AUSTIN, TX—The Texas Association of Nurse Anesthetists (TxANA) continues to recognize and celebrate Black History Month, from Feb. 1 to Mar. 1, and note the achievements of Black Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and all they do for patients across Texas.
One of TxANA's own members, Dennis James, DNP, CRNA, who practices in Houston, is making strides in mentoring the next generation of CRNAs and celebrates his identity as a quintessential part of the connections he makes.
"My journey to becoming a CRNA was challenging," James said. "The ICU and CRNA school experiences tested my intestinal fortitude, but I also learned a great deal along the way."
Because of his courage and resilience, James now shares his gratitude for his profession by paying it forward and assisting the next generation of CRNAs as they make their way into the field and the eventual adversity they could face.
"I mentor as a way to give back to the profession and help others along the way," James said. "I was fortunate to receive mentorship, which helped me, so now it is my turn to pay it forward."
According to the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program, a non-profit committed to promoting and advancing diversity initiatives to mentor critical care nurses who want to successfully matriculate into graduate nurse anesthesia programs, 12 percent of the 59,000 CRNAs in the United States are people of color, with only three percent of that identifying as African American.
With patient safety being the priority for Texas CRNAs, James celebrates his identity and how that connects him to the greater communities he serves.
"It helps a great deal because they can relate to me," James said. "They do not see me as intimidating and open up to me and tell me pertinent information they may not necessarily tell others."
A part of that identity James attributes to his family and childhood.
"My family growing up was hardworking and tight-knit, and they shaped me by motivating me to do my best and be a high achiever."
An essential factor in celebrating Black History Month is recognizing those who came before you.
"Black History Month means acknowledging and celebrating the accomplishments of Black people," James said. "I celebrate by learning about lesser-known Black people who have made extraordinary contributions."
James continues his celebration by connecting and mentoring the next generation of Black Student Registered Nurse Anesthetists at the beginning steps of their career.
"Have a strong support system and good mentors," James said. "Some days will be harder than others but hang in there because it does improve. I am available on Instagram (@crnainfo) if anyone wants to reach out about mentorship or has any questions."
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The Texas Association of Nurse Anesthetists (TxANA) was founded on Aug. 9, 1974. Its goals include facilitating cooperation between nurse anesthetists and the health care profession, hospitals, healthcare providers, and other agencies interested in anesthesia. The membership is limited to Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and Nurse Anesthesia Students who are members of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA).
Nurses were the first professional group to specialize in and provide anesthesia services in the United States in the 1880s. Today there are over 59,000 CRNAs practicing throughout the United States, of which more than 5,400 are located in Texas. CRNAs are advanced practice nurses registered by the Texas Board of Nursing (BON). CRNAs must hold a current state license as a registered nurse, graduate from an approved educational program, successfully complete the certification examination and comply with continuing education requirements for recertification. Learn more at www.txana.org.