When Kathy Knobloch was just 15 years old, she started working as a nursing assistant in a long-term care facility. Soon thereafter, she followed in her mother’s footsteps to become an LPN in Ohio, where she grew up. “For 20 years, I worked as an LPN, but I thought often about going back to school to become a nurse,” says Kathy. As her three children grew older, she finally decided to take the leap and enrolled at Stark State College of Technology in Canton. She graduated from the associate degree of nursing program in 1994—the same year her oldest daughter graduated high school.
Rehabilitation and postoperative care
In 1994, Kathy joined Doctors Hospital, which has the second largest osteopathic medical training program in the U.S., as a charge nurse on the postoperative unit. When Doctors opened a rehabilitation unit, she transitioned into a new role there, staying with the hospital until 2000. When the hospital closed, she took a job at Aultman Health Foundation, where she continues to work today. Kathy started her career there in acute rehab and perioperative inpatient surgery.
Back to school for the BSN
In the mid-2000s, Kathy decided it was time to further her education and she enrolled in an online BSN program at Indiana Wesleyan University, graduating in 2007. On a whim, she also started teaching as an adjunct at Brown Mackie College in the practical nursing program. “I found that I really liked teaching new nurses and was starting to think about my later years in nursing, when I might not be quite as physically able to care for patients,” says Kathy. She earned an MSN, nurse education, at South University in 2009. Later, she began teaching for her alma mater, Indiana Wesleyan, both in the online and onsite RN to BSN programs.
Nursing education full time
In 2014, Aultman closed the same-day surgery center where Kathy worked and she had the opportunity to move into teaching full time as an assistant professor at the Aultman College of Nursing and Health Sciences. At the same time, Kathy decided to pursue a doctorate.
“I’d been thinking about it before I even moved to Aultman College because once I planned to become an educator, I became greatly interested in becoming the very best educator I can be,” she says. Her program director at Aultman referred her to American Sentinel University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice, Educational Leadership. “The focus on education and leadership, the structure of the program, and the curriculum were all exactly what I was looking for.” Kathy enrolled in 2014. Today, she teaches in Aultman’s associate degree program and is the clinical liaison.
Kathy’s timing to pursue a DNP was perfect, as Aultman is phasing out its Associate of Science in Nursing program by 2020 and introducing a Bachelor of Science Health Sciences in fall 2017 and an RN to MSN program in 2021. In early 2017, Kathy was promoted from assistant to associate professor. And next month, she will graduate with the DNP Educational Leadership.
“So much of what I’ve learned in the DNP has benefited me, and I’ve used those skills and knowledge in my classes that I teach,” Kathy says. “Aultman is going through a lot of change right now and the DNP has given me perspective on why we’ve made certain changes and the greater landscape of nursing education. It’s been a great experience and one I would definitely do again.”
Inspired by Kathy’s story? A DNP with a specialization in educational leadership prepares master’s-educated nurses for leadership roles in nursing education programs. When you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.
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