Austin, TX—TxANA celebrates June 2022 LGBTQ+ Pride Month as its members have continued to help continue its mission of patient safety and advancing the profession of nurse anesthesia.
Nate Jones, a Houston-based Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), celebrates his identity alongside his passion for his profession, which all started from adolescence, filled with compassion for helping others.
"I was raised in Buda, Texas, just south of Austin," Jones said. "I grew up with a dad, a mom, and two brothers. We were a close family who prioritized sitting down together at the dinner table every night. I am grateful for that model and the importance of coming together to talk, laugh, and share a meal once a day.
"I was raised with a strong work ethic. I was expected to work hard, but I also know my parents believed I could accomplish whatever goals I set for myself. The church was a big part of our life growing up. What I have taken from that experience is the importance of compassion and caring about other people's needs."
Taking that compassion, Jones attended nursing school in Austin and then moved to New York City to explore new horizons from Texas. It was there Jones came out as gay.
"My first nursing job was at Calvary Hospital, the nation's only hospital dedicated to in-patient palliative care for patients with cancer," Jones said. "After two years, I went to work at Bellevue Hospital in their Emergency ICU. I learned so much and experienced the importance of working with vulnerable populations while at Bellevue."
Bellevue Hospital, the oldest public hospital in the United States, has been known for care provided to the disadvantaged and homeless and even dignitaries and U.S. presidents.
After moving back to Austin, Jones worked for a year at North Austin Medical Center, where he became aware of the work done by CRNAs.
"They had nothing but good things to say about the profession and job satisfaction," Jones said. "I was interested in advanced practice, and nurse anesthesia felt like a way to build on my critical care nursing background."
Jones believes his passion and sensitivity towards patients who are part of vulnerable populations stems from his identity.
"Being gay has given me a sensitivity toward other vulnerable populations," Jones said. "I try and pay attention to the whole person and recognize that everyone has a story and a life experience. There is always more than meets the eye. We never know what someone else has gone through in life, and we must refrain from any judgment. We accept each other as we are. We always have more in common than we realize."
When thinking about a role model who influenced him, Jones recalled that his church and pastor were there for him.
"I mentioned that church was a big part of my life growing up," Jones said. "When I came out as gay, I had to reconcile my faith with my sexual orientation. Those things are not mutually exclusive, though some people would like us to believe they are. My pastor in New York was Joe Hays. Our church was a small one that started in a house and eventually moved into a school cafeteria. It was small, but the community was perfect. There were several people like me who were raised Christian, had come out and looked for a church where they felt like they belonged. Joe Hays is a wise, caring, thoughtful person who taught me that I was born as I was meant to be, that nothing was wrong with me and that I should live my life as the fullest expression of my whole self. He changed my life."
Pride Month is especially important to Jones, as he celebrates nearly a decade of marriage to his husband.
"We have two adopted kids, ages seven and eight," Jones said. "Our pride celebration looks different now than when we were single and childless. Pride used to be about the parade and pageantry, but now it's more about community. We get together with other families like ours and straight families, and we hang out and spend time together and let our kids play together. It is still a celebration of diversity."
Jones urges up-and-coming Student Registered Nurse Anesthetists (SRNAs) and CRNAs to recall their roots as they go on their journey of patient care.
"Remember that we are nurses first," Jones said. "Sometimes, I feel like it is easy for CRNAs to get absorbed into a model where we primarily focus on empirical data. I want us to remember that, as nurses, we have multiple patterns of knowing: empirical, ethical, personal, aesthetic, and emancipatory. This means that in addition to data and monitors, we care about moral knowledge, relationships, the art of nursing, and the presence of social problems and why they exist in the first place. Our nursing discipline affords a unique way of understanding every patient we care for."
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Advancing patient safety and the profession of nurse anesthesia, 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 http://www.txana.org