When Kate Hurlbut was a sophomore at Texas A&M, her mom had to have surgery. During her mother’s recovery, Kate was introduced to an amazing nurse that helped her mother recuperate. Kate grew close to her mother’s nurse who asked if Kate had ever considered nursing school.
“She shared how many options there are in the nursing field and told me what a difference I could make as a nurse. After that conversation, I started researching nursing and discovered that I could become a nurse practitioner and still be able to do all the things that I wanted to do in providing care for patients. Soon after, I started applying to nursing schools.”
As she entered nursing school, Kate was convinced she would end up in adult nursing but during her nursing rotation, Kate was surprised when she fell in love with pediatrics and Texas Children’s. She then began her pediatric nursing career as a student nurse extern on the Cardiology Unit at Texas Children’s in 2002. She stayed on as a staff nurse in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit upon graduating. Kate remained in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) for a year before switching over to the Pulmonary/Adolescent Unit. Upon finishing her master’s degree in Nursing for Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in 2007, Kate transitioned to Texas Children’s Pediatrics – Humble Group as their first pediatric nurse practitioner and has remained with that group for nearly 15 years.
Kate shares more about her career at Texas Children’s and her commitment to the future. . .
What is your day to day like in your current role?
During a normal clinic day, I function as a provider and see a combination of well and sick visits. I diagnose and treat common childhood illnesses and order any necessary diagnostic tests as well as prescribe medications. I am passionate about patient education and providing parents with anticipatory guidance.
What do people not know about your job?
When I first started in this position, there were many people that did not know what a nurse practitioner was or that I was able to diagnose and treat common childhood illnesses. After some adjustment, the families became comfortable bringing their children to me for well and sick visits.
What is your favorite part of the role?
I love watching each patient grow and develop their own personalities. Children are so resilient! It always amazes me at just how much they can overcome.
What is the one skill you use most at Texas Children’s?
I would say the greatest skill I use daily is communication. Parents with sick children are often overwhelmed and stressed. They want to feel heard and have their concerns addressed. I strive to make sure all their questions are answered before they leave the office and they are comfortable with the plan of care.
What has been the most challenging part of your career so far?
I would have to say my first year as a nurse practitioner was the most challenging for me. I was new to my role and new to my office. I spent a lot of time educating the staff as well as the patients as to what a nurse practitioner can do. I also had to develop my own protocols because there were not very many nurse practitioners throughout Texas Children’s Pediatrics at that time.
Our core values are embracing freedom, leading tirelessly, living compassionately and amplifying unity. Which one of these values do you most identify with? And why?
The value I most identify with is living compassionately. We suffered the loss of one of our daughters at 7 weeks old in 2015. Going through that loss has made me more aware of the suffering of others. You never know what someone may be going through in their personal life, so I try to show compassion to others in all I do.
Tomorrow, Together represents Texas Children’s commitment to creating a bright future for our employees and our mission. What is your commitment for the future?
My commitment for the future is to advocate for the increased utilization of nurse practitioners across the healthcare system. For a long time, I was the only nurse practitioner in my area, so I would love to educate others on the advantages of nurse practitioners and effective ways to utilize their expertise.
What do you like to do for fun outside of work?
I spend a lot of my free time serving on the Palliative Care Family Advisory Council for Texas Children’s. I am a grief mentor, so I walk alongside other moms who have experienced child loss and offer them support. I have also led several virtual grief support groups for Texas Children’s.
Our family opened the Butterfly Bereavement Room at the Pavilion NICU in 2017 in memory of our daughter, Ella Grace. I periodically check on that room and re-stock any needed supplies.
For fun, I love cheering on my kids at their sporting events. I love to read, take pictures and travel with my husband and children.
Kate has allowed her compassion to guide her through the hard times and continue to drive her forward while at Texas Children’s. Kate’s next step in her career is to go back to school and receive her Doctorate in Nursing Practice, all while continuing her career at Texas Children’s. Eventually, Kate would like to teach at the university level to inspire the next generation of nurse practitioners.
Like Kate exemplifies, Texas Children’s is a place that you grow a career and make a difference in the lives of others. If you are looking to build your skills and better your tomorrow, search our open positions and apply today.