Nurse anesthetists are registered nurses who have furthered their education to an advanced-practice nurse specializing in nurse anesthesia. The nurse anesthetist, also known as the CRNA (certified registered nurse anesthetist), plays a crucial role in the administration of anesthesia and pain management. In some areas, they are the sole anesthesia providers.
Why Did I Choose Nurse Anesthesia as a Profession? The Faces of Nurse Anesthesia
Sonya Brown, BS, MS, CRNA
Independent CRNA/Locum Contractor
For as long as I can remember, I knew that I wanted to work in healthcare. My chosen path led me to nursing school and eventually nurse anesthesia school. Like many other nurses going into the profession, I wanted to take care of patients because I liked helping people. However, I was unfamiliar with the nurse anesthesia specialization until after graduating from nursing school.
I recall working one day in the ICU when a nurse anesthetist came to pick up one of my patients to transport to the OR. When I asked how she liked her job, she suggested a shadow experience to learn more about the profession. I took her advice and did a shadowing day in Anesthesia. Afterwards, I decided that this profession is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Being able to focus all my attention on one patient at a time is very fulfilling. I also enjoy the autonomy that is possible in this profession. Additionally, you can perform anesthesia in many different settings and take care of a variety of patients.
For example, nurse anesthetists can work in hospitals, outpatient surgical centers, or dental and eye centers, to name a few. I can have a caseload involving neurosurgery, orthopedics, and general surgery all in the same day. I love my chosen profession and can’t wait to see what the future holds.
J. Ziggy Szymanski, MSN, BSN, CRNA
Penn Highlands DuBois, Director of Anesthesia
My oldest sibling is my sister Carrie, and she is a nurse. I’ve always been very close to her and, with her guidance, I followed in her footsteps and decided to go into nursing.
I remember starting my BSN at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing not exactly knowing what kind of nursing I wanted to do. One day in clinicals, I had the opportunity to shadow in the operating room. Although I was paired up with the circulating nurse, I was immediately fascinated by what was happening behind the drape.
I spent the rest of my day shadowing the CRNA and instantly fell in love with the field. I think what most attracted me to anesthesia was the science behind it. I completely geeked out over how much consideration (all the way down to the level of receptors) went into each decision that was made. I have never once regretted my decision and I continue to love my field and colleagues every day.
I am truly blessed to be a small part of this amazing profession.
Bethany Zawisza, BSN, MS, CRNA
NAPA Anesthesia, Western Maryland
I remember my first interaction with a CRNA very clearly. I was just a few days away from graduating nursing school, and believe it or not, I had never heard of a nurse anesthetist until I was a patient. Out she strode from the operating room hallway, wearing pale green scrubs, a blue surgical cap, and a reassuring smile. Her name was Debbie, and she assured me she’d take care of me while the surgeon removed my appendix.
I can’t say I was scared, but I certainly was intrigued. A nurse was going to put me to sleep? I was about to enter the workforce as an RN at a large university hospital, and I had no idea I could administer anesthesia one day!
Debbie did, in fact, take excellent care of me, and I went on to work in the MICU following my recovery. I never forgot her, and it seemed quite like fate one day as I boarded a bus and noticed Debbie in a seat. We exchanged contact information, and I eventually shadowed her in the OR. I admired her autonomy as well as her confidence and skill in keeping her patients comfortable. It was all very incredible to observe, so I set my sights on anesthesia school.
Like any good marriage, there have been frustrations from time to time, but my love for anesthesia has only deepened.
I’ve learned new concepts and skills from my coworkers, both CRNAs and anesthesiologists, and I’ve enjoyed growing my abilities. I’m happy to have chosen nurse anesthesia, and I hope it’s happy it also chose me.