Who are you and where do you practice?
My name is Kathleen Ruping. I am the Administrative Director of Liver Transplant at the Center for Advanced Liver Diseases and Transplantation in Newark, New Jersey.
What made you decide to become a nurse?
As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a nurse. Helping people to feel better has been in my blood since I was a young girl.
What do you find most rewarding about being a nurse?
Helping people improve their health. Helping them to become more engaged with their health status.
What is the one thing you wish more people knew/understood about being a nurse?
I want them to know that I never wanted to be a doctor. So often nurses are asked if we couldn’t get into medical school. We are not "just a nurse."
How has the role of the nurse changed (if it has) in your career?
It has changed over the 37 years that I have been a nurse. Nurses are colleagues with the physicians, not handmaidens to them. Nurses' skill sets have increased. They have specialized areas of interest, like transplant, emergency room, etc.
What or who inspired you to focus your practice on patients with liver disease?
I was inspired by Nikolaos Pyrsopoulos, MD, the medical director of my department. He introduced the world of liver disease to me and taught me just how important the liver is to good health. We met 13 years ago when we started a liver transplant program in Florida.
What are some of the challenges facing nurses today? How do you think these issues can be addressed?
Challenges nurses face vary as to where they work. If you are a hospital-based nurse, the challenge is short staffing. It isn’t just that we don’t have enough nurses, but that nurses are pulled in several directions and they don’t really have time to take care of and get to know their patients. They are busy making sure they can pass surveys when they take place in their hospital.
How to handle these issues? Maybe it is time to go back to basics. LPNs and nursing assistants played an important role in patient care. RNs were able to oversee the care and take care of the sickest patients themselves.
When you’re not caring for patients, what do you like to do?
I love to spend as much time as I can with my children and grandchildren. No matter what the day brings, seeing them brings me back to center.