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.
Jess is a CRNA at American Anesthesiology of Minnesota in Minneapolis. She has been a CRNA for two and a half years.
“I worked as a nurse in the intensive care unit for six years before pursing my master of nursing in nurse anesthesia at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga School of Nursing. The program was 27 months long. It was grueling but so worth it. By the time I finished my master’s program, I had completed 1,500 clinical hours and over 700 cases.”
Inspiration to become a CRNA
“While still an undergraduate nursing student, I went home to meet my then boyfriend/now husband’s family. His mother was a nurse. She asked me what field of nursing I wanted to pursue, and I didn’t really know at the time. She said, ‘If I could go back and do it over again, I would choose anesthesia.’ I was stunned because I had never really heard of the field. Soon after, I had the opportunity to shadow a CRNA and I was hooked! I got to see firsthand how a CRNA works to establishes trust with a patient early on, rapport during pre-op, delivers that patient to the operating room and is there when the patient wakes up. I feel so grateful to have had insight into my goals early on.”
Challenges and rewards
“Health care is ever changing, and that means staying up to date on the latest trainings, technology and pharmaceuticals. It’s both a challenge and a reward. Because of that new technology or drug, a patient may report waking without nausea, for example, which was different from a previous procedure the same patient had. I see people at their most vulnerable, and I play a role in their positive experiences.”
“I could talk all day about the memorable experiences of my career, but one this past year sticks out in my mind. It probably stayed with me more because I was pregnant at the time. Some of my patients are in our hospital’s busy Mother Baby Center. I remember one family that was so incredibly nice. Mothers understandably have a lot going on at delivery, but this woman took the time to thank me for helping her and her baby. What began as a regular delivery turned into a C-section. I checked on the family a few days after the baby was born, and I’ll always remember how grateful the mother was, telling me what a difference I made in keeping her calm and focused. She said, because of me, she knew she would be OK.”
“It’s definitely the people. We have amazing CRNAs, anesthesiologists and leadership. We are a family. We celebrate life events together and spend time with each other outside of the office.”
Advice for aspiring CRNAs
“Do it! I have mentored several nursing students and current nurses. I encourage them to look into the field, and definitely suggest they shadow a CRNA like I did. What people should know is that anyone can do it. I know people who have become CRNAs right after their minimum intensive care unit nursing experience is met, those with young kids at home and even those who have been nurses for years.”