Uncle’s brain tumor spurs interest in nursing career

Kaitlin Tarr
“I was specifically interested in neurosurgery because my uncle had a Grade 4 glioblastoma, a very aggressive brain tumor,” says Kaitlin Tarr, RN.

Kaitlin Tarr has accomplished more in 20 years than some people do in twice that time.

Growing up in a small town in Illinois, Tarr took advantage of every possible educational opportunity. She became a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) in high school, worked as a CNA, and then began attending college in high school too.

“I graduated with my RN at age 19,” says Tarr, RN in the Surgical and Neurosciences Intensive Care Unit (SNICU). “I came to Iowa to pursue the RN to BSN program. Next year, I’ll graduate with my BSN at age 21. I then hope to apply to the Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) program here.”

When interviewing for a job with UI Health Care, Tarr was drawn to intensive care work.

“I was specifically interested in neurosurgery because my uncle had a Grade 4 glioblastoma, a very aggressive brain tumor,” she says. “Seeing that as a child, visiting him in the neurology ICU fascinated me, and I wanted to learn more.”

Helping others brings peace

Tarr and her team care for many ill patients in the SNICU and she’s grateful and humbled by her work.

“It makes me feel good to know that what I’m doing is actually helping people,” she says. “I am happy to know my actions positively impact other’s lives.”

She’s also happy to learn on the job in a fast-paced and stimulating environment.

It makes me feel good to know that what I’m doing is actually helping people. I am happy to know my actions positively impact other’s lives.

— Kaitlin Tarr, RN

“We’re always busy and on the run,” she says. “But helping others brings me peace.”

Identifying with a patient’s daughter

Nursing provides an opportunity for Tarr to help both her patients and their families. She was recently recognized with a Daisy Award for her compassionate care.

“Kaitlin has been taking care of my mom for the last three nights,” wrote her nominator. “She has been so kind and caring through this extremely hard time for my family. Not only is Kaitlin a fantastic nurse, she is a great person as well.”

Tarr says being nominated by the patient’s daughter had a profound effect on her.

“The daughter was my age and was beginning nursing school that week,” she says. “I helped engage her in her mother’s care as much as I could. It meant so much that I made a difference to their family.”