Exam Time

Sad, but true.

I'm back. Again.

I have no excuse for not posting for, like, a billion years.  Well, I have some excuses.  For example, I've been busy doing the following:

Traveling to Boston for the AANA Annual Meeting where I:
Addressed other SRNAs

Dressed up like a Mad Scientist (along with my fellow members of the AANA Education Committee) for the College Bowl, where my classmate, Anne Marie Sommerville, was on the winning team!

Participated in a 5K with my classmates

Passed my Student Representative duties on to the very capable Emma Bachelder (a Baptist SRNA herself!)

and quenched my thirst alongside my grad school buddies:

I then...
Graduated from Nurse Anesthesia School:

Where I was honored to receive the Chal Maree Award

Passed the board exam (!!) and moved to great state of:

Got hitched to the love of my  life:

Moved back to the even GREATER state of:

Began work as a full-fledged CRNA complete with amazingly gorgeous staff photo

Tried out for the Carolina Roller Girls roller derby team

And enjoyed TWO Christmases: The first with my hubster's family and the other with my family, who we hosted at our house in NC.  It was totes fun.

So that's where I've been.  Now that anesthesia school is behind me I doubt I'll be posting to the blog on a consistent basis (This is a blog about being an SRNA, after all...)  But I will be back from time to time to post on pertinent topics.  Though, to be perfectly honest, I'll proably post on non-pertinent topics as well.  Like riding buffalos, for example:

A Note To Myself

Tomorrow I graduate from anesthesia school.  


It's been a long road. One that began in 2004 with a corporate retail job that I hated, which led me to register for and Anatomy and Physiology course on practically a whim. Close to 8 years and a LOT of loans later, I hold a nursing degree in one hand and am ready to accept my graduate degree in the other.  Screw intelligence, creativity, and skill... Persistence is where it's at, people!

I've been slowly packing up my apartment over the past week or so and came across a letter that I wrote on the first day of anesthesia school. Our assignment was to pen an encouraging letter to ourselves, which would be returned by our program administrators at the half-way point in school.  I think it's just as fitting now, so I've rewritten it below.  For those of you who are reading this and still in anesthesia school - or at any stage of the game, for that matter - I hope this helps you along on your quest.

August 26, 2009

Wow... you are half-way there! As you look back on your life over the past 12 months, I don't doubt that you'll remember the many hardships and struggles you've had to overcome. While this is expected, I want you to remember two things: 1. You have to pay to play!  The difficulties you face now are signs of the rewards you'll reap as a member of a profession you are passionate about. 2. Life, regardless of where you're at or what you're doing at the time, is full of stressors.  Being an SRNA is a roller coaster ride, but at least you have trustworthy operators, a great group of fellow passengers, and can see the end of the track. Despite the inevitable ups and downs of anesthesia school, this is exactly where you want to be.

... Now, go out there and make me proud!

Your Past Self

Thanks for a great year!

Well, I'm headed to Boston to meet with the Education Committee for the last time.  To my classmates, faculty, fellow members of the AANA Education Committee, and all the amazing SRNAs I've had the opportunity to meet and get to know over the past year: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve our profession.  It's been an honor and a pleasure!

[Quote via I Can Read]

July Article

Below is this months Student News article in the AANA NewsBulletin.  I apparently created quite the commotion last month, so we'll see what this month's article will bring...

Join the Club: The Benefits of AANA Membership

In June of 1931, Agatha Hodgins, along with 47 of her fellow nurse anesthetists, founded the first national organization of anesthesia providers in the United States.  The National Association for Nurse Anesthetists (NANA) was incorporated the following year and in 1939 was renamed the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA).  Today, over 40,000 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists practice in the United States and upwards of 90% of those individuals belong to the AANA.  This solidarity has given nurse anesthetists a powerful voice in the medical community and on Capitol Hill.  The profession has prospered as a result and every member of the AANA, through their membership fees and charitable contributions, has played a vital role in its success.

Now, I don’t need to tell a bunch of full-time graduate students how important money is; life reminds us of that fact on a nearly daily basis.  But money is just as important to the health of a professional organization as it is to a struggling SRNA.  Why?  Al Pacino, playing the role of Tony Montana in the film Scarface, said it best: "In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power.”  In other words, our professional association must remain financially strong in order to successfully promote and advocate for CRNAs across the country.  The AANA relies heavily on annual membership dues to accomplish this goal.

The AANA Student Membership Fee is something you may give little thought to paying each year while in school.  After all, $100 seems relatively insignificant compared to the amount of money we anesthesia students spend on books and tuition.  After a while it’s like, “just put it on my tab!”  Nevertheless, this may change once our student years are behind us since, as new graduates, we will be focused on reducing – instead of rapidly accumulating – our loan debt.  It’s therefore important that we understand exactly how our AANA membership dues are being utilized so that we fully appreciate the importance of our yearly contribution and continue to support our professional organization for the duration of our careers.

Breakdown of dues
Unlike student dues, all of which go directly to the AANA, CRNA member dues are divided among a handful of professional initiatives.  Of the $645 collected from each AANA member on a yearly basis, 36% is returned to individual state associations to help fund the necessary components of an effective professional organization at the state-level.  State associations are vital to the overall health of our profession, as these organizations stay abreast of the local issues affecting CRNA practice within their borders.  State associations are thus able to quickly take action when needed as well as alert the AANA of any political or practice issues that require the attention of our national organization.  The AANA also offers assistance to state associations with special financial needs by allocating an additional 10% of membership dues to the State Organizational Development/Strategic Reserve Fund.

Thirty percent of all membership fees collected by the AANA are used for advocacy of the nurse anesthesia profession.  This goal is accomplished in a variety of ways.  For example, the AANA strives to heighten awareness of the profession through national public relations campaigns that educate the public on the role and value of nurse anesthetists.  Practicing CRNAs are provided with informational brochures and videotapes to educate their patients on this topic if desired.  The AANA also strives to improve the quality and safety of the practice of anesthesia by supporting the CRNA credentialing process and establishing standards and guidelines for practice.

One way that the AANA accomplishes this goal is by providing members with a variety of opportunities to earn the 40 hours of continuing education (CE) credits needed to qualify for bi-annual CRNA recertification.  The association maintains the CE records of each CRNA as an additional service to its members.  In addition to educational growth, these conferences and workshops improve career satisfaction by providing members with the opportunity to travel to new cities and network with other CRNAs.  The AANA advocates for student members as well.  The organization funds student scholarships, procures government financial aid money for nurse anesthesia students, and hosts faculty development programs.  Other services provided by the AANA, such as professional liability insurance, online educational opportunities, and support for CRNA-led research, are listed on the Member Benefits page of the AANA website.

While educating the public of the value of nurse anesthetists is a top priority of the AANA, the association also works diligently to ensure that its members remain informed clinically, academically, and politically.  This is accomplished via events such as the AANA Annual Meeting, electronic mailings, and various publications.  The cost of printing and distributing information (like the AANA NewsBulletin you’re currently engrossed in) accounts for 9% of the $645 annual membership fee.

Lastly, the remaining 15% of member dues are applied towards the administrative management costs incurred by the Chicago and Washington, D.C. offices of the AANA.  Anyone who has visited the AANA website, attended the Mid-Year Assembly in Washington, D.C., or registered for an AANA-sponsored event has benefitted from the services provided by these offices.  I have personally interacted with a number of individuals employed at both locations through my work with the AANA Education Committee and am convinced that our staff is the best around! 

For over 80 years the AANA has served to protect and promote the work of nurse anesthetists.  The organization offers student and practicing CRNAs opportunities to learn, travel, and network with others.  More importantly, it has created a profession that is greater than the sum of its parts and, in doing so, has given CRNAs a powerful and united voice within the healthcare community and world at large.  This collective strength has led to many political victories and professional advancements for CRNAs since Agatha Hodgins and her colleagues first established the organization.  Nonetheless, more challenges loom on the horizon.  We must face these challenges head-on by investing in our profession as members of the AANA following graduation.  Only then can we safeguard the health of our patients and the nurse anesthesia profession.

Stick a Fork in Me

I'm done!  I passed my comprehensive final and have in my possession an evaluation form, signed by the Program Director, stating that I've completed the requirements of the Baptist Nurse Anesthesia Program and will be eligible to sit for the certification exam following our graduation on August 14th.  That means no more lectures or tests ever again!  Clearly, Adam is more sad about this fact that am I, as evidenced by the way he gazed longingly at his desk through the window of our classroom before leaving the program office.

"It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times." - Me... and ol' Chuck Dickens

Next up on my to-do list:
- Find a job*
- Find a place to live
- Graduate
- Move
- Study for and pass the board exam
- Finish Season 3 of Sons of Anarchy with my girl, Annie*
- Plan a wedding
- Write my final Student Representative article and speech for the AANA Annual Meeting

* My priorities

Quote of the Day

Our Comprehensive Final Exam begins in exactly 1 hour.  I think the quote stated above is fitting for today, wouldn't you agree?