Before I even asked the question, Katie Kreamer gave me the answer. “When did you realize …” I started. “I wanted to be a nurse since I was in kindergarten,” Kreamer blurted out. “I think I just always wanted to take care of people.”
When you’re that passionate about your goal in life, interruptions are allowed. For Kreamer, becoming a nurse wasn’t just a vocation, it was her destiny. And she wasn’t about to let anything get in her way … save for perhaps learning her ABC’s.
It took me less than five seconds to glean the level of determination and perseverance Kreamer had in order to earn her nursing license. “I went to the University of Iowa and they have a renowned school of nursing,” said Kreamer. “I loved nursing school – but it was hard, hard, hard.”
After graduation, Kreamer married a doctor and dutifully paid her dues … from her stint at a children’s hospital in St. Louis to working at the esteemed Mayo Clinic as a Pediatric Oncology Nurse. When motherhood called, she opted to take two baby steps back. (Pun intended.) “I stayed home with my kids while they were little and then went back to work,” said Kreamer.
Later, when divorce loomed, Kreamer struggled, but was undaunted. “I wasn’t put on this earth to ever settle. Part of my role was to be a mother … that’s why I’m here, but that’s not the only reason,” said Kreamer. “I went through a major life change and that was hard … trying to get back on my feet.” So Kreamer tackled being a school nurse – an ideal position for a single mom to be with her kids, but not ideal for her long-term goal. “I always knew I wanted to go into women’s health,” she mentioned. “I had followed around a nurse practitioner early in my rotation who specialized in that field. I watched how easily she talked to her patients … and how she put her patients at ease. I thought — I want to do that.”
Score one for Kreamer the Dreamer.
“It was the perfect place for me at that point in my life,” said Kreamer. “To be there for my kids and then the ultimate dream of getting my Master’s.” New husband Todd was her number one fan. “Todd said, ‘Let’s do it!’ He was incredibly supportive throughout the whole process.”
At 42 years young, Kreamer went back to school. Trepidation was around every corner. “In high school and undergraduate, my goal was to be fun and cute … not smart,” Kreamer laughed. “I got out of college the first time by the skin of my teeth. I still have PTSD flashbacks driving by the school of nursing. Flashbacks that I didn’t finish my homework.” If there was ever a moment of doubt or hesitation … this was it. Fortunately, wiser heads (and a few deep breaths) prevailed.
Before she took the plunge, Kreamer fessed up to taking a few preliminary classes just to see if Stella could get her groove back. “I got a D in statistics the first time around,” admitted Kreamer. “This time I got an A.”
Three years later Kreamer got her Master’s — with just under a 4.0 GPA. Her kids were thrilled and husband Todd beamed. “When I saw her walk across that stage and finally get that diploma she’d been dreaming of, we were all so proud,” said her husband. “A very emotional day for everyone.”
Today, Kreamer is living her dream … figuratively and literally. And now when she talks about helping her female patients, she glows. Her energy and enthusiasm are palpable. “I love it so much,” said Kreamer. “I’m always learning. Medicine is always changing. There’s always something new. I’m empowering people and helping them. Women are looking for me to help them.”
While she’s imminently humble, don’t think for one-second she doesn’t take time to pat herself on the back. “I busted my ass,” said Kreamer. “Everything in life that is worth it – if it comes easy, you don’t appreciate it. I had to go through the fire for everything I have. It’s never too late to move forward, to keep educating yourself. This is my destiny.”
Of course, I had to ask her if she had any pearls of wisdom for people looking to shake things up – you know, a bit later in life. “If you don’t like something, you can change it,” said Kreamer. “I’ve had some life challenges that people can relate to. Be authentic. We’re all spirits having a human experience here. Why would we do it – if we’re not helping each other along the way?”
Her patients, meanwhile, cherish her … and for Kreamer that’s the icing on the cake – the payoff for all her hard work. “I got a review from one of my patients and it said I was ‘unusually caring’’’, said Kreamer. “I’m empathetic … I think it’s genetic. My dad told me I need to stop trying to save the world. I can’t.”