Why I Became a CRNA

Mary Nguyen, DNP, CRNA

  • Jul 23, 2018

CRNA Since 2017

Mary Nguyen, DNP, CRNAThe decision to pursue a career as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) came very naturally and easy to me. I can vividly recall the first time I discovered what a CRNA was. I was sitting in my undergraduate nursing professional aspects course, learning about the various advance practice nursing roles, when I came across a small section on CRNAs. I had no idea that being an anesthesia provider was a possible career path within the nursing profession. I was so curious to learn more.

After reaching out to a CRNA husband and wife couple within my church, Dave and Beth Head, I was immediately welcomed with their mentorship. I was given information about the profession and had multiple opportunities to shadow each of them. There, I watched as Beth smoothly executed her anesthetic plan, time after time, during a busy day of surgeries. I also observed her in the operating room, holding her patient’s hand after the patient requested to have one last ultrasound check of her fetus, who had lost heart tones. I watched as Dave placed an epidural, alleviating a mother’s labor pains in a matter of minutes. The one-on-one patient-provider relationship, autonomy of their practice, and the challenge and complexity that the work entailed – all while still preserving the caring aspect of nursing – were just some parts of the CRNA profession that appealed to me most. From that point forward, I wanted to ensure that all career decisions I made would serve to better prepare me not only to become a strong candidate for CRNA school, but a well-rounded CRNA in the future.

Later, as a first-year student in nurse anesthesia school, I attended the AANA Mid-Year Assembly where I learned of the significance and value that CRNAs hold within the health care system. Here, I was introduced to CRNA leaders within my state and across the nation. From these professionals, I received mentorship, encouragement, support, and was informed of opportunities and projects to advance my professional career.

Inspired by leaders within the anesthesia community, I sought out and successfully secured a student position on the AANA Communications Committee. I found so much fulfillment in this role that following graduation, I applied and continued to serve on the committee as a CRNA and am now preparing for my third year on the committee.

One of my most rewarding duties within the committee involves the Student Mentoring Program. The Student Mentoring Program is where I had the opportunity to become mentored as a student and then later serve as a CRNA mentor for another student. I also had the opportunity to co-coordinate the overall mentoring program with a CRNA colleague. Throughout my pursuit in both becoming a CRNA and even beyond graduation into my professional career, I have been fortunate to experience firsthand how impactful mentorship is.

I chose to become a CRNA because the nature of the profession meets my work preferences, style, and abilities. Additionally, the ongoing, ever-changing needs of healthcare means that I will always be challenged to educate myself so I may be equipped with the best techniques and strategies for my patients. However, what validated that this profession was right for me was the immense support and mentorship that I have received from the CRNA community. In a profession such as this, truly enjoying what you do and having a strong support system is integral to the growth, longevity, and fulfillment in one’s career. Having what I to refer to as my ‘CRNA family’ means that I have the continued advice, motivation, support, and mentorship from CRNAs who truly love what they do.

In the photo above, the pendant I am wearing is of St. René Goupil, the Patron Saint of Anesthetists. It was a gift from my CRNA mentor, Lara Barrow, after working on a large project together for our state association, the Kentucky Association of Nurse Anesthetists. I received it in 2016 and have worn it every day that I have administered an anesthetic.