CRNA since 1994I decided to become a nurse because I wanted to be a CRNA. My father was a physician in a 35,000-person community and my mother and sister were nurses, so many health careers were well known around my house as I grew up. I became aware of CRNAs, and what they did, in high school. My sister had a good friend whose sister – Carolyn Nichols, BA, CRNA – was a CRNA and very active in the AANA. Consequently, I had good sources of professional and career information early on. The autonomy, respect, career opportunities, and the professional status of CRNAs also were important and influential on my decision.
I love absolutely everything about being a CRNA! I have collected a lot of degrees in my 20-year career, and have had many interesting and exciting opportunities during my time in nursing and nurse anesthesia. Each and every one of them was either directly or indirectly related to nurse anesthesia. All of the best things in my life can be attributed to my career choice and for that I am truly appreciative.
My nurse anesthesia experiences have been broad and varied. I have been active in clinical practice, graduate education, higher education specialized accreditation, nursing regulation, and professional association work as a staff member of the AANA for six years. At every turn, I have experienced firsthand how valuable and important nurse anesthesia is to the healthcare system and what quality work and contribution we provide to the healthcare system in the United States.
Because of nurse anesthesia, I have had the opportunity to live in Knoxville, Tenn., metro-Chicago, Ill., and Houston, Texas. Also, because of my interest and participation with the International Federation of Nurse Anesthetists (IFNA), I have traveled to Lausanne, Switzerland; Geneva, Switzerland; Den Hague, Netherlands; and Ljubljana, Slovenia.
For those thinking about nurse anesthesia: Make your choice for this career as early as you can and really apply yourself while you are in school – from your freshman year in high school, work towards the AP science classes. In college, strive to make the best grades possible because the selection process is rigorous and tough. It's just as important, however, be a well-rounded person. You need to be someone who can meet new people easily and strike-up conversation naturally and meaningfully. As CRNAs we have a very limited amount of time to get to know our patients, to get the essential information to take safe care of them, and to assess them and plan for their anesthetic care. However, in that short time, it is equally important to make our patients feel as comfortable and confident in us as is possible. As they go to sleep for a procedure, they need to be able to trust that we are assured and strong and will be their advocate when they can’t advocate for themselves. That is the human touch, and it is vital in order to be a great anesthetist.
Also, get cracking…time is wasting and we need you to take our places! My only real piece of advice is live (professionally) by one phrase borrowed from the military: 5 minutes early is 10 minutes late. If you carry this attitude into your career it will take you far. That no matter where you go or who you meet, CRNAs are from a personality as well as knowledge base, so much more alike than we are different. And that we are a really great group of people.