Q & A With Kat Schaper, CNA, LPN


Kat Schaper, CNA, LPN

Kat Schaper, CNA, LPN

Kat Schaper is a CNA and LPN who works as a nurse and research coordinator for a cosmetic surgery office in Chicago, IL. She graduated from Northern Illinois University and has been a nurse for over eight years. In this interview, Kat shares lessons she’s learned from her own career in hopes of helping other aspiring nurses find their own career path.

We had the pleasure of chatting with Kat about how her nursing career has evolved over the years with some great advice for prospective students or even current healthcare professionals who desire to further their education and qualifications.

  1. You’re now an LPN, but you started your career as a CNA. Is earning your certified nursing assistant licensure typically the first step when looking to enter the nursing profession?
  2. Where do you currently work? Can you talk about your key responsibilities?
  3. Tell us about your educational background. Where did you study to become a CNA and when did you decide you wanted to become an LPN?
  4. What did you like best about being a CNA?
  5. What did you like the least about being a CNA?
  6. What are the most important skills or personality traits a CNA should have?
  7. What does an average workday look like for a CNA?
  8. What are the most common misconceptions about nursing compared to the actual career?
  9. What is one piece of advice you would give a nursing assistant student, just starting out in the field?
  10. How do you see the nursing profession changing over the next 10 years?

1. You’re now an LPN, but you started your career as a CNA. Is earning your certified nursing assistant license typically the first step when looking to enter the nursing profession?

Earning your CNA license is the best way to lay a solid foundation of nursing skills. It is an excellent start to develop critical thinking skills as well as getting necessary hands-on experience.

2. Where do you currently work? Can you talk about your key responsibilities?

I currently work for a Plastic Surgeon and have a wide variety of responsibilities. On any given day I can do anything from assisting in the operating room to educating patients about their surgical care. I am also the lead research coordinator for an FDA study sponsored by a leading pharmaceutical company.

3. Tell us about your educational background. Where did you study to become a CNA and when did you decide you wanted to become an LPN?

I completed my CNA course through my local community college while I was still in High School. I was able to work in a hospital while I was enrolled in LPN school. I decided that I wanted to be a nurse while I was completing my CNA program.

4. What did you like best about being a CNA?

What I liked most about being a CNA was having the opportunity to get hands-on experience. Working in the field with nurses gave me the opportunity to learn what it was really like to be a nurse. I felt like I had a large advantage during nursing school because I had already been exposed to many of the skills that were being taught.

5. What did you like least about being a CNA?

I worked as a CNA in a hospital and adjusting to working on your feet for 8 hours at a time took some getting used to.

6. What are the most important skills or personality traits a CNA should have?

Strong organizational and critical thinking skills are very important. A CNA should also have a strong desire to care for others.

7. What does an average workday look like for a CNA?

A CNA workday is varied depending on what type of facility they are employed at. Typically it is centered around assisting a patient with their daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and exercise. They may also be responsible for taking vital signs as well as assisting the nurses and doctors with various procedures. CNAs are also frequently employed at doctors offices, so they may also have front desk responsibilities like answering phones and scheduling patients.

8. What are the most common misconceptions about nursing compared to the actual career?

The top three misconceptions are:

  1. Nurses are all women. Yes, women do outnumber men in this field, but the male population is increasing every year. It is estimated that about 6-9 percent of all nurses are men.
  2. Nurses are people that couldn’t get into medical school. Completely false. Nursing is a conscious career choice that requires large amounts of education and skill. It is an excellent decision for those who want to work in the medical field and have a vast amount of flexibility for the duration of their career.
  3. Nurses work hard and don’t get paid well. Also not true. The average salary for a nurse in 2008 was $62,500.

9. What is one piece of advice you would give a nursing assistant student, just starting out in the field?

Ask questions! Many of the nurses that you will be working with will be happy to explain procedures and pass on valuable knowledge that you cannot learn from a textbook.

10. How do you see the nursing profession changing over the next 10 years?

I think that there will be an increase in the demand for advanced degrees in nursing. Job availability for Nurse Practitioners and CRNAs increases every year.

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