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CRNA Week 2017 Celebrated CNHP Style

February 15, 2017

CRNA Week in Review
CNHP has no difficulty finding ways to recognize and celebrate nursing. And while May is the hot month for observances with Florence Nightingale's birthday at the center, January 22 - 28 is National CRNA Week—a week focusing solely on certified registered nurse anesthetists. There were activities all week to celebrate “Safe and Effective Anesthesia Care for Every Patient,.” this year’s theme. While providing safe and effective anesthetics to millions of patients for every kind of procedure every year is the promise of the profession, the theme for the 2017 awareness week selected by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists shines a spotlight on just how important that promise is.
The AANA established National CRNA Week 18 years ago to educate patients and the public about anesthesia safety and the benefits of receiving anesthesia care from CRNAs. Nurse anesthetists have been providing anesthesia care to patients in the United States for more than 150 years and have been the main providers to U.S. military personnel on the front lines since WWI. While nurses first provided anesthesia to wounded soldiers during the Civil War, the CRNA credential didn’t exist until 1956. “I'm grateful to be here studying at Drexel and I'm blessed to know that, one day, I will be among very strong leaders who have forged an indelible path of excellence, compassion and care,” said first year nurse anesthetist student Claudine Lombardo. It is through sharing with the public the long history, rigorous educational requirements and statistics (like nurse anesthetists safely deliver approximately 43 million anesthetics to patients each year in the United States) that are changing the way this profession is seen.
“Every year during CRNA week, we hold a welcome lunch to honor the new class,” said Suzanne Ariza, CRNA, MSN, CCRN ‘94/’06/’09. “Class representatives share words of wisdom with the freshmen and students of all the classes get to mingle,” Ariza added. Rachel Dubitsky, just finishing up her first month as a SRNA, commented on just how important it is to meet other people in the program. “No one truly understands this exciting, overwhelming, and life changing journey other than those who have, or are currently experiencing it,” she said. Amy Martino, another first-year student, said she was motivated by being with other Drexel students and celebrating this special profession with them.
In addition to the welcome lunch, students participated in a couple of community service projects. Second-year SRNAs Jason Lo, Eric Grider and Mark Prudente volunteered at a flu immunization clinic through the Philadelphia Department of Public Health while a group volunteered at St. John’s Hospice. “Volunteering at St. Johns Hospice was a great way to give back to the community and take a break from rigorous coursework,” Martino stated. St. John’s provides day services to homeless and needy men of Philadelphia and serves nearly 325 hot nutritious meals to them each weekday. CNHP’s SRNA students served lunch to the men during CRNA Week. “For many of the men who attend this luncheon each day, it is often the only time they eat a real meal,” Dubitsky explained. “It was in that moment that I realized how little my problems are in comparison to what these men go through every day…in a city just several minutes from where I grew up,” she added. Lombardo revealed a valuable lesson she took away from the experience: 
“Being a CRNA you are putting patients in a delicate position, but all too often we, as professionals, can forget why we chose the career path we did. Volunteering at St. John's was the reminder I needed to know that every encounter I make with someone is meaningful and that every person is deserving of their dignity and our respect.”
It is a common perspective unique to CRNAs that regardless of the activity — practicing, volunteering or advocating — it takes a great deal of dedication and empathy. Their work is patient-centric and, of course, revolves around safe procedures, but it also involves calming fears and building trust with their patients. “I have not only come to realize the many ways my life is going to change for the better, but the many ways I can positively impact the lives of others,” Dubitsky expressed. “I am so grateful for the educational opportunity that I have been given, and what better way to show my appreciation than through community outreach.”

By: Roberta Perry