Is the Pain Worth it?


Its always nice to hear from former classmates and today was no exception.  Mel moved with her husband out to Florida after graduation and is now working and living it up in the Sun State with her husband.  While going through the “educational process” of becoming a CRNA here at the University of Southern California, all of the difficulties and seemingly unending struggles both in the classroom and in clinical rotations tend to dull the enthusiasm a bit.

Mel never lost here enthusiasm through loss of sleep and all the struggles SRNA’s go through.

Here is her letter to Dr. Michele Gold the program director at USC that puts it all in perspective:

Hi Dr Gold,

I just needed to drop you a quick line to Thank You and all of my preceptors and teachers at USC. As you know, I am out here in Florida, and it has been a real eye-opener as to the superior education and training that I have received at USC compared to (unfortunately) a lot of new graduates and students that I have come in contact with.  It has made me appreciate my “painful” two years even more….and I never thought Id say that Hope all is well with you and the program, we are loving our new life in Florida.


Its a good thing for current students and candidates to any nurse anesthesia program to hear the stories of others however brief.  During our time in “The Program” at USC Mel and I did struggle more than a few times with what seemed at the time to be unreasonable expectations.  To say that its tough to become a CRNA is a true statement.  Think about it.  Would you want some lazy inattentive provider giving anesthesia to your grandmother?  Wouldn’t you want the brightest most vigilant anesthetist with the experience to handle any difficulty during the anesthetic to be at the head of the bed.  That’s what all anesthesia providers strive for whether physician or nurse anesthetist.

A case in point.  Yesterday afternoon a gun shot wound victim was “RB’d” to the OR.  Three CRNA’s and a first year resident were on hand to start the case that very quickly required all the standard lines, arterial central and multiple large peripheral IV’s.  We began the case immediately when the guy arrived with a Level One rapid infuser in the room.  We ended the case the two Level One’s going for volume resuscitation, I was giving a lot of blood products.  After an hour and a half the surgeons were mopping up and the attending anesthesiologist walked back in the room and smiled saying what a great job we all had done. Thankfully these kind of cases are not common out in the community.  But here at the largest level one trauma center in Los Angele’s we see a variety of crazy things from massive trauma from train wrecks, car crashes and of course the “knife and gun” club action.

I am glad that the training we received has prepared us to handle these as well as the routine.

Categories : Student Life


  1. David Roy says:


    No one is saying that an intern is the one that is driving the show here and is held to the same standard as a seasoned physician. In the ICU if you compare atending physicians to seasoned nurses you have to know that the physician has more knowledge and understanding of what is happening with their patients.

    In the world of anesthesia care there are many levels to the experience that the providers bring to the table. I think this is where a lot of the confusion and conflict comes from. You can not compare a second year resident physician in an anesthesia program with a CRNA that has 30 or 40 years of experience. Neither can you compare a cardiac anesthesiologist with 25 years of experience with a new graduate CRNA. Obvious to me is that the educational background is important as well as the experience of the provider. I am not trying to make any point here other that we should respect each others practice and evaluate the results. In the end we all should get along. There certainly is room for both Nurse Anesthetists and Anesthesiologists.

    Personally, I really enjoy working in an anesthesia care team model. There are CRNA’s out there that work in a private setting or in a rural anesthesia setting that work totally independently. Good for them. The Country needs them. Don’t get your heels up because I work in an anesthesia care team model and like it. Neither should Anesthesiologists get offended when I defend the practice of CRNA’s. OK, enough said for now.

  2. Brett says:

    David, I am a 29 year old Acuteam Care NP. I am highly considering going to CRNA school. I currently work with a Pulmonary/Critical Care team. I saw that you are both an NP and CRNA. How long was it before you went to CRNA school afterms getting your NP? What was the deciding factor for you?

  3. Brett says:

    *Acute Care NP. Sorry for the abovery autocorrect.

  4. Murillo says:

    Highlighting Sandra’s very compelling aeurmgnt:• It is disappointing to me that any CRNA or member of NBCRNA would believe there are personal motives behind support of these bylaw amendments or would infer that any of us would do anything that was not in the best interest of you, the members of AANA.• I therefore believe that your most precious asset, the CRNA credential, is in jeopardy as it may in the future be dictated by a self-elected board of eleven with no voice from you through AANA.• They are self-selected and self-appointed with no input from the profession as to which CRNA will be placed on the NBCRNA. As such, they are accountable to no one except the external agencies (National Commission for Certifying Agencies and Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification) that recognize them, and they can change requirements for recertification at any time without a voice from the members they recertify.• I believe this bylaw is needed to create a pathway to restore rightful checks and balances between the NBCRNA and the AANA; the voice of the members. The AANA is the standard-setting body of the profession. The NBCRNA has a very narrowly defined role DELEGATED to them by the profession and their authority is not self-ordained. It seems to me by recent actions taken, that the NBCRNA is much like an island unto itself. In order to restore balance, the bridge must be restored between AANA and NBCRNA which will reestablish a healthy environment for the future of the profession.Thank you for your sharing your perspective, very powerful !!!


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