By Bianca Viana
This year marked the 10th anniversary for Adelphi University’s, 10 Under 10 Young Alumni Recognition Program. The ceremony took place during Spirit Weekend via Zoom on Saturday, Oct. 16. This award is aimed at celebrating, “achieved exceptional career and professional accomplishments before even celebrating their 10-year Adelphi reunion,” according to the office of Alumni Relations.
Among the recipients of this year’s awards was Alex Klotsche ’17, BSN, RN-BC. Klotsche currently serves as a Nurse Care Manager and Chief Nurse Fellow at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell (NYP-Cornell). In that role he directs all aspects of in-patient care while developing care plans with the interdisciplinary team to ensure a safe discharge among patients and also reducing readmission rates. Following in his father’s path, John Klotsche '79 MSW—a former adjunct professor at Cornell—he has also found his way back to Adelphi this fall, where he started as an adjunct clinical professor in the College of Nursing and Public Health. (Both of his parents are Adelphi alumni as his mother, Lori Klotsche, graduated with a MA in 1998.) Klotsche said he returned because he has “always enjoyed tutoring and precepting nurses and because I was a recent alumnus and felt it beneficial for the students to connect to someone in their shoes.”
Veronica McCann, a student in Klotsche’s clinical group said, “Professor Klotsche is able to communicate very well with my clinical group. He remembers what it’s like to be an undergrad nursing student at Adelphi. He knows what it's like to be in our shoes. Being that he is also a recent graduate he is able to relate to us and I have definitely learned a lot from him.”
After graduation, Klotsche went on to serve as a registered nurse (RN) on a blended stepdown/med-surg unit at NYP-Cornell. He was then promoted to charge nurse and preceptor. In these roles, Klotsche supervised nurses on assigned shifts, addressed issues, educated new nurses on the floor and provided the compassionate, emotional, psychological and spiritual care that nurses are known for. During this time, he also went on to pursue his Master of Science in Nursing and Health Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.
As a student at Adelphi, Klotsche said his fondest memory was speaking at the ribbon-cutting ceremony in 2016 for the College of Nursing and Public Health’s pride and joy, Nexus. As the 2016-'17 president of the Adelphi University Student Nurses Association (AUSNA), Klotsche was asked to speak for this event alongside President Christine Riordan and the Board of Trustees, while addressing multiple news outlets and the Adelphi community. “It was a very gratifying moment being able to speak and be surrounded by some of the most important people on campus,” he said.
His favorite class as an Adelphi undergraduate was Healing of the Arts, he said, which focused on the different ways in which healing can be promoted, such as music, art and animal therapy.
“This was a class that helps me now as a nurse because I am able to engage in some of the techniques now with my patients. I am more aware that these other healing techniques exist in healthcare,” he said. “Music therapy and art therapy are two therapeutic techniques that I use on myself and my patients. I have patients play their favorite music, like Frank Sinatra during the end of life. I have found it helps the patients and their families during an unfortunate time.”
While Klotsche’s success in his career since graduating from Adelphi in 2017 speaks for itself, he said he had to learn to find a healthy balance in his life. He advises students to understand their limitations. He said he believes that in order to find a healthy balance you must have, “self-awareness and a support system to help you realize when you’re taking on too much and will tell you when to slow down. The biggest key is remembering to focus on spending time with friends and family.”
This was never more important than during the height of the Covid pandemic when the ideas of self-care and support systems became mainstreamed. For Klotsche and other healthcare workers it became a necessity. About his time working through the pandemic, Klotsche shared, “It was surreal to go into work when you’re walking around in an empty city. You’re about to walk into your shift and you just don’t know what you’re going to go into.”
He added that daily he’d “watch families Facetime with their loved ones before they died.” It was in moments like these he said that self-care and support systems kept him going.
The pandemic led Klotsche to realize that as a nurse there are many mental stressors that people had knowledge of going into the field, but they were never really acknowledged until the pandemic. New York City was one of the first nationwide to be hit hard by Covid. The overwhelming support for the city and the healthcare workers was something that Klotsche said he will never forget. He recalled that each night nurses and other healthcare workers would walk out onto the streets to hear the support from the city.
“Thousands would clap at 7 pm to celebrate our frontline heroes for working around the clock fighting this virus head on. It highlighted what we take for granted [each day] ...it made you realize just how crucial your role as a nurse is. Without nurses the healthcare system would fall apart,” he said.
Klotsche said it was his first position at NYP-Cornell as an RN where he learned one of his greatest lessons for his career. Two months off orientation in his new position, he was surprised to learn that he had been removed from being one of his patient’s nurses. He said the patient had certain expectations that he was unaware of, leading to a lack of communication and removal from the case. He explained this is a common problem that can occur with many patients when they are not informed of their nurse's other tasks and responsibilities for that day.
But the situation made him step back and realize the need for “understanding your patient's expectations from you as their nurse.” He emphasized that it is important to remain transparent with them.
“Being in a hospital can be scary for them and as a nurse the last thing you want is for your patient to feel as if you are not there for them,” Klotsche said. “Explain to patients when your busy times are. Be as upfront and honest as you can be. Explain to your patients what you are doing when you are outside of their room. This can ease a client’s anxiety during their stay.”
Klotsche has taken on the more administrative role in the hospital as nurse care manager to “have a new perspective to the other side of healthcare. It has been beneficial in understanding the different areas within healthcare rather than your typical healthcare duties as a nurse.”
Currently, Klotsche is pursuing his Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a dual concentration in financial management and healthcare management, innovation and technology from Johns Hopkins University. He said this will allow him to further explore his career options outside of a hospital. “Having an RN degree allows you to stand out from other applicants,” he explained.
Klotsche is certain that his RN degree will only further help him as he continues to pursue his MBA. “As a nurse you are known for working in stressful environments, having good communication skills and you are known for being able to work well with a team,” he said. “With an MBA and a background in nursing there are many other career paths that become available to me. I was between healthcare start-up versus investment banking versus healthcare consulting. However, healthcare consulting is where I ultimately hope to end up.”
Although he does a lot, Klotsche enjoys it and believes that each of his experiences have helped him personally and professionally. As for his future as an RN, he doubts that he will return to the bedside, but he hopes to use his background to engage in volunteer work within the community, such as participating in the American Red Cross or Medical Missions.
“I also hope to continue to teach and give back in that capacity,” Klotsche said, adding that he hopes to stay at Adelphi University and serve on the Board of Trustees in the near future.