Katie Duke, MSN, is a board-certified adult geriatric acute care nurse practitioner (AGACNP-BC). She shared some of her experiences as an NP and content creator for healthcare.
Q: Please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I have been in nursing for 18 years, and I have always valued nurses having more of a voice and representation in the media. I am known for my authenticity and transparency, sharing my experiences and, more infamously, my bad decisions. During my career, I have been honored to have precepted over 100 nurses, founded committees, pioneered quality projects and expanded outside of the traditional role to grow my path into content creation, mentoring, social media advocacy, public speaking and podcasting.
Q: Has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you have had to overcome?
Nothing has come easy, but with uneasiness comes growth. One of the biggest challenges I have faced is the self-doubt I place on myself, alongside the fear of being too “outspoken” and “non-traditional” for the nursing community. It is a daily battle, but over the years, I have realized that I am not for everyone and that some things are not meant to work out, and that you cannot move forward operating out of fear. Be you, be authentic, own your story, persist, and growth will come.
Q: Out of all these challenges, which challenge or “bad decision” has shown you your true strength?
Being fired. I was fired on national television in front of eight million viewers for posting a photo of an empty trauma room (which was deemed an insensitive photo) on Instagram. Overnight, I had to make a decision to stop all of it or to tell my truth, own my bad decisions, be transparent and keep pushing through the disapproval and judgment of others. And I chose the latter.
Q: Appreciate you sharing that Katie. You have been a nurse influencer since before the term was coined. How has being a public figure in the healthcare space impacted your life?
Being a public figure is something I value incredibly. I am honored to be a source of inspiration, guidance, empowerment and transparency for those in our community. However, the flip side is the constant pressure to be productive and be present. Sometimes the weight of being accountable to a community that looks up to you or looks to you for guidance can take over your mental health. Don’t get me wrong, accountability is a good thing, but sometimes you need a break from it all, and you can’t necessarily take that break because you have 125 DMs from people who support you, need advice or are sharing a vulnerable moment. I will never take that for granted — it is definitely a blessing — but that doesn’t mean it can’t feel heavy at times.
Q: From your experience, what advice do you have for people working in the social media space?
Be authentic. Be you. Find your purpose, and your community will find you. Also, you are not for everybody, and everyone will not support you. That is OK because you can have impact at any level, and you don’t need everyone’s approval.
Q: Next, I have to applaud you for hosting the Bad Decisions podcast and spilling all your tea with us. At what moment did you realize it was time to stop hiding all of your bad decisions and start embracing them?
Many years ago when everyone tried to shame me for those exact bad decisions. People can’t use something against you if you’re not running from it. I wanted to show people that most of us go through very parallel situations and instead of sitting at home feeling ashamed or like your life is over or that you can’t recover from something, we can talk about these moments and empower others through our stories.
Q: What have been your biggest motivating factors or “why” to keep chasing your dreams and goals?
Our community needs authentic leaders who are relatable and present. Our community needs people who will speak up about the issues that concern us: radios, safe workplaces, mental health support, equal pay, etc. But we also need someone who can make a good recommendation for paint colors, restaurants, travel tips, and relationship advice. Also, I love what I do.
Q: If you had a perfect life, what would it look like?
A perfect life doesn’t exist. But, for me, close to it would be to get out of debt, have successful subsequent seasons of the Bad Decisions podcast (on a season break at the moment), write a book, get married, own an apartment in NYC and a cabin in the Poconos, get back into marathon shape and have a healthy family and friends.
Q: What advice would you tell your younger self?
Just do it, whatever that big thing is that you want to do. Just start now and never give up. Also, save more money.
Follow Katie on Instagram @thekatieduke, subscribe to her Bad Decisions podcast, follow her on LTK for style and home decor recs, and subscribe for announcements from Katie about international group trips, events, announcements and more.