• Nurse Anesthesiology is Empowerment

    By Erik Rauch, DNP, MBA, CRNA, NSPM-C 

    When people think about empowerment, they recall circumstances that allowed them to become stronger and more confident as individuals. For me, the profession of Nurse Anesthesiology has been that force for positive change. I became a CRNA in January 2007, and since then, I’ve had one professional growth opportunity after another that has allowed me not only to grow as a person, but also elevate patients, students, my community and the profession. It’s unlike anything I’ve experienced in any other career.

    After starting as a CRNA at a Level 2 Trauma Center, I was invited in 2009 to become a faculty member for the University of South Florida (USF) Nurse Anesthesia Program. By the end of 2011, I was promoted to Program Director. This role allowed me to collaborate with key community stakeholders in the Tampa Bay Area and shape the future education of new-graduate CRNAs. That is empowerment.

    While leading the USF Nurse Anesthesia Program, I dreamed of putting it on the map as a top CRNA program nationally. I wanted to develop a Non-Surgical Pain Management program that CRNAs could take to expand their practice beyond the operating room. To do that, I went through the training myself to become Non-Surgical Pain Management Certified (NSPM-C), and took that knowledge back to USF to open that avenue for other CRNAs. Today, USF is the largest graduating program of NSPM-C CRNAs in the country! That is empowerment.

    In 2014, a large Anesthesia Management Company entered the Tampa Bay market and received the service contract for the Level 2 Trauma Center where I started my career. The Transitional Medical Director for that company extended an offer to become the Chief CRNA at my original workplace. In 2017, I rose to Regional Director of Advanced Practice Providers, and in 2020 I was promoted to Senior Director of Advanced Practice Providers. I now work often and directly with corporate and senior leadership across major healthcare systems. I feel confident that I’m making a difference in the communities we serve. That is empowerment.

    Finally, I have had the opportunity to serve both on the state and national level with my professional association. Those roles have given me an advocacy and policy voice that I never had before. I have held almost every Board position for the Florida Association of Nurse Anesthesiology, including President from 2017-2018. Today I’m on the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology Board of Directors and getting to once again serve in a larger role than I could have ever imagined. That is empowerment.

    From academic leadership to clinical leadership, from business to CRNA advocacy, I can say that I have definitely grown in strength and confidence in this amazing profession — but most importantly, I’ve brought others along.

    If there’s one thing I’d pass on to the next generation of CRNAs, it would be to seek opportunities for leadership in Nurse Anesthesiology. There are many roles out there and a need — more than ever — for CRNAs to take them on and help advance the U.S. healthcare system.

    Doors to empowerment open with Nurse Anesthesiology. Will you step through them?