Vaunique Brown, BSN, RN, CCRN, still remembers her first intubation. She and her classmates were in clinical for a week at this point, and she had not intubated anyone yet. After seeing the vocal cords and observing the ETT go through, she whispered aloud, “Oh my, God, I got it.” And with that excitement and growing confidence, she knew she had made the right decision to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist.
In fact, Brown chose the profession because she wanted more opportunities for independence in patient care. She loved working in critical care, but she also wanted to advance her career. The autonomy and quick critical thinking she witnessed during her shadowing experiences made her certain she was going to pursue anesthesia.
Her first shadow experience was in 2012 at her local hospital, where she met Dr. Wallena Gould, Ed, CRNA, FAANA, FAAN, founder & CEO of Diversity CRNA who actually encouraged Brown to pursue nurse anesthesia. “Thank you, Dr. Gould,” Brown says.
She also looks up to best friend and peer Ryan Davis, MSN, CRNA, a recent graduate of Columbia University. Davis and Brown met during nursing school at Drexel University. They both shared their aspirations of becoming CRNAs one day. Well, if you’re keeping track at home … that’s one down and one to go! (Brown is studying at the University of Pennsylvania.)
Brown’s current mentor is her program director, Dr. Dawn Bent, DNP, MSN, CRNA, who also serves as a trustee of the Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists. “If you know her, you know she’s great,” Brown says. “Definitely want to be her when I grow up!"
Brown is taking this educational journey day by day, week by week and embracing each moment. Not that she isn’t thinking about what the future holds. She says she would love to help establish a nurse anesthesia program at one of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).
“Black History Month is a time to reflect on the achievements we have accomplished, an opportunity to educate current generations of the sacrifices our ancestors had to make and a moment to remind ourselves of the continued work we still have to hurdle,” Brown said. “I also see this as an opportunity for others to take action on how they can eliminate the disparities that African Americans experience in the various industries that were constructed without us in mind."