Allie Kraybill is not someone who travels on the path of least resistance. Growing up in Wilmington, N.C., she rode horses competitively through high school and college. As a junior in high school, Kraybill took the first step on a nursing path that has zigzagged from North Carolina to Minnesota to Colorado.
Kraybill, RN, BSN, is working on her Master of Science in Nursing degree at the University of Colorado College of Nursing while earning her certification as an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP).
Scheduled to graduate from the program in May, 2023, she is currently an ICU nurse at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, but the seeds for her career were planted as a teenager in North Carolina.
“In ninth grade, they want to know what you want to do with the rest of your life and I had no idea,” she says. “My mom pointed out that I was really good at science and math and should consider something in healthcare. So I ended up taking a lot of extra anatomy classes.”
Kraybill joined a health occupation association, which allowed her to earn her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), as a junior in high school.
“I ended up working in a nursing home and a hospital during my last two years of high school just to see if I was interested in healthcare at all,” she says. “I went into [the program] with 10 of my best friends and only two of us became nurses.”
She said the challenge of nursing – even as a CNA– inspired her to take a deeper dive into the profession.
“Nursing is not what it used to be. It is much more fulfilling than fluffing someone’s pillow and ensuring they are comfortable,” she says. “There’s a lot of training and increased responsibility placed on nurses today. The ability to truly help people and the variety of career options within nursing is what really compelled me.”
After graduating from high school, Kraybill studied at the University of South Carolina and worked as a Registered Nurse at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. before settling in Colorado.
Why she chose CU Nursing
Kraybill says she was drawn to CU Nursing because it was one of the few colleges in the country that offered a master’s degree with an emphasis in acute care.
“CU Nursing felt like the best option to me because I liked their curriculum, it was a three-year program, and they were one of the leading programs in adult gero-acute care,” she says. “After talking to Dr. [Angela] Pal and really figuring out what the program was about, I decided this was the program for me. Then, when they had us back for interview day, I knew it was the right fit.”
As an MSN student, Kraybill enjoys the amount of time students can get with the faculty.
“The program is small and I like it that way,” she says. “The amount of one-on-one time you can get with your professors is a huge benefit. If you call them because you are having a work, personal or academic problem, they’re going to help you navigate that. They want to help you as a whole -- not just from an academic setting.”
The 48-credit-hour AG-ACNP program equips participants with skills to assist patients with acute and often chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma and hypertension.
“I like being able to work in a fast-paced setting, working on stabilizing people, and then optimizing them ultimately for discharge,” Kraybill says. “I think you have a larger spectrum of people to work with.”
Though most NPs work as family nurse practitioners, there is a growing and urgent need for practitioners in adult-gerontology acute care. As an added benefit, NPs with the AG-ACNP certification enter the job market with more opportunities and higher earning potential than family nurse practitioners.
What’s ahead in the future?
Though seven years in critical care nursing might not seem like a long time, Kraybill says it’s “quite a long time” considering how difficult healthcare became in recent years. Despite these challenges, she’s been energized by participating in the MSN program and to accept the role of being a new learner.
Looking ahead, Kraybill describes her opportunities as “endless.”
“There are so many options that it’s overwhelming,” she says. “When I started this program, I was very set on working with cardiac surgery patients – specifically the ICU, because that’s my nursing background. Currently, I’m in a difficult position, trying to decide if I want to stay in a department where I’ve spent my career thus far, or whether it’s time to broaden my horizons and try a new specialty.”
In what little spare time she has in her busy life, Kraybill says she likes to get fresh air, ride her bike, and travel as much as time will allow.