The Shadow Knows


The Shadow2The “Shadow” experience for potential nurse anesthetist students is one of the critical preparatory moves that anyone interested in the field of nurse anesthesia must take before deciding that this is “it”.  What better way for a person to find out if this is a field that they would like to be a part of and be able to adapt to than to spend a day with a nurse anesthetist.  The experience in the operating room Shadowing a provider taking care of patients will not only demonstrate what we do in dramatic fashion but give the potential nurse anesthetist candidate an opportunity to be challenged to be more – way more.  That’s what “The Shadow” knows.

Before the immersion process into anesthesia practice many of us had assumptions about what the world of anesthesia care is and what it takes to be a nurse anesthetist. Its only by being in the mix can it be demonstrated.  It’s only my opinion now – every one has their place in the world where they can be their best and do good work.  Where is it for you? For me its in the operating room giving kind attentive care with anesthesia and mentoring others to do the same.  Only you will be able to know if this a field that you have enough passion and drive to sustain you in order to attain the necessary skills to excel as an anesthesia provider in today’s world.

Here are a few comments from two “Shadow Experiences”.  What will yours be?

Dear David,
My observation experience was pivotal in understanding the dynamic practice of a CRNA and increased that a fire in my belly pursuit for this field of nursing.  The moment I met Kari Cole, I was greeted with warmth and welcomed to the new state of the art LAC + USC Medical Center facility.  I met various individuals on my observation day such as the anesthesia attending Dr. Leipzig, and CRNAs Charlotte Garcia and David Godden.  Everyone was extremely friendly and receptive to my presence in the OR department.  The CRNAs that I met enjoyed teaching and it proved to be a great learning experience for me.

Through speaking with David, I learned about the goals of anesthesia and received a mini lesson on respiratory physiology.  Thanks David for taking the time to teach and give advice to me.  I spent the morning and afternoon shadowing Charlotte Garcia CRNA and gained further insight into the CRNA profession.  She provided a holistic approach to the plan of care starting with a very thorough preoperative work up that included a review of history and physical, consents, labs, EKG, x-ray films, and assessment of the patient.  CRNAs possess exceptional knowledge and astute skills which enables them to respond to the dynamic patient changes in the operating room.  On this particular day, I saw those attributes come into play as the Charlotte demonstrated diligence with induction, intubation, and positioning of the patient.  During surgery, she manipulated various medications and fluids to maintain hemodynamic stability and to ultimately achieve the goals of anesthesia.

I learned a plethora of new and interesting concepts from Charlotte such as MAC, calculating blood loss, and reversal agents.  I also received advice about the educational rigors and expectations of the USC Program of Anesthesia.  While in the OR, Kari and Charlotte taught me about anesthesia and the elderly, an approach that is unique because geriatric patients respond to anesthesia very differently than adult patients.  I would like to thank everyone for taking the time to teach me about the CRNA profession.  My shadowing experience was extremely positive and I hope to return to this facility for another observation day in the near future.

Mabel RN

Thank you Mable.  You were terrific and I am looking forward to seeing your application and encouraging you during the interview process.  Mabel demonstrated the attributes that potential candidates need to succeed.  Good luck and keep the fire burning.

Here is another letter I received and held back a couple of weeks trying to figure out what to do with it.  Should I edit it a bit….Hmmmmm.  In the end here it is – another example of work from a great candidate that idealizes so many of the great qualities of nurse anesthesia practice; attentiveness to detail, patience and sound judgment.  Lisa I am looking forward to seeing you again and I know that you will do well what ever program you choose to join.  The only reason I held back on posting your letter without editing is that it seemed a little too much about me which I do not want.  So here it is.


It was a true pleasure meeting you, The Average Man, behind the making of a terrific website for people who are interested in pursuing an advanced degree in Nurse Anesthesia (NA). A few months ago I did a web search looking for sites that could answer some of my questions regarding the NA profession, without all the boring political information, and came across yours. When I arrived at LAC + USC for my shadowing experience and Mrs. Cole said I would be with you I was ecstatic, had goose bumps and was jumping for joy on the inside. I said to her David the one that developed the nurse anesthetist website. She simply said yes. I had the biggest smile on my face that I would like to think made the sun shine brighter that day.
I would encourage anyone who is thinking of going into an advanced degree of nursing to shadow a practitioner in their chosen field.

Personally, I have shadowed a few times which just reinforces my desire to become a CRNA. By far, shadowing at LAC + USC has been the most rewarding for me. Probably because they are a strong teaching and research institution. Along with their expertise staff.

As a seasoned critical care nurse I feel confident in the excellent care I provide. I enjoy and embrace learning and increasing my knowledge base because it allows me to better serve the patients I encounter. During my shadow experiences, I must admit, I am amazed at how little I really know. This in turn just gives me more motivation to continue my professional career growth along the nursing continuum. Although I know that CRNA school will be painstaking rigorous, I am eagerly awaiting the challenge. The coined term a fire in the belly is what I felt at the beginning of my journey. That burning feeling has now become an engulfed fire running through my body.

David, thank you for your guidance and all the wealth of information you had shared regarding the profession, preparing for it and becoming a CRNA. You patiently and thoroughly answered all my questions. In addition, I would like to thank your colleagues for being enthusiastic, warm and welcoming when I was introduced to them. All of them (including you) gave encouraging words and advice. I value and greatly appreciate the experience I had during my visit



There you have it.  When will you call for a Shadow experience?  You have to remember that only The Shadow Knows for sure.  When you do interview for that coveted spot in an anesthesia program no matter where it is the one sure question that will be asked is if you have “Shadowed a nurse anesthetist and what did that experience teach you?”  That is a guaranteed question and one you must be prepared to answer.

The next step is yours.

Categories : Student Life


  1. richo_006 says:

    Hi David! Im very excited to find this site. My name is Chona and I’m in the hiring process right now for LAC+USC and will eventually start at MICU. I have research a few sites about Nurse Anesthetist programs and i get cold hands by the excitement that it makes me feel!

    I wanted to ask you a lot of things! And given that you will notice this message of mine THANK YOU IN ADVANCE! Hopefully I will hear from you soon.

    A simple background of myself, I graduated 2006 with my BSN from the PHilippines, just got here March of this year, passed my NCLEX-RNthis October 28, 2008. I know that i have a long way to go but i wanted to do it the right way. I know that i need at least a year of experience in ICU but i think i will get more than that and to save money at the same time.

    I have bumped into few SRNA and CRNA who have their nursing degree from a foreign county and it seems like its harder for them. I come to a point of thinking on entering into an NP or CNS program first, then apply to CRNA so just to make my transcripts or “me as a whole” a desirable candidate. I dont have a great GPA just 3.28 i have it translated to US GPA.

    And I would love to enter USC too if given a chance. I talked to one of the admission personnel in there and she said that i can contact the program director and shadow a CRNA. But i felt like i wanted to have all my credentials readied like pre-reqs sciences which btw i already have it allbut i wanted to retake them here , experience, gre, certifications etc.

    Sorry this turned out to be a long post , i just felt so excited that right now i guess my mind is running around thinking on how to do the right thing so i can get in to the program someday. Thank you for your patience reading this and hope to hear from you soon.


  2. caitlin says:

    Hi! My name is Caitlin Ritchey. I have enjoyed reading your posts. I am interested in the Nurse Anesthetist profession. I have contacted a few different sources including a medical college, a few hospitals, and an anesthesia group to find information on how I could job shadow a nurse anesthetist. They all told me they couldn’t help me with it. Do you know of any nationwide programs or services that would allow me to shadow? I would appreciate any help. Thanks.

  3. Danielle Balzano says:

    Hi David,

    I am currently a nursing student at Loyola University of Chicago and have been having a very hard time trying to find shadowing opportunities in the Chicago area. I have found that unless you have a personal relative or family friend connection that is really hard to find any shadowing opportunities. Even volunteering at three different hospitals have given me no luck. Do you have any suggestions on how to find shadowing opportunities?

    Thank you!

    – Danielle

  4. David says:


    Check out Rush University. Give Michael Kremer a call and ask for a Shadow experience. Good luck. DG

    Rush University College of Nursing
    Nurse Anesthesia Program
    600 S. Paulina St.
    Armour Academic Center
    Chicago, IL 60612

    Program Information
    Date of Last Review: 5/2005
    Next Review Date: 5/2015
    Degree(s): Doctor of Nursing Practice (Entry Level), Doctor of Philosophy (Entry Level), Master of Science in Nursing (Entry Level), Master of Science in Nursing (Completion)
    Program Length: 27 months
    Starting Month(s): June

    Michael J. Kremer, CRNA, PhD, FAAN, Program Director
    Judith C Wiley, CRNA, DNP, Associate Program Director
    ph: (312) 942-6125
    fax: (312) 942-2549

  5. jay Jay says:

    Hi David,

    I am new to the DFW area and desperately need to find a place to shadow CRNAs/ I have 8 hours under my belt already but I am hoping to get 30-40 hours. I am planning on applying to schools this year and I really need my applications to stand out. I REALLY want this!!!

    Thanks in advance.


  6. Graham Brown says:

    Hi David:

    I am very interested in pursing NA as well. I live in NYC and volunteer with Beth Israel Medical Center. However, I am have a hard time finding someone to get shadow experience with. Do you have any suggestions?

    I appreciate your time and help!


  7. David says:


    Good luck to you and stay focused.

  8. Ana says:

    Hi David,

    I have currently been working a year in ICU in South Florida, but my own hospital will not allow shadowing in the OR due to HIPPA violations. I need my shadowing experience for the program here, do you know of any place I could try to get in some shadowing time?



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