Katie Hooven Transforms Nursing Education One Step At A Time

For as long as she can remember, Katie Hooven, MSN, RN, MBA, CAPA, wanted to be a nurse.  She volunteered every summer during high school at St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton and was inspired by her Aunt Pam, a 30-year veteran nurse and director of ambulatory surgery, who encouraged her to put her education first and let her path follow.

After receiving her BSN in 2006, Katie worked as a staff nurse for two years when she decided to return to school.   “My Aunt really remained my motivator,” Katie recalls. “It was never ‘are’ you going to get your MSN’, it was always ‘when.’”  Katie thought she might be interested in the business side of nursing, perhaps as a hospital administrator or a career in medical device sales.  She set her sights on getting her MSN and an MBA while continuing to work at St. Mary’s Hospital in Langhorne, Pennsylvania.  There, in addition to being a staff nurse, she mentored student nurses and acted as a nurse preceptor.

When a chance opening arose at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) School of Nursing for a clinical coordinator, Katie decided to see what it would be like on the other side of the classroom. “I never thought about going into academia,” says Katie, “but because I had completed my Masters, the opportunity was open to me.”  It’s a lesson learned that Katie imparts to her students today. “I tell them not to be afraid to advance their education before they need or even know how they will use it – just keep it in your back pocket and the opportunities will come.”

As clinical coordinator at TCNJ, Katie teaches a professional role development course in TCNJ’s off-site RN-BSN program.  She is also responsible for contracts, placement of nursing students, and grants.  She is currently a member of one of three teams that facilitates a State Implementation Program Grant (SIP) provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, along with matching funds from a majority of Magnet hospitals in the state.  The grant was awarded to the New Jersey Action Coalition to support the work of one of the key recommendations of the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing report; to increase the percentage of baccalaureate nurses to 80% by 2020.  The teams are working on the creation of seamless models for academic progression using the Nurse of the Future Core Competencies©.  Katie’s team was one of three funded to bring together diploma, AD and BSN. Her team was the first to bring people together to begin to build a BSN progression curriculum plan that would assist nursing students currently enrolled in a diploma/Associate Degree program to acquire their BSN with no wasted credit or time.

Photo: Katie Hooven, center, with Hunterdon Medical Center nurses enrolled in The College of New Jersey’s off site RN-BSN program.

“This has been such an exciting program of collaboration,” says Katie. “We are all working together, helping to make a better future for all nurses.  I really love it.” So much so it seems that Katie has finally found her own nursing path as a nurse leader and educator.  She is currently enrolled in the PhD program for nursing education at Villanova.  She plans to do her dissertation on clinical education and hopes to become a full-time faculty member.


Throughout her journey, Katie has learned a lot about the benefits and need for academic progression and shares her experiences with her students:

  •  Don’t leave it to someone else to fix; use your skills and knowledge to make a difference – no matter how big or small.
  • The hardest part about going back to school is submitting the application. Just do it.
  • Take advantage of tuition reimbursement opportunities.
  • You don’t have to know where you are going before you get your education. Committing to your education opens many doors.
  • Think of the big picture – take it one step at a time and keep moving!

We’d like to hear your story! If you have a story to share that is relevant to the Institute of Medicine’s, Future of Nursing recommendations and the work of the NJ Action Coalition, contact us here.


Photo: Katie makes sure to save time to ride her horse, Penny, for relaxation therapy.



by New Jersey Action Coalition | May 1, 2014

Tags: education, leadership, new-jersey

Angela Teixeira

This was a wonderful story to hear. As a nursing student it’s great to hear advice from nurses how they got to where they are. It’s inspiring to hear advice on how to be a great nurse and future your education. I have my BS in chemistry/biochemistry but really wanted to do nursing. I went back to school suffering through the loans and desperately asking for financial aid to hopefully eventually get my BSN/RN. I think it is very inspiring to hear how Katie helped to guide other RN’s gain their BSN and nurses to further their education. My sister is currently an RN but is going back to school to get her BSN, and it can be difficult but it is so rewarding too. I myself would like to future my education after I have more experience. I appreciate hearing about Katie’s story and advice.
Posted on: June 23, 2014, 9:00 am

Mais Attyeh

My name is Mais and I am part of the ABSN program at Rutgers University School of Nursing. I am joined by many others in my class who, just like Katie, have been inspired by people close to us to pursue further education. It is so encouraging to read her story, experiences, and achievements. I often wonder if I should try to work immediately after graduation and I have also contemplated going for my master’s degree while working as well. However, I never thought about mentoring students or acting as a nurse preceptor like Katie. I am glad to have read this post as it has opened my eyes to potential opportunities. I also think it is wonderful that of the 20 states receiving grants from the State Implementation Program (SIP), one of them is New Jersey ("RWJF: $1.5 million in new grants to help transform health care through nursing," 2013)! Katie’s involvement in this program and initiating a plan to assist diploma and associate degree nursing students in acquiring a BSN is truly motivating. The program is said to be a “vehicle for nurses at all levels” to “improve care for patients and families” and it is no wonder that she would be a part of that team to help progress such a cause ("RWJF: $1.5 million in new grants to help transform health care through nursing," 2013). I will keep her involvements in mind as well as the great advice she has provided! References: RWJF: $1.5 million in new grants to help transform health care through nursing. (2013, December 4). Retrieved June 26, 2014, from http://www.rwjf.org/en/about-rwjf/newsroom/newsroom-content/2013/12/robert-wood-johnson-foundation-announces--1-5-million-in-new-gra.html
Posted on: June 26, 2014, 7:20 pm

Amy Heuer

My name is Amy, and I’m currently working on my BSN at Rutgers School of Nursing. It’s so inspiring to hear Katie’s story, as I too, am currently grappling with the question of when to go back to school. The nurses in my family, like Katie’s aunt, have always encouraged me to go back to school after earning my BSN. However, I haven’t decided what area of nursing I want to work in yet, so the idea of immediately going back to school sometimes seems premature. Many of my professors and clinical instructors have also emphasized the importance of getting experience in the workplace before going back to school (though they too, always emphasize the importance of eventually attaining an advanced nursing degree). Hearing about Katie’s journey offers another perspective, which I really appreciate! The idea of earning a MSN or PhD to increase the opportunities available to me, even if I’m not sure of what those opportunities consist of at the moment, makes a lot of sense. Moreover, as someone who is interested in nursing education, Katie’s work in creating pathways for diploma/Associate degree nursing students to pursue their BSN is really exciting. I never cease to be surprised at how many career pathways are open to nurses and it’s amazing to read about how much Katie has accomplished since graduating in 2006.
Posted on: July 6, 2014, 7:50 am

Mirron Gaskin

Hello, my name is Mirron and I am a Nursing student at Rutgers University School of Nursing. In contrast from Katie I had never thought of nursing as a potential profession to pursue. I went to school for Business Administration-Management, I wanted to be a business woman involved in the fast pace business world of NYC. Following graduation I started working at a hospital where I saw exceptional care and how instrumental nurses were in the care and recovery of their patients and I immediately knew that this was the career for me. It’s great that Katie had such a wonderful person in her life pushing her through and hearing her story motivates me to keep pushing through. I think it’s phenomenal that she is giving people a chance to better themselves, this will in turn lead to stronger more qualified nurses in the field equipped to provide exceptional care. For some, finances discourage the pursuit of higher education but programs like this allow for progression. Taking it one step at a time is the motto that has been getting me through school and I think it’s a great motto for life. I've always went back and forth on whether or not to pursue a degree beyond my Bachelors, but hearing Katie’s story makes me entertain the thought a little more. Thanks for sharing and good luck on becoming a full time faculty member Katie.
Posted on: July 6, 2014, 9:13 pm

Kaitlin Rose

This article was such an interesting read. As a nursing student, I find myself wondering what should come next after I graduate and begin working. Like Katie, I also know that it is not "if" I go back to school but more a question of when I will pursue a graduate degree in a particular field of nursing. What I found so interesting about Katie’s story was how her career really evolved and the different path she ending up taking compared to the current pathways I am exposed to while in nursing school. I feel that the DNP programs are frequently mentioned to us during our baccalaureate education, but I other avenues, such as the one Katie has pursued in this story, and are not addressed. I believe that it would be highly beneficial to our baccalaureate-nursing students to provide them with more information regarding the avenues they can take post graduation. For instance, a career fair may also consider bringing in nurses who work in higher level nursing management positions to come in and discuss their academic credentials and how they were able to move from the bedside to the management side. These fairs could also consider utilizing their own academic faculty to discuss their qualifications and how they arrived at their present positions. Something that I’ve come very used to hearing while in nursing school is people telling me that there is so much I can do with my degree and so many avenues I can take after graduation, but after months of experience I am still unsure of what these opportunities actually are and how I should direct my graduate work to pursue specific avenues. I feel that Katie’s story was a great example of a different avenue a nurse can take after graduation and I enjoy how she included her specific educational qualifications that helped lead her to where she is today. I hope Katie continues to share her story in the nursing community!
Posted on: July 7, 2014, 2:52 pm

Meghan Lloyd

This was a very inspiring story to read. I am currently enrolled in a second degree accelerated nursing program at Rutgers University and Katie’s views towards academic progression provides me encouragement to continue my education once I acquire my BSN. Not only is nursing a great career to pursue, but it is one that provides endless opportunities for growth not only in the field as a nurse, but also academically as a student and leader. For some, acquiring their BSN may be the end of their academic journey, however for me, it is only the beginning. Although I may not know exactly where I want my education to take me, Katie’s words of advice give me the confidence to know that it is all right to commit to my education without a definitive goal. Doors will open and opportunities will guide me to where I am meant to end up as a health care professional. The uncertainty and apprehension of not knowing exactly how far I want my education to take me, and will not, stop me from pursuing it. Thank you for sharing this story and hopefully it provides others with the same impact it has given me.
Posted on: July 7, 2014, 4:44 pm

Jennifer Tam

I am so grateful that I read this story. Katie's narrative has shown me that all I need is the motivation get an advanced degree. I do not have to know exactly where I want to be because the advanced degree will open many opportunities for me to grow and develop as a nurse. My professors, clinical instructors, and the nurses I have encountered throughout this nursing program have echoed that same school of thought. I am amazed by all of Katie's achievements since graduating from school in 2006. I think what Katie is doing to help others attain higher education shows how passionate she is about the nursing profession. Like many other baccalaureate nursing students, I, too, have been contemplating with the idea of whether or not I want to go back to school and if I do, when to go back. Like Katie, I have always been encouraged by my family to pursue higher education after obtaining by BSN degree. Many people have also told me that I should go back to school immediately after graduation because I currently have minimal responsibilities and I should do everything I want to do before life becomes more complicated. However, a few obstacles in my decision is that fact that I will be in some financial debt after I graduate from the Rutger's ABSN program and I am not 100% sure of the area that I want to concentrate in, even with months of clinical rotations in various sites. I think it would be a little impulsive to automatically go back to school without any direction or a way to finance that education. While I believe that I will eventually go back for that advanced degree, I think having some experience in the workplace would help me figure out which path I want to go before committing to a decision. I also believe that the knowledge gained from being a staff nurse is irreplaceable. There are just some things that one can learn from being on the floor that school cannot teach. This profession offers a variety of places to work in and each place has its own challenges. I know that this career path will never have a dull moment and it is a career that is continuously evolving to provide better healthcare. I am excited to start working as a nurse in a few months and I look forward to reading about more of Katie's accomplishments. Thank you for sharing your story!
Posted on: July 8, 2014, 6:13 pm

Melissa Del Mauro

This story about Katie was inspiring, encouraging, and has provided the impetus I need to become further motivated in pursuing an advanced degree in the future. I am currently in the Accelerated Nursing Program at Rutgers University School of Nursing, and already have been ruminating on where my academic journey will soon lead me. With only a handful of months left in the program, I am apprehensive, yet excited, about entering the “real world of nursing.” There is a certain comfort to being labeled a student, but what I love so much about this field is that everyday is an opportunity to further one’s knowledge and to learn about so many unique and varied aspects of nursing care. The reason I decided to become a nurse is because there are so many opportunities and avenues for advancement in this career, and like Katie, I know it is not a question of “will I” continue on, but “when will I?” I want the requisite skills and experiences that will be afforded to me in the capacity of a nurse before I decide where to go on next, but it is heartening to come to the realization that my opportunities are not merely relegated to the clinical setting. Academia wasn’t on my radar until I read this article, and has given me a lot to think about in regards to career advancement. Katie’s mottos are also important to remember as I continue on. Having gone through the admission process for more than one Bachelor’s degree, I can attest to the statement that sometimes the worst part is just filling out the applications! I love the advice of trying to remember the “big picture” and to take it all one step at a time. Right now, I am on the precipice of step one and cannot wait to see what awaits me. I am excited to continue on this journey and see where the future takes me. One day, I too, hope to share a story similar to Katie’s and wish to make an impact as she has.
Posted on: July 12, 2014, 10:22 am

Laura Velli

I am a second degree nursing student at Rutgers University. I found Katie Hoover’s story and ethos to be quite inspiring and am so glad I was able to read it on campaignforaction.org. Katie has accomplished a great deal at such a young age. She has earned her BSN and two masters degrees. She has also been successful at implementing bridge programs from diploma graduates to attain their BSNs. What especially resonated with me is that Katie has given back. After advancing her own career and education, Katie lead a team that helped engineer a grant program for RNs to earn their BSNs. Katie’s work truly demonstrates nurses helping nurses. I also admire her message that knowledge is power and a BSN affords one so many opportunities. It is no secret that the far reaching and multitudinous opportunities nursing holds is why so many people choose nursing and labor over their degree to call themselves BSNs. The fact nursing will allow me to direct my own career is one of the main reasons I am so proud and grateful to be entering this field. Katie takes the potentials a BSN offers one step further by clarifying when one earns an MSN one has even more options. This was a great story and I hope other students and nurses are inspired to take the initiative in advancing their education. I plan to pursue a DNP in psychiatric nursing immediately upon graduating from my ABSN program in December. Katie’s story and her wise words make me even more certain this is the right path, despite its sacrifices and obstacles.
Posted on: July 12, 2014, 6:03 pm

Danielle Villone

As a current BSN student set to graduate in December from Rutgers School of Nursing, I found Katie's story to be quite motivational. I already hold a bachelor's degree in psychology, and decided a few years ago to pursue a career in nursing. I have grown up in an environment surrounded by people such as my parents who stressed the fact that school and education are life long processes. I value learning new things everyday both inside and outside of the classroom, so I never contemplated for a second going back to school for another degree. Before starting this program at Rutgers, I knew one day I would go on and obtain a higher degree in nursing. Originally I had thought after working a few years as a nurse I would apply for an MSN program and work my way towards becoming a nurse practitioner. As of recent, I have questioned my future goal of becoming a nurse practitioner. mostly because I saw the many other opportunities available to nurses. After going through the nursing program at Rutgers I have come to appreciate some of the excellent professors and clinical instructors we have. This has inspired me to consider other future career choices such as obtaining a masters degree in order to become a clinical nurse leader and/or clinical instructor in hopes to impact the educational experience of future nurses and nursing students. Although I may not know now exactly where I would like to be in ten years in regards to my nursing career, I can say that just like Katie, continuing my education as nurse is not an option. It is something necessary for me to better myself and those around me.
Posted on: July 14, 2014, 1:17 pm

Arianne Ferguson

My name is Arianne Ferguson and I am currently obtaining my second degree as a nursing student in the accelerated nursing program at Rutgers University. Unlike Katie, becoming a nurse was not my initial career choice. I always envisioned myself being in the medical field, not as a nurse but as a doctor, which is why my first degree was a B.S in biology at Kean University. However, due to financial constraints I chose to go to nursing school with the idea in mind that once I became a registered nurse, if the desire remained, I could pay out of pocket to attend med-school. These past several months spent in nursing school has changed this course of thought drastically. Like Katie, I’ve come to the realization that there is no career I could see myself in other than nursing. Working with patients, helping them in their time of need is such a rewarding feeling. Education has always been important to me. Growing up, my family instilled in me that there is no greater asset to a person than their education and that thought process is what has driven me thus far. I undoubtedly intend to go for my master’s degree as a nurse anesthetist within the next 3 years. Katie’s story was an inspiration and has re-energized my drive to keep going for my masters despite how difficult I anticipate the upcoming journey to be.
Posted on: July 14, 2014, 7:46 pm


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