Nichole Maharaj, SRNA
TxANA Sponsorship Awardee
AANA Mid-Year Assembly (MYA) offered multiple learning opportunities for me as a first-year Student Registered Nurse Anesthetist (SRNA). MYA builds advocacy skills and political awareness in nurse anesthesia. Attending MYA reinforced the true impact of nurse anesthesia practice issues I have learned about in my coursework, including ending provider discrimination, ensuring veterans' access to high-quality care, removing physician supervision, and reducing barriers to practice. The passion conveyed by various Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) to implement policy change and improve Nurse Anesthesia practice motivates me to continue to do the same.
Speaking to a legislator can be nerve-wracking, especially as a politically inexperienced first-year student. MYA provided several informational sessions in preparation for meeting with a legislator. Speakers of these sessions included AANA Board Members, CRNAs, Congressional leaders, staffers of Congressional leaders, and advocacy experts. The speakers and CRNAs in attendance offered strong encouragement and support in preparation for the meeting. Several sessions reviewed conversational etiquette useful when speaking to political leaders or media interviewers. A key takeaway from the sessions is that a constituent's voice carries more weight to politicians than lobbying groups.
It is crucial to present the relevance and implications of the issue(s) of the constituents to the legislators. Demonstrating knowledge of the opposing viewpoint and a counterargument strengthens one's position.
The engaging sessions on current practice issues helped me prepare for the legislative meetings. I particularly enjoyed the CRNAdvocacy 101: Points of Influence in the Federal Law-making Process and Issue Overview Beginner Advocate Track session. The session effectively extended further education on the Protect Lifesaving Anesthesia Services for Veterans Act of 2022 (H.R. 7048), the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act, and barriers to full practice authority. This helped me build a strong foundation before I and Dr. Galle DNP, CRNA met with Hannah Andersen, the Energy and Commerce Policy Director for Rep. Dan Crenshaw's office. The experience of meeting with a staffer was truly empowering. MYA emphasized the importance of remaining aware of nurse anesthesia practice issues and advocating for the profession. The current advancement of the nurse anesthesia profession results from the efforts of CRNAs before me. Barriers to nurse anesthesia practice still exist. It is important to continue to tackle these barriers for future generations.
MYA also enables CRNAs and SRNAs from across the nation to meet and discuss state-based issues. Insight into different practice obstacles and victories by various states develops a broader perspective of Nurse Anesthesia. Other SRNAs shared their experiences in working with their state nurse anesthesia organizations, PACs, and the AANA. I was introduced to several positions that foster leadership and advocacy within the profession. I left inspired to pursue such positions within TxANA and AANA in the coming years.
I am truly grateful for the opportunity to attend MYA. The in-person meetings allowed me to witness the passion for the nurse anesthesia profession nationwide through the grit and passion displayed by the CRNAs in attendance. I hope to contribute to this passion as I progress further into my journey of becoming a CRNA.