DNP Student Spotlight: Kirsten Michele Gutlay
Doctor of Nursing Practice Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Program '21
I felt tested as a nurse in every way [early in the pandemic]. And even more importantly, I felt that my role as a nurse in public was just as important as my role at work in the clinical setting. Being a role model on health advocacy is an important aspect of nursing, which I think is often overlooked.
Kirsten Michele Gutlay cared for COVID-19 patients as an RN during the first peak of the pandemic and answered calls for the COVID-19 Student Service Corps (CSSC) Hotline. Now a cardiology nurse practitioner, she plans to help develop new nurse practitioner orientations and continuing education.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself—where are you originally from, and what do you like to do in your spare time?
I go by Kit, and I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I moved here for the Acute Care Doctor of Nursing Practice program (DNP) program almost three years ago. On my days off, I’m almost obsessed with finding new restaurants and trying new cuisines, or venturing into the art, fashion, and photography world.
Why did you decide to pursue nursing and why did you choose Columbia Nursing?
I found nursing by accident actually! An acquaintance mentioned that it would suit me well, and I applied to a nursing program the next week. I’m so glad I did, though, because it’s truly a unique field where the opportunities and career pathways are endless. I chose Columbia Nursing because I wanted to experience life in New York at one of the top learning institutions with a strong nursing program history.
How has the pandemic shaped your feelings about becoming a nurse?
I’ll never forget what one of my colleagues back home told me when I announced I was moving to New York. She said, “You know, if war starts, NYC will be the first to be hit.” The first peak of COVID-19 felt like that. I felt tested as a nurse in every way. And even more importantly, I felt that my role as a nurse in public was just as important as my role at work in the clinical setting. Being a role model on health advocacy is an important aspect of nursing, which I think is often overlooked.
How has your Columbia Nursing education and experience prepared you to deal with the pandemic?
At the very start of the pandemic, the school had multiple opportunities for students to help out in the community. Joining the COVID-19 Student Service Corps COVID-19 Hotline Group helped me to understand the perspectives of people who weren’t in health care. Being a source of comfort to those isolated helped me in dealing with all of the uncertainties during the beginning of the pandemic.
What’s your next step after you graduate?
Right now I’m working as a cardiology nurse practitioner at NewYork-Presbyterian-Columbia University Irving Medical Center. As my career progresses, I’m looking forward to contributing as much as I can to the development of new nurse practitioner orientations and continuing education.
Do you have a favorite memory of your time at Columbia Nursing?
I think all of my “firsts” in clinicals will be my favorite memories…presenting for the first time, inserting our first lines, and just the overall abundance of learning. My favorite memories are the long days spent on campus with the friends I made in my cohort. The bonding over our collective experiences definitely made Columbia a journey to remember!