T’Anya Carter

MS, CRNA (Texas)

The Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program, in my opinion, signifies progress and much needed change. I met Dr. Wallena Gould, CRNA at the Annual Meeting in Minneapolis in 2008 as a trainee. And at the time, the statistics regarding the numbers of nurse anesthetists of color were abysmal. Through this program, minority trainees are being exposed to a career in nurse anesthesia in record numbers. Although the numbers are not yet where they should be, they are improving. As Gandhi so eloquently stated, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Wallena is a living testament to this statement. Through her vision and leadership, she has instilled in many of us along the way to continue to inspire others the way she inspired us. I subscribe to this school of thought and have made myself visible and available to a number of nurses and nursing students on their own quest to achieve the previously perceived unachievable career of nurse anesthesia. This is progress.

Thomas J. Giannaccini III

Class of 2013 Co-Class Representative,
Nurse Anesthesia Specialty, School of Nursing,
University of Maryland, Baltimore
2012-2013 Student Representative,
Maryland Association of Nurse Anesthetists

The Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program has had an enormous impact on my life. My life has changed drastically for the better since I met Dr. Lena Gould, CRNA, EdD and John Bing, CRNA. Not only did I get accepted to the Nurse Anesthesia program at University of Maryland, Baltimore; I have also made high quality lifelong friends.

From the very first Diversity Information Session I went to at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, I knew that I had met a group of friendly, high caliber people from interesting and diverse backgrounds. Next, I went to an Airway workshop at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I learned a great deal about airway anatomy, techniques for intubation, and how to use a fiber-optic bronchoscope. I also had the opportunity to view and manipulate an anesthesia machine.

Although I knew the experience was special, I didn’t realize how special it was until I started my first day of nurse anesthesia training. I soon realized that the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program is one-of-a-kind, and there are extremely limited opportunities to be able to view an anesthesia machine or learn hands-on airway skills prior to anesthesia school. Later, when I revisited these topics in class, I was able to grasp the concepts much more easily than if I had not gone to the Airway Workshop. Not only did this help me, it helped my classmates as well because I was able to share the experiences I gained at the workshop.

Another positive outcome of the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program is that I have become more sensitive to the needs of cultures which are different than mine. In making friends from various cultural backgrounds, sharing life experiences with them, and listening to their life experiences, I have been able to gain some insight into cultures which are different than what I grew up around. I have come to value variety of culture tremendously through the friends I have made in Diversity.

As a result of the friends I made through Diversity, I was offered an opportunity to help the people of Nicaragua on a medical mission. It was an amazing experience which really tested my anesthesia skills. John Bing, CRNA served as my mentor for the trip; I was humbled by the amount of experience and knowledge he was willing to share with me. I feel as though I have become a much stronger clinician as a result.

Through Diversity I was able to gain an insight as to what the field of Nurse Anesthesia is like before entering Nurse Anesthesia training. Being able to get my questions answered before entering the program was invaluable; I knew I needed to prepare myself for a very difficult 28 months. Subsequently, I was able to get my affairs in order before entering training. Considering how difficult the training is, I would not have wanted to enter graduate school without that insight.

To any prospective students who are on the fence about applying to Nurse Anesthesia school, I offer the following words of advice. 1) Get your questions answered. 2) Prepare your life so that you can focus without distraction for the next 3-4 years. 3) The work is hard but advice is available. This is what really makes it possible. Seek a good mentor, then do as they suggest, no matter how difficult. Best of Luck.

Marie Altagrace Medastin

Student Registered Nurse Anesthetist
University of North Florida, Class of 2013

While researching minorities in anesthesia during my first year of anesthesia school, I came across Dr. Lena Gould’s name in various online articles. When I heard her name during a session at my first AANA meeting, I had to introduce myself. During that introduction, Dr. Gould gave me her email address and informed me that I could contact her anytime. Weeks later, I sent her an email. Forty five minutes from the time I sent the initial email, she emailed back with her phone number. Twenty minutes later, I called her, and had one of the best conversations with a CRNA since starting anesthesia school. Dr. Gould and the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program has truly been a blessing to me. Prior to getting involved in DNAMP, my journey through anesthesia school was definitely a struggle. The members of DNAMP are devoted to mentoring not only minorities but also anyone interested in anesthesia. They are always a phone call, text message, or email away. Through the DNAMP, I have had the opportunity to network with people I probably would not have had to opportunity to meet without DNAMP. I have had the chance to complete research that will most likely extend to a doctoral degree. Lastly, I have gained relationships that will last a lifetime. My only regret is not finding out about the DNAMP sooner. Dr. Lena Gould truly is, ‘The Bomb Dot Com.’

Angela Pettis

Capt, USAF, NC

Shannon Segres, CRNA, MSN introduced me to Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia back in 2008 before I entered University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB) NAP. Who would have known that this organization would inspire me and so many minorities interested in becoming a CRNA. Not only did I benefit from the advice and encouragement from this organization but more importantly it allowed me to become a role model for others. During my first year of school I received the DCANA scholarship for educating students (mostly minorities) at a local community college about Nurse Anesthesia. I also was the student moderator for the Diversity CRNA program at UMB. Despite being the only African American female in my program, I never felt alone. In fact, it motivated me to excel. Thank you Lena for your unwavering dedication and your courageous spirit!!

Wondenwossen Goshu

CRNA, DNP (Texas)

The Diversity CRNA website is an awesome venue for SRNA and CRNA candidates to seek support, receive encouragement and gain valuable information from insight on productive navigation through their personal program to how to obtain the job of their dreams. The anesthesia and pain management industry is exciting, innovative and ever evolving and Lena’s website captures that same essence and transforms it into a tool for every user, novice to expert. I am continually visiting this site as a networking hub and a resource for new projects in the vast and vital world of anesthesiology. Kudos to Lena and thank you for creating such a useful gateway into our field.

Irene Tavakoli

BSN, CCRN (Maryland)

I always knew that I wanted to be a CRNA but it seemed impossible to get there. I heard about the Diversity in CRNA Mentorship Program from a coworker and I immediately knew that I had to go. I attended the 2013 Diversity in CRNA Mentorship Program at Pittsburgh University and it is a weekend that I will never forget. Dr. John O’Donnell, the program director of Pittsburgh Nurse Anesthesia Program and Dr. Lena Gould and Mr. John Bing made this experience unforgettable. I got the opportunity to interact with the guest speaker, the AANA President, Dennis Bless CRNA, MS, and practice clinical skills at the Wiser Simulation Lab. I was excited to connect with so many people who all had the same goal and passion as I do- to be a CRNA. I left the first day speechless and excited about what the future holds. I felt like I finally had a chance to make my dreams come true! Thank you Dr. John O’Donnell for hosting the Diversity in CRNA Mentorship Program at your school and thank you Dr. Gould and Mr. Bing for all your help along the way. This journey has been one I will never forget and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you!

Tracy Ojeniyi

Graduate of Thomas Jefferson University NAP 2013

My story was a little bit different in the sense that I had not heard about the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia program before I started my anesthesia program . Had I known, I am sure that my application process and journey to starting my career as a nurse anesthetist could have been a much smoother transition. Within weeks of starting my nurse anesthesia program, I had met several classmates that raved about the program and its founder Dr. Lena Gould, CRNA. They shared with me their personal unique experiences and dealings with the Diversity CRNA program. This inspired me to become involved and spread awareness about the program that I had not get to experience to the fullest upon starting my personal journey. Since getting involved, I have encouraged many others to also get involved and not miss out on the experience that mentorship program can provide. I have been able to act as a mentor to others much like Lena Gould and John Bing have been to me. Being able to pay it forward is the best way to further the mission of such a wonderful organization. Thank you Lena for allowing me to be a part of your ultimate goal of expanding diversity in the
field of anesthesia.

Erica Bryant

Drexel University Nurse Anesthesia Program – Class of 2015

The love of science has been instilled in me for as long as I can remember. My grandmother and numerous aunts were nurses and my father was biology major in college. This passion for science was reflected in my first career choice as a Cytotechnologist. As a cytotechnologist I studied the vastness of the human body on a cellular level and continued to marvel as I learned to thoroughly understand the human cell and how various disease processes affected it.

While my career allowed me to help patients indirectly, not having direct contact with them left me feeling unchallenged and frustrated. In 2004 I decided to do something about my frustration and began to extensively research the many fields of study that pertained to Health Sciences. As I weighed my options, I found the nursing profession to be a natural fit for my intellectual and nurturing capabilities. READ MORE

As I researched various careers in nursing, it had also become my decision at this time to pursue a degree in advanced practice nursing. I became interested in Anesthesia, a discipline which appealed to my natural affinity for human physiology. Equipped with a new found passion for the Nurse Anesthesia profession, a friend had told me about Dr. Wallena Gould and her mission to mentor minorities interested in pursing a career in nurse anesthesia. I attended my first Diversity Information Session in 2008. It was at this meeting, I met and heard from the AANA Past President of 1973, Goldie Brangman, CRNA, MBA;what an absolute honor.

Through Dr. Gould’s encouragement and mentorship I am now enrolled in Drexel University’s Nurse Anesthesia Program. I can truly say that I would not have been able to make it as far as I have if it had not been for the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship program. Thanks ever so much Dr. Gould for the tremendous sacrifices you have made to make the dream of becoming a Nurse Anesthetist a reality for me and so many other minorities. GOD Bless you!!!

Mark Doria

Rutgers University Nurse Anesthesia Program

The Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program has opened so many doors of opportunities for me, including gaining admission into a CRNA program. I attended my first DNAMP session at Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, CA. The information session and airway simulation were so helpful in guiding me through my application process. Getting “my feet wet” in the simulation lab was an exciting experience and strengthened my inner desire to become a CRNA.

Dr. Lena Gould and Mr. John Bing became my mentors and I truly admire them for all the hard work they do in keeping this organization going. They have given me inspiration not only to become a great CRNA, but to guide and mentor future minority SRNAs (like myself). I was honored to have been a part of the SRNA Panel at the University of Pittsburgh (March 2013, to share my experiences with others who will be undergoing the same experiences I did. DNAMP has allowed me to become a part of a melting pot of intelligent individuals, coming together in unity. Thank you Dr. Lena Gould, Dr. John Bing, all the mentors, CRNAs and participating schools for such a fantastic program!

Deji Babalola

Drexel University Nurse Anesthesia Program – Class of 2015

In 2008, I attended the Diversity CRNA Information Session at the Camden campus of Rutgers University. The guest speaker was Frank Purcell, BS (AANA Senior Director Federal Affairs). At the time, I was just starting an accelerated BSN nursing program. I was excited to become a nurse, as I had a degree in finance that left me somewhat unfulfilled.

This information session was sponsored by the DNAMP, and it opened up my eyes to the world of anesthesia. There were minority nurses, students, SRNAs, and CRNAs from across the country. They were there enthusiastically pursuing a career in nurse anesthesia or mentoring other people in some fashion. They were open to questions, and provided insight on the rigors and pleasures of a career in nurse anesthesia. They exchanged their personal information and were willing to help me and other students in any way possible.

In addition to the information session, I was invited by Dr. Gould and her colleagues to attend an airway workshop. Now as an SRNA, I now have a bigger appreciation of the opportunity. To have well experienced nurse anesthetist walk you through an anesthesia machine check and present the various airway devices used in anesthesia is a valuable experience that cant be overemphasized.

I would not be in a nurse anesthesia program if it was not for the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program. Point Blank. Period.