Putting people to sleep — and more importantly, waking them up — is vital during surgery.
This week is Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists Week, and Paris Regional Medical Center is paying tribute to the seven nurse anesthetists who work there.
“We have an incredibly talented cohort of CRNAs at Paris Regional Medical Center,” CEO Steve Hyde said. “We utilize these providers for a multitude of services ranging from labor and delivery to surgical procedures. Anesthesia is a vital department for our hospital, and we’re excited to celebrate the work of our seven CRNAs this week.”
Those seven providers include Amy Green, Seth Walker, Dashielle Floyd, Adam Zigler, Aleina Barnard, Andrew Garza and Philip Swetey. Each is board certified with 61 years combined experience.
What exactly are CRNAs, how much education is required, what does a normal day look like and why someone might choose this line of work are all questions answered by the Paris Regional staff.
Amy Green said nurse anesthetists are the primary providers of anesthesia in rural America.
“We safely administer more than 49 million anesthetics each year,” she said in email correspondence about the history of the profession. “We were the first to professionally administer anesthesia, and have been doing so for more than 150 years.
Encouraged by her brother, a CRNA in the U.S. Army, Green said she was lucky enough to have an amazing role model. But, most young nurses have no idea that anesthesia is an available and financially rewarding career path.
“Our education experience is a lengthy process,” Green said. “One must have a baccalaureate degree in nursing and a minimum of one-year full-time experience in a critical care setting to apply to a nurse anesthesia program.”
A minimum 24 months of training and a masters degree is required by the 121 accredited nurse anesthesia programs in the United States. By the year 2025, all students entering a program will be required to obtain doctoral degrees.
Paris native Dashielle Floyd described a typical day, which starts at 6:30 a.m.
“Our case load varies from simple sedation in radiology to a trauma from the emergency room, an epidural for a laboring mother, a total knee replacement or any regularly scheduled case,” Floyd said. “Our patients range from 10-month-old babies receiving ear tubes to a 101-year-old patient with a broken hip. There is nothing typical about a day in the life of a CRNA. Every patient and every surgical procedure is different, and we must be ready for whatever comes our way.”
In addition to managing anesthesia during surgery, the specialists also manage fluid replacement, vital signs, patient positioning, pain management and, most importantly, the wake up.
“Most anesthetics at Paris Regional are provided by CRNAs,” Floyd said. “We work in a care team model. One of our four anesthesiologists will perform a pre-operative assessment of each patient in the holding area, and the CRNAs will be administering the anesthesia in the operating rooms. An anesthesiologist is available to collaborate with the CRNA if needed.
“CRNAs also cover call in the obstetrical area,” Floyd said. “We provide labor epidurals 24/7 to help provide pain relief for laboring mothers day and night.”
Paris native Seth Walker shared reasons why he chose the field.
“I became a CRNA because I enjoyed seeing them come into a difficult situation and be able to help manage the patient’s airway safely and securely,” Walker said. “This was my initial encounter with this profession while working in the Intensive Care Unit as an RN. Prior to becoming a CRNA, I was able to help CRNAs assist in the establishing of secure airways for patients in need in the ICU. I found this to be an interesting and exciting potential career path.”
Walker said he gets to work with different specialties and is involved in the care of many patients at a very crucial and vulnerable time, both in the operating room and also in the ICU, when the need arises.
“I love every moment of what I do and being able to help participate in caring for someone’s loved one and helping seeing them through an otherwise potentially scary and unknown part of their lives,” he said.
Walker also expressed appreciation to Paris Regional Medical Center for providing local residents great opportunities. He and Floyd grew up in Paris. Green and Barnard are both from Clarksville. and have lived in Paris for a decade or more.