Featured Providers

Meet the providers featured here on My CRNA Life.

 

Dr. Charnelle Lewis, CRNA

A love of pharmacology led this CRNA to choose a career in anesthesia. She found her niche in plastics but soon evolved to so much more. Find out how entrepreneurship launched her career into exciting new directions.

Click HERE to read more!

Instagram: www.instagram.com/justcharnelle 

Website: www.nursenelle.com 

Business website: www.presynapse.com 

Clubhouse: @charnelle

 

Amanda Kay MSN, CRNA

From student to mentor. This CRNA is full of helpful tips for SRNAs and aspiring CRNAs.

Click HERE to read more!

Instagram @akay17

FB Page: The Surviving and Thriving SRNA

Charlie Huynh, AN, CPT, CRNA

From caring for wounded soldiers to a deployment to Iraq, find out how the military shaped this CRNA’s career.

Click HERE to read more!

Email me at ch1218@gmail.com

Morgan Patel MSN, CRNA

Going through a pregnancy during CRNA school had its own set of challenges. Find out how Morgan overcame these challenges and thrived in CRNA school. 

Click HERE to read more!

Morgan Patel MSN, CRNA

Feel free to email me!  morganmpatel@gmail.com

 

How long have you been practicing? 1.5 years 
Do you work in a care team model or as an independent practitioner? Independent practitioner
Why did you choose to pursue nurse anesthesia? I had an intense love for pharmacology.  Starting as a pharmacy major, I switched to nursing after realizing that I wasn’t able to fulfil my passion within the career opportunities of the pharmaceutical industry. Briefly considering other advanced practice options, I had to ask myself whether I wanted to diagnose and treat or administer anesthesia.  The latter was more representative of my passions and aspirations.  I wanted to advance my education and build upon my critical care background.  For me, nurse anesthesiology was the best of both worlds.    
What was the most challenging thing about CRNA school? The biggest challenge for me wasn’t the academics, but the fact that I was stuck attempting to prove myself to others.  As the only black female nurse in the CVICU as well as the only one in my CRNA cohort, I constantly had to reiterate my credentials as patients didn’t believe my accomplishments. There was constant worry that I would be discriminated against.  Now that I’m done, I realized the internal fear and imposter syndrome propelled by racial anxiety was a barrier that I needed to tackle to learn to focus on myself and continue to create the self-esteem needed to flourish. 
What was the best advice you got as a student? The best advice I got as a student was if I didn’t believe in myself, I can at least believe in others’ belief that I can succeed. 
What advice do you have for SRNAs new to clinical? Remember the first day you stepped on the ICU?  You may have been intimidated, nervous, anxious, or worried. While the environment and the knowledge are new, that feeling isn’t.  You have to reframe that anxiety into a growth mindset.  I proved that I could begin in the ICU as a new graduate and become an excellent critical care nurse. I continued to put in the work so that I could be successful during anesthesia clinical.  You have to be willing to just begin and not allow your anxiety to be perceived as a threat, but a challenge that you’ll soon overcome. 
What attracted you to plastic surgery? I enjoyed the more intricate nature plastics required in relation to the anesthesia delivery.  The art of gently waking my patient up without a single cough intrigued me.  Every case poses new challenges where I’m learning new techniques and implementing them. 
How does plastics differ from the ‘traditional’ OR environment? Outpatient plastics is very different from the traditional OR environment in many aspects.  Your anesthesia delivery skills must be very fine-tuned to adjust to a fast turnover.  The capabilities of a stand-alone office can vary, but there’s no Pharmacy to make drips for you, or a blood bank.  We have to rely on our training and skills to be able to adjust to limited resources and learn new skills like running the cell saver machine.  As an independent provider, I am the one that tells the surgeon whether the case is safe to perform.  It is a lot of responsibility but provides an opportunity for growth on the clinical, professional and personal levels. 
What are the options available to CRNAs outside of the traditional care team model? There are several – the all CRNA model is a model staffed and directed by CRNAs.  This is also known as “independent practice.” The consultative model is a model where CRNAs are primarily staffed and the anesthesiologist serves as a consultant.  Lastly, the anesthesia medical direction model is a payment model according to specific Medicare rules.  The most prevalent model is the consultative model, or anesthesia care team model, where the physician anesthesiologist will serve as the consultant for more than one CRNA.
What are some of the challenges you have faced as a CRNA? Some of the major challenges that I’ve faced as a CRNA would be clinical situations that I had to solve.  I had a patient lose IV access mid-induction.  I had to quickly convert to an inhaled induction and secure the airway. 
Can you speak about your entrepreneurial ventures? I am the owner and founder of Synapse Consulting and a non-profit organization Anesthesia Alchemy.  Synapse consulting was established to assist nurses in their journey to CRNA school.  I assist with their resumes, essays and provide mock interview assistance.  My non-profit Anesthesia Alchemy is in the process of providing additional resources for nurses to make their CRNA application process a breeze.  Outside of my personal businesses, I also do a bit of options trading. 
What advice do you have for SRNAs and CRNAs looking to go into business for themselves? I would encourage any CRNA and SRNA to do their research when starting a business.  If you’re starting an LLC to provide anesthesia services as a 1099 employee, talk to a CPA to find the best tax strategy for you!  Also, keep your receipts and make sure you separate your business and personal income from the beginning!  

Also, don’t be afraid to start a business that isn’t anesthesia related!  If you have a passion for it and a solid business plan, use that CRNA income to jumpstart your additional endeavors. 

Is there anything else you would like to share? Becoming a CRNA is no easy task, but with the right mindset and intentions, it becomes a very rewarding career choice in the end. 

How long have you been practicing?

3 years

Do you work in a care team or as an independent practitioner?

Care Team Model but very autonomous practice

Why did you choose to pursue nurse anesthesia?

The hands on skills, the constant critical thinking and challenges, and the ability to focus on one patient at a time. I love the marriage of art and science.

What challenges did you face at the beginning of your career and how did you overcome them?

I had a patient code on emergence from anesthesia 6 months in & the reality that everyone in the room was looking to me for direction was overwhelming. You realize in moments like this that school is supposed to be hard. 

What are the most important things to consider when applying for a new CRNA job?

You have to know your priorities. You can’t have it all. Do you want high pay? Amazing benefits? Autonomy? An easy commute? Etc. You need to decide what’s a must for you and what you’re willing to compromise on. This will look different for everyone. 

What does it mean to work within your full scope of practice as a CRNA?

The ability to do everything you were trained to do. At my job the CRNA’S take in house call & we do central lines, Peripheral nerve blocks, OB, hearts, etc. Nothing is off the table for us. The hospital relies on us to provide all facets of care for patients. 

What advice do you have for ICU RNs interested in applying to CRNA school? What are important things to consider?

Become an EXCEPTIONAL nurse. Hone your skills, take the hard patients, join committees, precept, take on leadership roles. Build your toolbox. 

And create a plan EARLY on. Choose which schools you’d like to apply to, get to know their requirements and put dates on the calendar of when you will complete things like the GRE, CCRN etc. 

Don’t stop moving forward!

What was the best advice you got as a student?

“No one at clinical is coming home with you. Don’t get into politics & don’t take things personally. Learn, keep your head down & keep showing up.”

What are other options CRNAs have other than care team W2 employment?

So many things! You can open your own LLC or S corporation & work as an “independent contractor/1099.” There’s work in Podiatry offices, Plastic surgery offices, Surgi-centers, Endoscopy clincs etc. You can also work in Pain management doing pain procedures. And I know a lot of CRNA’s who have ventured into Botox, etc. 

What do you like most about being a CRNA?

The critical thinking, the flexibility, the fun of “mixing” up drug cocktails/pharmacology, the hands-on skills…Such a challenging and fun profession. 

How long have you been practicing?

I have been practicing for a little over 4 years.

Do you work in a care team or as an independent practitioner?

I work in a care team at a Level 1 Trauma Center.

Why did you pursue nurse anesthesia?

The functions of the human body and the effects of the environment, drugs, and genetics on humans never failed to catch my high interest. With the challenges I overcame during my time in the Army, I found myself wanting to be in an environment where I could do more. When I was ending my career in the Army, I was looking for the next phase and challenge in my life. Advancing my nursing career into the field of Anesthesia was a perfect choice for me.

Could you talk about your time in the military?

My actual nursing career began at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the premier hospital of the Army Medical Department (AMEDD). I worked in the Intermediate Care Unit (IMCU), a step-down from the ICU’s where we received the majority of the wounded from Afghanistan and Iraq. From gunshot wounds to Traumatic Brain Injuries’ to quadruple amputations, I've seen it all and took care of it all. Taking care of these wounded soldiers from all walks of life just re-affirmed my decision and commitment to join the Army Nurse Corp. Two years into working on the IMCU, I decided to further my education by completing the Army Nurse Corp Critical Care Course, which was a 16-week course that prepared me to take care of critically ill patients in a variety of critical care settings. It was during that course that I gained a better appreciation of physiology and pharmacology. Upon completion, I started working in the combined Medical and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Walter Reed. One year into my critical care experience I was deployed.

Deployment is one those life experiences I will never forget. One of the greatest challenges in this environment is providing safe care to the patient with unfamiliar equipment and supplies that seemed to always be in short supply. However, you learn to adapt in these situations to provide the best care for your patients. During my time there, a CRNA I deployed with hosted a lecture series about anesthesia and it was at this time my interest in the field of anesthesia sparked.

How did your military service affect your journey to becoming a CRNA (pros/cons)?

I owe a lot to my military service in helping me achieve my goals in becoming a CRNA. My experience and the training I received in the Army has help me adapt to very difficult and stressful situations that we see in the OR everyday as CRNAs. I was also blessed to be able to use my 9/11 GI Bill to help pay for anesthesia school.

What advice do you have for SRNAs who are interested in pursuing nurse anesthesia through the military?

The world is changing every day. There are always new challenges facing our country at any given moment from natural disasters to pandemics. In a moment's notice you can receive orders that can upend your life. You have to be able to adapt and be flexible. I don’t want to sound cliché but I am proud to have had the calling to serve for something greater than myself. With that said, I believe pursuing nurse anesthesia through the military is a great way to achieve it but it’s not for everyone. It can be a long journey.

What advice do you have for SRNAs new to clinical?

Be prepared for anything the day can throw at you. Look up your cases beforehand and be prepared to be asked anything. Be patient. Be receptive to criticism and learning. Acknowledge your deficiencies and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Show your preceptors and everyone else that you want to be there. Have a good attitude.

What was the best advice you got as a student?

“No matter how well you're prepared for the day there will always be that one case that will test your fortitude. You will have to rely on your training and experience to get you through it. Every day is a learning experience.”

What do you like most about being a CRNA?

Every day is something different. I can be doing bread and butter cases one day, then do nothing but traumas the next, then the next day go to an outpatient GI center. Every day I am learning something new in regards to my anesthetic. I like that I am always challenged at work.

What are some of the challenges you face as a CRNA?

Every day there will always be a set of challenges I face. For instance, making sure I have all the information I need from a patient to safely administer anesthesia, making sure I give the correct dosages of drugs, making sure I have all the equipment I need to successfully manage an airway. There is a constant need to stay up to date with the latest research in anesthesia.

What advice do you have for an aspiring CRNA?

If becoming a CRNA is goal you want, go for it. Shadow a CRNA. Get your CCRN. Be the best ICU nurse you can be. Never stop learning.

How long have you been practicing?

One month

Do you work in a care team or as an independent practitioner?

Care Team

Why did you pursue nurse anesthesia?

I knew I wanted to be an advanced practice provider and nurse anesthesia had the best mix of chemistry, autonomy, and critical care.  Also, I wanted to leave my work and be able to focus on my home life when I left work; being a nurse anesthetist allows me to do that.

What was the biggest challenge for you during school and how did you overcome it?

I think life provided challenges to school.  My now husband started his fellowship 6 months after I started anesthesia school (8 hour drive away).  We moved, got married, pregnant, and had a baby all while in school.  To get through each challenge, we would take things one day at a time.  Looking too far forward seemed overwhelming and unmanageable but I could always seem to manage one more day.

How was your experience different being pregnant during school? 

Being pregnant faces its own physical and emotional challenges.  When you combine that to intense clinicals and didactic program, it can feel overwhelming at times.  I put a lot of pressure on myself to be better at things so that no one could say anything negative about me being pregnant. I found some people were very supportive and encouraging, while others were opinionated about pregnancy during school.  So, I pushed myself to be better, study harder, and surround myself with those who supported and encouraged me.  I went back to clinical 7 weeks after my son was born so that I would graduate and take boards on time. It was difficult going back to clinical, but I knew that after graduation and passing boards I would be able to spend all summer with him.

What advice do you have for SRNAs who go through a pregnancy during school?

I would say that it’s hard, but be kind to yourself, especially when others might not be.  You are allowed to have a life outside of school.  You got into school because you are a highly motivated, intelligent nurse.  Don’t forget that and never lose sight of your goals.  I set aside time each day to study, even after my son was born, so as to never get behind.  You’ll figure out what works for you and stick to it.  Also, sleep when the baby sleeps or whenever you can! I’m still catching up on sleep to this day!

What advice do you have for SRNAs new to clinical?

Take a deep breath.  You can do this.  Come up with a system or checklist as you start in the OR to make your tasks a routine.  Once they have become second nature, you’ll be able to do more critical thinking.  If at first you don’t succeed at something, ask for help/advice/tricks and tips. Set a goal for the day and tell your preceptor, like working on mask ventilation. Read, read, read and ask questions!

What was the best advice you got as a student?

Listen to the sounds of the OR.  You can learn so much about what is going on without even looking at the patient.  Pulse-ox tone, rate, and rhythm, field suction, surgeon’s tone of voice, etc. 

How did you prepare for boards?

I set aside time every morning to do study questions.  I would take an exam or two and identify areas of weakness.  At night, once my son was asleep, I would review the areas of weakness.  Rinse and repeat.

What do you like most about being a CRNA?

I love that each patient provides its own set of challenges.  I like tailoring my anesthetic plan to mitigate those challenges and meet the needs of my patients.  And I LOVE leaving my work at work!

What are some of the challenges you face as a CRNA?

I’m working in a different state from where I trained and I knew no one when I started, so part of the challenge is learning a different work culture, personalities, and patient population.  I’m also a new graduate, so I’m challenged with trusting my gut and finding my voice in the OR, shaking off the rust and providing the anesthetic care that I was trained to provide.

What advice do you have for an aspiring CRNA?

Set your goal and stick to it.  You can do this.  It just takes hard work and perseverance.  You’ve got what it takes.  You didn’t get this far without it.