Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program

Wallena M. Gould, CRNA, MSN, who currently works at South Jersey Health System in New Jersey, founded and chaired the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program (DNAMP) in 2008. The program is designed to inform, empower and mentor underserved minority populations with information to prepare for a successful career in nurse anesthesia.

While at La Salle University, Gould noticed a lack of minority faculty in nurse anesthesia programs and according to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), less than six percent of the nurse anesthesia workforce is considered a minority. This prompted Gould to start a local mentorship program for minority nurse anesthesia students. The DNAMP now has a membership represented across 42 nurse anesthesia programs in 20 states and Puerto Rico.

This non-profit organization provides many informational opportunities for minority nursing students interested in anesthesia. With offerings ranging from informational sessions, visits to historically black colleges and universities' schools of nursing and urban junior/senior high schools, and anesthesia workshops, the program is reaching out in many ways to bring more minority nurse anesthetists into the specialty.

For more information about the program, visit www.DiversityCRNA.org.

Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future and Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program Name Nurse Scholarship Winners

The Campaign recently partnered with the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy (UZIT) program, founded by fashion designer Donna Karan, to engage and focus nurses on their own well-being and personal health, as well as to help train their peers. The Campaign awarded four scholarships to the year-long UZIT program to qualified nurses interested in integrative modalities and therapies. UZIT students are trained in five modalities of treatment: yoga therapy, Reiki, essential oil therapy, nutrition and contemplative care.

Congratulations to the scholarship winners!

  • Debra Cappock-Clegg, RN, Four Winds Hospital, Ketonah, N.Y.
  • Patti Heidmann, RN, Four Winds Hospital, Ketonah, N.Y.
  • Liz Lattuga, RN, Southhampton Hospital, Eastern Long Island, N.Y.
  • Jennifer Owens, RN, Emory Hospital, Atlanta, Ga.
“I have found the power of touch to be incredibly healing for my patients, and it is so profoundly simple,” Cappock-Clegg says. “I am looking forward to learning so much more through the UZIT program and I thank the Campaign for giving me the opportunity to participate.”

Throughout the 12-month program, we will be following our scholarship winners through their UZIT journey, so stay tuned for updates throughout the year here and on our Facebook Page!


Applications Due for the HRSA Nursing Scholarship Program

The deadline for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Nursing Scholarship Program (NSP) is coming up on June 1.

This program provides scholarships to nursing students in exchange for a minimum two-year full-time service commitment (or part-time equivalent) at an eligible healthcare facility that is experiencing a critical shortage of nurses. The program provides support for nursing school tuition and fees, an annual payment for other reasonable costs to cover expenses for books, clinical supplies and instruments and monthly stipends to cover living expenses. For more information or to apply for the scholarship, visit www.hrsa.gov.

National Nurses Week 2011 in Review

Each May, National Nurses Week is a time dedicated to recognizing and honoring nurses nationwide for the amazing work they do all year long. Beginning each year on May 6 (also known as National Nurses Day) and ending May 12 on the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, the week is meant to call attention to our society’s caregivers on a greater level.

During National Nurses Week 2011, the Campaign for Nursing’s Future took the opportunity to thank and recognize nurses for their continued dedication and passion with several new and exciting initiatives. Visit the “Thank A Nurse” section on the Nursing Notes by Johnson & Johnson Facebook Fan Page to check out the new resources for nurses that the Campaign introduced during National Nurses Week.

Happy Birthday to the Nursing Notes by Johnson & Johnson Facebook Page!

One year ago, the Campaign for Nursing's Future launched the Nursing Notes by Johnson & Johnson Facebook Page! Thanks to all of our fans for your support over the last year to make our page a destination for nurses everywhere.

Over the last year, we’ve added new assets to the page, like the Nursing Notes tab, to provide even more exclusive access to Nursing Notes content in addition to our monthly issues. All episodes of our podcast series, Nursing Notes Live, are also available now on Facebook. Our newest digital assets from the “Thank A Nurse” initiative are now available in the “Thank A Nurse” section on our Facebook Page.

If you’re already a fan, leave us a comment on our wall and let us know what Facebook features you like and what you’d like to see on our Page in the future. If you haven’t visited our page yet, check us out and “like” us today!

5 Ways to “Thank A Nurse”

In the spirit of our new “Thank A Nurse” initiative, we encourage you to take a moment to thank a nurse colleague today! Here are a few fun ways to say, “Thanks,” from Forbes.com!

1. Give a hug.
A genuine warm hug is a simple way to show your appreciation.

2. Write a personal note.
However simple, a heartfelt message can go a long way.

3. Send a note up the chain of command.
Sending a heartfelt message is great, but you can take it a step further and share your kind words with a supervisor or boss to let them know how much you appreciate your colleague.

4. Make a homemade gift.
If you make a mean batch of brownies or you’re feeling crafty, make something to show your appreciation. This personal touch appreciation can make a token of sentiment even more special.

5. Post it on Facebook.
Leave a word of thanks on the Nursing Notes by Johnson & Johnson Facebook Fan Page wall, and tag your friends or colleagues. Check out the other expressions of gratitude from fans on the wall, too!

Wellness Programs Are Key for Nurse Anesthetists

Many nurse anesthetists use outlets for coping with stress like the AANA Wellness Program.

An April 2011 study published in the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) Journal, “Stress and Burnout in Nurse Anesthesia,” surveyed about 7,500 AANA members ranging from staff Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA), associate members (students), administrators and educators. The study found that staff CRNAs were most satisfied with their jobs, but nurse anesthesia students and educators were the most stressed of all working in the nurse anesthesia specialty.

The survey results were consistent with previous research findings about the stressful environment of anesthesiology. It also emphasized the need for resources to assist practitioners with positive mechanisms to manage their stress.

One resource that many nurse anesthetists and students use to ensure their personal well-being is the AANA Wellness Program. Established in 2004, the program is dedicated to developing and implementing functional strategies for health promotion and the elements of wellness, balance and self care. The program raises awareness by educating students and nurse anesthetists about the importance of self care and how it can ultimately lead to better patient care.

Terry Wicks, CRNA, chair of the Wellness Program and former AANA president said, "It's our responsibility to give our members the proper information about wellness; to make their lives and careers more rewarding. "Wicks mentioned several components of the program aimed to teach better stress-management skills including, lectures at association meetings; a “Wellness Milestone” section in the news bulletin (AANA newsletter) that highlights several useful techniques for members every month; and the development of a stress-management curriculum for nurse anesthesia students.

The online survey, conducted by the AANA, found that 93 percent of educators, administrators, staff CRNAs and military CRNAs are reported to be “satisfied” to “extremely satisfied” with their careers. The stress portion of the survey identified that the least stressed group were staff nurse anesthetists and the most stressed group were nurse anesthesia students. However 90 percent of students reported that their stress was due to school.

Echoing these results, Timothy Holt Smith, CRNA, nurse anesthetist at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, Md., agrees with the findings. “Being a student is the hardest part,” Smith says. “The majority of these students are highly motivated and at the top of their games when entering the program. They enter the profession with very high expectations and realize that there is a lot to learn. From the vast amounts of information, to dexterity and judgment skills, all of these factors can cause students a lot of stress. But once they make it into the specialty, they really enjoy their careers.”

The AANA study concluded that stress management education should really begin in school. Many of the students are older, with families and other obligations, and they are under substantial pressure to perform well in a complex and competitive environment. These factors may lead to starting a career with physical and emotional stress, which can be a factor in career dissatisfaction.

“Nurse anesthetists spend countless hours dedicated to the workplace where they are constantly exposed to environmental work stressors,” says Sandra Tunajek, CRNA, DNP, former executive director of the Council for Public Interest in Anesthesia. “Studies show that protracted stress has significant physical and mental consequences for healthcare professionals that can affect health, sometimes to the point of disability, thus affecting patient care.” The study also indicated that the many techniques that AANA members use as coping mechanisms include exercise, getting support from others, finding “me” time, playing with a favorite pet, reading and connecting with one’s “spiritual” self. Smith says, “If you learn ways to deal with stress, your whole being will be better.”

Wicks agreed stating, "It's important for all CRNAs and students to get good nutrition and sleep." He also highlighted the importance of work life balance, "nurses need to carve out time for their families. Make it their time together and don't make any exceptions."

In an effort to provide more stress management resources, the Campaign is offering “From 'Distress' to 'De-stress' with Stress Management,” a complimentary CE course in partnership with Nurse.com for nurses and Happy Nurse™, a fun nursing-themed online game and mobile application designed to help nurses decompress, unwind and have some fun.

To find the AANA Wellness Center online, visit www.aana.com.

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Nurse anesthetists are also responsible for preoperative and postoperative care.

Nurse Anesthetists Provide Comfort and Care to Surgical Patients

As the oldest nursing specialty in the United States, the field of nurse anesthesia has seen many changes throughout the years. Not only is the demand for nurse anesthetists increasing, but the practice of nurse anesthesia is also experiencing changes in regulation from state to state and advances that are shaping the future of the field.

“One of the big factors in the future of this field is that the technology changes very quickly,” says Nickie Damico, MSNA, CRNA, assistant professor and director of professional practice at the Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Nurse Anesthesia in Richmond, Va. “Nurse anesthesia is a highly technical field. I’ve only been a CRNA for 12 years and some technologies that came out when I began school are now obsolete.”

As a result, Damico says professors are challenged to teach students to not only rely on workplace technology, but to also remember the importance of core nursing skills.

“We tell them, ‘look at your patients and listen to your gut,’” Damico says. “Put your hands on the patient – really look at the patient, not the monitor.”

According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), nurse anesthetists are advanced practice nurses and are required to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing or another appropriate baccalaureate degree, Registered Nurse licensure, a minimum of one year acute care experience and the successful completion of both an accredited nurse anesthesia educational program and the certification examination.

According to the American Medical Group Association (AMGA), the median annual salary for nurse anesthetists is $157,724, which is higher than many other nursing specialties. The nurse anesthesia specialty also has a greater number of men practicing than the nursing profession as a whole. While 42 percent of nurse anesthetists are men, only 10 percent of all nurses are men.

In this field, nurse anesthetists collaborate with an anesthesia team, which often includes other nurse anesthetists and an anesthesiologist. However in some areas, such as rural cities and states that do not require anesthesiologist supervision, nurse anesthetists can sometimes be the sole deliverer of anesthesia. In addition to delivering anesthesia, they are responsible for educating patients about the procedure and their options for treatment.

“Patients are now coming to us more educated,” Damico says. “Before their procedures, they’re watching similar surgeries on YouTube or they’ve read information online that may or may not be correct. It’s great that they’re more informed before going under anesthesia, but we also have to make sure we educate them properly against some of the inaccuracies that also come with greater access to information.”

The role of the nurse anesthetist also includes evaluating patients preoperatively and determining whether they are a good candidate for anesthesia.  Nurse anesthetists review the patient’s medical history and perform a physical exam to assess the patient’s risk for anesthesia.  Conducting patient interviews and obtaining a detailed medical history allow the anesthesia team to devise a good plan of care for before, during and after the procedure.  

During the procedure, nurse anesthetists are responsible for delivering the anesthetic, monitoring the patient closely and intervening in case of side effects.  The nurse anesthetist stays with the patient until it is safe to transfer care of the patient to the post-anesthesia care unit nurse.   

“As a nurse anesthetist, you absolutely need good communication skills and the ability to establish a good rapport in a critical time,” Damico says. “Even though nurse anesthetists can sometimes be a sole anesthesia provider, we still work with a team to care for someone and must always be a team leader in what can sometimes be a crisis situation.”

Although nurse anesthetists are often exposed to stressful situations, Damico says this career is incredibly rewarding and that most of her colleagues will agree.

“You’ll rarely meet a nurse anesthetist who doesn’t love their job,” Damico says. “It is ultimately satisfying to work with such an enthusiastic group of colleagues to care for patients at a sometimes scary time, and to be a source of healing and comfort.”

For more information about careers in nurse anesthesia, visit www.discovernursing.com.

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Get to Know...
Donald Wood, ARNP, CRNA,
Nurse Anesthetist at South Broward Endoscopy Center, Cooper City, Fla.

Q: When did you decide to pursue a career in nursing and why?

I was a volunteer fireman while I attended high school in Jacksonville, Fla. This was in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The world of emergency medicine was emerging from advanced first-aid and going into advanced medical practices. In my mind, I saw registered nurses as being the logical choice to begin staffing this emerging field of pre-hospital medicine. When I graduated from high school I applied for nursing school at Florida Junior College at Jacksonville, Fla. and graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Technical Nursing in August of 1973. Though emergency medicine took a different route than what I imagined (EMTs and paramedics), I have never regretted one moment of my 38 years in nursing.

Q: What advice would you offer to nurses interested in nurse anesthesia?

Pursue your dream! While anesthesia training has changed significantly since I trained in 1975, the basics still apply. Contact the schools that you wish to attend and find out what they are looking for in your nursing experience. Working with ventilators and invasive monitoring systems are a big plus for any applicant to a CRNA program.

As for the future of nurse anesthesia, it is bright. Surveys show that there is a large number of CRNAs who are approaching the age that they will want to retire. Changes in the healthcare system will also require nurse practitioners to provide care for the growing number of patients and the emergence of the baby boomers who are approaching their ‘golden years.’

Most of all, never forget that you are a nurse. I am often asked, ‘what is the difference between an anesthesiologist and a nurse anesthetist?’ After all, we both do the same work and achieve the same results. My response is that I approach things from a nursing point of view. To me, this means considering the whole patient (and their family) – body and mind. Talking to an anxious patient to discern and address the reason for their anxiety is often more effective than masking that anxiety through the use of medications. Patients notice the difference when they are viewed as an individual.

Q: What was one of the greatest moments of your career?

I worked in labor and delivery for 17 years in Jacksonville, Fla. I came in one morning to hear that there was a young patient, pregnant with twins, who was sent to the ICU with pulmonary edema, and that she might need a C-section. Before the off-going CRNA could leave, the patient’s condition deteriorated drastically and she was sent to us for an emergency C-section. It’s always nice to have extra hands available when trouble strikes and this was no different. After the patient was put under general anesthesia, she went into cardiac arrest. This was only the second time that I have done CPR in the operating room. With the speed of a skillful surgeon and the support of a great CRNA/MD anesthesia team we were able to effectively deliver the two babies and successfully resuscitate the mother. It was a fantastic day when that patient came back to visit us several months later to show us her two young babies! Though I can’t mention her name, I still remember it 10 years later.

My greatest personal moment of my career is when I attended the graduation ceremony of my daughter, Heather, from Jacksonville University with her BSN (she is now a nurse practitioner). As a child, she would often ask me why I had to leave home in the middle of the night to go to work. Once when she was about six years old, she asked me what I did for a living. I replied that I was a nurse. She told me that mommy was a nurse, and that I was a doctor. I had to correct her in the fact that both mommy and daddy were nurses.

Q: How has nursing impacted your life?

Nursing has allowed me to come into the lives of many people and make a profound difference during a very stressful time. I have kept every card and letter sent to me from former patients. Whether it is delivering an epidural for pain relief in a laboring mother or calming the fears of a patient who is worried that they won’t wake up after surgery, the nurse anesthetist can provide that extra bit of care that only nurses can provide.

The changes in nursing since the early 1970s have provided me with tremendous opportunities. When I became an RN, the choice of work settings was either the hospital or a doctor’s office. Nurses today have a wide range of work settings to choose from. Today, I own a contract anesthesia company and have written a book – The Intelligent Nurse. Compared to the 1970s, nursing in this century is wide open. The only limits that a nurse has today are the limits they place on themselves.

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