“We should not be intimidated to meet with our local legislators to educate them about our profession so that they can better represent our interests.”
Dana Rodgers, a Pennsylvania native who currently lives in Wilmington, Del., is a student representative on the board of the Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists (PANA), which represents more than 3,000 certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) and students (SRNAs) across the commonwealth. She’s a senior in the nurse anesthesia program at Villanova University/Crozer-Chester Medical Center, graduating this November.
We took time to get to know Dana a little bit more. Among the many interesting things we learned: She was inspired to become a CRNA by Larry Heredia, CRNA, DNP, JD, when she was a nursing student. As she nears her graduation date, Dana has plenty of words of wisdom for SRNAs. (Read the Q&A to get her sage advice!) And, when she’s not studying or advocating on behalf of CRNAs, Dana enjoys traveling, spending time with her family --- including the four-legged kind --- and reading the occasional non-anesthesia-related book. (She’s looking for a good book suggestion right now!)
Meet Dana Rodgers, your 2015-16 student trustee on PANA’s board:
Q: What is your position on the board?
A: I am the Student Board Representative, which is a position I’ve held since October 2015.
Q: Why did you choose to serve as a PANA Trustee?
A: I wanted to become involved in the political aspects of our profession, and I also wanted to work with and support SRNAs in Pennsylvania. I have enjoyed learning ways to advocate for and promote our profession.
Q: Where do you currently work?
A: For the last five years, I have been working in the CICU at Nemours A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., and I continue to work there per diem. After graduating, I will be working at Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland, Pa., with Associates in Anesthesia.
Q: Where are you going to school?
A: I am a senior in Villanova University/Crozer-Chester Medical Center’s Nurse Anesthesia Program, and I will be graduating this November.
Q: What made you choose being a CRNA as a profession?
A: As a nursing student, I was shadowing in the operating room (O.R.) when I started talking to the CRNA who was in the case. He was so intelligent, technically sound and passionate about his career that I decided to further investigate the field. After becoming an SRNA, I also had the opportunity to work with him again in the O.R. on several occasions, but I never told him that he inspired me to become a CRNA. Thank you, Larry Heredia, CRNA, DNP, JD, for inspiring me to become a CRNA and for being such a great educator and mentor!
Q: What made you choose the school you’re attending?
A: Villanova has a great reputation for producing intelligent and successful CRNAs. A few of my friends went through the program and had positive experiences. They spoke highly of the diversity of clinical sites, supportive administrators and teacher, and the well-rounded education they received. It is also located near my home; it’s nationally recognized for being a top graduate program, offering online programs; and it’s reasonably priced.
Q: The PANA board notes say you live in Delaware. Do you still live there or are you now living in Pennsylvania somewhere?
A: I currently live in Wilmington, Del., with my husband, Eric; dog, Winnie; and cats, Izzie and Riley. I grew up in Wallingford, Pa., and lived there for 25 years before moving to Delaware. I hope to move back to Pennsylvania one day soon!
Q: What are your hopes for post-graduation?
A: I look forward to working full time as a CRNA with Associates in Anesthesia starting in December. I also hope to continue my education and obtain my PhD. I would love to educate future CRNAs and hopefully become a program director of a nurse anesthesia program.
Q: As you look to become a CRNA, what do you feel is one of the most important issues that currently is affecting the field?
A: It’s hard to pick the most important issues as there are several issues currently affecting our field. However, I think engaging CRNAs in political and social issues that impact our profession is extremely important. Membership in state and national organizations is imperative to the growth, advancement and advocacy of our profession. With over 3,000 CRNAs and 12 nurse anesthetist programs in Pennsylvania, we could make a large impact at the state and national level by working together. We should not be intimidated to meet with our local legislators to educate them about our profession so that they can better represent our interests. I have found that many of our legislators are very approachable, easy to talk to and willing to learn. Many legislators do not even know what a CRNA is and do not know about our scope of practice or education. We cannot expect our legislators to support our interests if they do not even know what we do!
Q: Do you have any recommendations for student CRNAs who only recently started in a CRNA program?
A: I have several recommendations for new SRNAs. One is to be supportive of your classmates. Although most of us are competitive by nature, it is not always about who gets the best grades or the most intubations. Adopting a “team” mentality by sharing notes, forming study groups, sharing clinical experiences or going out together socially will help you succeed during your program. It is difficult for those who are not enrolled as a SRNA to understand what you are going through both academically and emotionally, so it is crucial that you have at least one person in your program that you can lean on when needed. Also, take time for yourself to do non-academic activities such as working out, doing out to dinner with friends/family, etc. It is important to find a school-life balance, otherwise you will burn out. The last bit of advice is to be humble throughout your program. We have all been successful ICU nurses, so it may be hard to take criticism (constructive or not) from the people we interact with in the OR. The best thing you can do is to be gracious instead of defensive in those situations.
Q: What do you do in your free time (when not studying)?
A: I like to spend time with my sister and niece in North Carolina. They live 10 minutes from the beach, so it’s always fun and relaxing when I am there. I also enjoy traveling and working out with my husband. I hope to go out West on a ski trip with him next year. I am also very busy with my four-month-old puppy Golden Retriever, Winnie. She has a TON of energy so I like to take her on long walks and have her play with my mom’s 2-year-old Chocolate Lab, CoCo. I try and read one non-anesthesia book a year. Last year, I read “Go Set a Watchman,” the sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I am looking for recommendations for a book for this year, so if anyone has any recommendations, feel free to contact me!
Q: Give us one interesting fact about you that no one would guess in a million years?
A: I played tennis with Martina Hingis, a former top ranked tennis player. She was in the Philadelphia area for a tournament, so my coach arranged for me to hit with her during one of her practice sessions. It was such an amazing experience and she was very down to earth.