Happy National CRNA Week 2019! Here at Barton Associates, we’d like to thank the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) for sponsoring this week from January 20 to 26. CRNA Week is an annual celebration of anesthesia patient safety and the nation’s nearly 53,000 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and student registered nurse anesthetists.
For CRNA Charmaine K., locum tenens is a way of life and a unique career choice that has allowed her travel throughout the United States. In preparation for CRNA Week 2019, Barton Associates had the chance to speak with Charmaine, who told us about how she got into locum tenens, her day-to-day work in the operating room, and why she continues to take assignments with Barton.
How She Got Into Locum Tenens
Before she was a locum tenens CRNA, Charmaine traveled the United States as registered nurse.
“I liked the traveling. You know, seeing different places, meeting different people, seeing different equipment. I think it makes you a better health provider, because you’ve got to adapt to your environment quickly.”
Working in different environments to learn new skills is an element that many of our locum providers have also experienced. Skills are not only gained clinically, but also strengthened by working alongside different types of people, patients and personalities.
Everyday Life in the OR
In an often stressful and tense environment like the operating room, Charmaine points out that navigating personalities can be important. Even if people do not seem nice at first, she feels that first impressions can sometimes be wrong, perhaps due to someone having a bad day or trying to feel you out.
“The OR is a rough environment. It’s stressful but they also want to make sure that you’re competent to be a part of the team,” Charmaine said. The seriousness of Charmaine’s work and the work that CRNAs do every day especially comes to light in one story that Charmaine remembers clearly, from her assignment years ago in Texas.
“We were doing a hysterectomy, and [the patient] was pretty young. They put an IV in, and for some reason, I just insisted on getting a second IV in, I don’t even know why.”
Charmaine also wanted the blood in the room, which was not standard procedure.
“About an hour into the procedure, I got real warm. My St. Jude Medal got hot on my chest, and I felt someone pat me three times on the shoulder. I turned around, no one was there. Right at the same time, I heard a noise, and all this blood. [The surgeon] nicked the bladder of this patient. All this blood came out, like three liters of blood. [The patient’s] blood pressure was low, her heart rate was low, everything was low and I screamed for help, and the anesthesiologist came. That was the only time I thought I was going to lose somebody.”
But thanks to Charmaine’s actions before the procedure, having the blood in the room and giving the patient a second IV, the patient was stabilized and made it through the procedure.
“Every case is important. Even for the smallest thing… You have you have to go in there like something could go wrong.”
Why She Continues to Work With Barton
For Charmaine, being a locum tenens CRNA isn’t about the money, but rather the experience.
“I think that some people go into this for the money, but that isn’t why I do this. I do this because you learn how to deal with people every day more so as a locum because you’re moving around.”
Continuing her CRNA career with locum tenens assignments has meant traveling to some exciting destinations:
“I have seen the world, let me tell you. I’ve been to St. Thomas, I’ve been to South Dakota, the Virgin Islands…. Some will say when people are ready to die, they want to go to Hawaii. No, I did that already. I’m all set.”
Charmaine’s Barton recruiter, Nick, has also been a huge help along the way.
“He has been excellent. He’s always calling to see if I need anything. He has been one of the best recruiters I’ve had in my career. I have to say that. I’m serious. I’m [between] assignments with you guys and he’s calling me, like hey, how are you doing. We have like a brother-sister relationship here. He’s always concerned, not just for me working. Like, he’ll ask about my parents. That makes me feel, I’m not just working for the company. With [Barton], it’s more personable.”
Considering all of the lifesaving work CRNAs like Charmaine do every single day, whether on a locum assignment or not, Barton Associates is honored to be able to partner with these providers and support their invaluable role ensuring safe anesthesia care for all patients, no matter their age, procedure or healthcare setting. We appreciate the contributions you make in our community near and far – thank you!