Saving Lives and Giving Back with a Nursing Degree

Posted by on Wed, Jul 16, 2014

Kathy Getchel, MSN, RN, moved into a director position at her hospital after she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from Kaplan University. Now she is able to make a difference in the lives of her patients, staff, and nursing students. 

[Learn more about Kaplan’s nursing degree programs.]


Kathy Getchel dreamed of being a nurse from the time she was in third grade. “The reason I wanted to be a nurse was to take care of people,” Getchel explains. After graduating high school, she completed a diploma of nursing program and went straight into a nursing career in critical care.

Her role as a nurse gave her great satisfaction. “Giving back to the community makes you feel like you’ve enriched your environment,”she describes. But she admits that although the work is rewarding, the long hours and hard work are tough. “I’ve been working nights now for many, many years,” she says. To advance her career while continuing to give back to her community, Getchel needed a nursing degree.

“To stand out today, you really need advanced education,” explains Getchel. “You see that across the board now in job postings,” she says. She also wanted to be the first person in her family to earn a degree. “I wanted to be someone in my family to actually set an example,” she says, “not only for my past family members but for my own son.”


Getchel enrolled in the RN-to-BSN program at Kaplan University and then continued to earn her master’s degree in nursing with a specialization in nursing education. “In an online setting,” she says of her education, “you’re able to interact with faculty from across the country and realize their vast experience and education.” These instructors are also practicing nurses, which gave an additional level of authenticity to her studies. “Learning from an instructor that’s in the field of nursing and practicing in health care provides real-life experience,” she says.

The real-world connection made an immediate impact on Getchel’s day-to-day job. “I was able to take that knowledge I learned and apply it in the workplace,” says Getchel. Her nursing degrees enabled Getchel to advance to the position she is in today.

[A nursing career is as versatile as your little black dress.]


“To get where I am took a lot of hard work and education,” says Getchel. With her educational background, Getchel earned the position of Director of Perioperative Services at Waterbury Hospital. In her new role, she oversees outpatient surgery, post-anesthesia care, and the operating room.

“Higher education for Kathy has given her growth,” says her supervisor Ann Marie Thomas, “and contributes every day to her being able to do her job as a director.”

Getchel continues to make a positive impact through her profession. “What I love most about my job,”  she says now, “is interacting with my patients and my staff and making a difference. When I know that I made some positive changes in my patients’ lives, or with my staff, it really makes my day.” She and her family have also enjoyed the Monday through Friday schedule that her management position allows.

Getchel is also motivated to give back to the nursing community. She has joined the staff at Kaplan as an adjunct professor, passing on her knowledge to incoming nursing students. She emphasizes the importance of education in the nursing field. Students “want better hours and … better paying jobs,” Getchel says, “and through Kaplan and their education, they can obtain those goals.”

The rewards of Getchel’s career in nursing have only multiplied with advancement.  “There’s nothing better than to save a patient’s life,” she says, “and to know that I had a part in it is an extremely rewarding experience.”


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