AUSTIN, TX – The Texas Association of Nurse Anesthetists (TxANA) recognizes and celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. The healthcare landscape in Texas is enriched by the diversity of the Hispanic patient population and the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) workforce.
As we close the month, we reflect on the successes of Latin American/Hispanic CRNAs and the impact they have brought to the profession.
Susan Flores Hukill, DNAP, MSNA, CRNA, and member of TxANA's Board of Directors, brings a legacy of community service to her profession after following in her father's footsteps in her journey to becoming a CRNA.
"I was born and raised in Oklahoma. I have two sisters who would say I am the typical stubborn middle child. My mom and dad met in El Paso, TX and moved to Oklahoma after my dad completed his anesthesia training." Hukill said. "My dad is also a CRNA who worked as an independent practice CRNA for over 40 years. My parents always demonstrated kindness and a strong work ethic throughout my childhood."
"I have been very fortunate to work for a very supportive anesthesia group," Hukill said. "I’ve had my fair share of challenges in becoming a CRNA, but those challenges have helped me to become the person I am today. I credit my success as an SRNA, and now CRNA, with the work ethic and kindness my parents instilled in me all those years ago."
Fluent in Spanish, Hukill has provided the highest of care to her patients who faced challenges with communications during their time in care.
"Working in Austin, many of my patients are of Latin American or Hispanic identity and are Spanish-speaking only," Hukill said. "When I meet them, they are in a hospital where not everyone can communicate with them."
"As you can imagine, having to undergo a surgical procedure requiring anesthesia would be nerve-wracking for any of us. Suppose you were unable to communicate with the medical staff who were taking care of you. In such a case, you can see how many Spanish-speaking patients often face additional stressors during their surgical experience. I feel very fortunate to be able to communicate with these patients during these stressful times."
As many CRNAs do, Hukill has great admiration for her profession and the quality of care provided to patients.
"I love the practice of anesthesia and taking care of patients," Hukill said. "CRNAs are a unique bunch of advanced practice registered nurses. Our years of required experience as ICU nurses before beginning our anesthesia training not only helped us to develop a strong critical care nursing skillset but also taught us how to communicate and care for our patients and their families. As CRNAs, we treat one patient at a time. We often have about five minutes to develop a rapport and trust with our patients and their families before rolling them into the operating room and starting their anesthetic. That is a huge responsibility that not a single CRNA takes lightly."
Hukill celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with her family most years but acknowledges the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way they celebrate its impact.
"We always talk with our girls about our heritage," Hukill said. "We usually have a family gathering on a Sunday in October where we have good food and talk about all those who have come before us and the contributions they have made to society.”
Hukill emphasizes the importance of family and culture carried into the path of any Student Registered Nurse Anesthetist (SRNA) as they make their journey into becoming a CRNA.
"You should feel very proud of your achievements. Lean on your family and close friends for support," Hukill said. "Work hard, go above and beyond and strive to be better; don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t give up. Also, feel free to reach out to me; I always welcome the chance to mentor SRNAs on their journey to becoming a CRNA."
The Texas Association of Nurse Anesthetists (TxANA) is the statewide voice for more than 5,400 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) in Texas, advancing policy, practice, and regulatory concerns across the state and at the Texas Capitol. Our mission is to advance patient safety and the profession of nurse anesthesia. Online at txana.org.
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