From Bemidji State to Dubai, Beaver Grad Finds Success as a Travel Cardiac Nurse

Leah Gnitka '16

Leah Gnitka

Leah Gnitka ’16

Bemidji State’s Nursing program is an established and fully accredited nursing program with a 30-year history of providing baccalaureate-educated nurses to the region and beyond. The program offers two tracks to complete the baccalaureate degree — a four-year track for students just beginning their education and a two-year track for students who are licensed Registered Nurses with an associate degree or diploma.

The focus of the program is to give students broad, practical experiences along with the deep, technical education required of a nurse. The program applies a student-centered approach that mentors students throughout their educational journeys.


Bemidji State University alumna Leah Gnitka ‘16 had multiple job offers before she even finished her nursing licensure exam. Now, she is working her dream job as a cardiac travel nurse for Aya Healthcare.

Gnitka didn’t always imagine herself as a cardiac nurse, as it was her hardest subject during nursing school.

“Once I graduated, I made it into a new graduate program at my dream hospital where they let us work on different units one month at a time. Through this program, I discovered that I loved working cardiac because of the intensity of the floor. I now love working cardiac and couldn’t see myself working a different specialty.”

During her time at Bemidji State, Gnitka was able to take advantage of numerous campus involvement opportunities that helped her build her resume.

“From the Student Nurses’ Association to being a counselor at the Scrubs Camp, there were a variety of opportunities available to me. Being involved on campus helped build my resume, give me leadership experiences and become comfortable with new situations. Also, because of the size of the nursing class it was easy to get one-on-one time with the professors if you didn’t understand what you were learning.”

Since accepting the position as a travel-nurse, Gnitka has seen parts of the world she always imagined – from Washington to Dubai and Arizona to Thailand. Even though she has traveled to the far reaches of the world, she stays connected to her Minnesota family and friends with her blog “Scrubs in a Suitcase.”

“I have always wanted to start a blog, but didn’t really know what I should write about. When I was on my first travel assignment in West Virginia, I wanted a way to remember my journey and be able to reflect back on my travels so I thought writing a blog would be the perfect way. I also discovered that a lot of people have questions about travel nursing and wanted to provide extra resources for those who are.”

In one of her blog posts titled “A Letter to the Nursing Student,” Gnitka offers advice on how to cherish the college experience and memories made in nursing school to current and prospective students.

“You will look back on your nursing school days and amidst remembering the tears and stresses you’ll also see the good time and memories created,” she said. “These are the moments of nursing school that you’ll remember.”