills help, says Kleber, plus a healthy perspective about what’s important in life and, of course, some time for nursey shenanigans.