National Nurse Anesthetist Week is an annual celebration recognizing the valuable role of the anesthetist. Each year, 43 million patients place their trust in more than 50,000 anesthetists and student anesthetists across the country. In honor of the MEDNAX family of more 1,800 anesthetists in 15 states, we are excited to profile several CRNAs whose dedication to their work inspire us.
Jennifer is a CRNA at American Anesthesiology of Tennessee in Memphis. She has been a CRNA for three years.
“I completed my bachelor of nursing at Baptist College of Health Sciences in Memphis, Tennessee, and my master of nursing in nurse anesthesia at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. My clinical experience was primarily in the Tennessee cities of Memphis, Jackson and Nashville, and also Corinth, Mississippi.”
Inspiration to become a CRNA
“I was given the opportunity as a high school graduate to shadow in the surgery center where my mom was a scrub nurse. I followed the nurses and the scrub technicians, and I observed surgeries. I was most interested in the profession of anesthesia.”
Challenges and rewards
“Overall, the anesthesia profession itself is a challenge. It requires patience, flexibility and critical-thinking skills. Many times it’s an adrenaline rush because of the complexity of a case. You have a patient’s life in your hands, and your work gives the patient the best chance of survival. When you return to work the day after a case and check on that patient, and you see he is awake and doing well, you realize your hard work and perseverance has paid off. That’s the greatest reward of all. The patient—who is a father, brother, son, grandfather or uncle, and he will have another day with his precious family—is what keeps me going.”
“After a long day of anesthesia care, I brought a patient to the ICU in stable but critical condition. Shortly after, we brought him back to the OR because of bleeding, and continued care for many hours to stabilize him. In the morning, when I checked on him, he was wide-awake, sitting in bed and extubated. He immediately smiled and thanked me for saving his life. Unbeknownst to me, the night shift nurses had discussed the night’s event and spoke directly of my role in his care. Those are the days I know I love my job.”
“I feel the anesthesiologists and hospital personnel respect us as professionals. I enjoy the relationships we develop, and most importantly, that I am allowed to practice my skills and knowledge in a safe and caring environment. This practice encourages growth, both professionally and personally. The anesthesiologists I work alongside are always willing to help, guide and teach. The physicians treat me as an equal part of a team. I feel they value my competence, judgment and knowledge. This, in my eyes, shows that they trust me, and they realize I am advocating for my patients.”
Advice for aspiring CRNAs
“Anesthesia is a rewarding career, though it can be emotionally and physically demanding at times. But if you enjoy the challenge and are willing to work hard—with the patient’s best interest at heart—you will be able to succeed in many areas of anesthesia patient care. You also have to be willing to be a lifelong learner. The medical world is always changing and making advancements. You must stay abreast of these changes in order to provide safe and effective anesthesia.”