The Pulse had an opportunity to sit down with 1995 D’Youville College Graduate Richard Boneberg, CRNA, MS. Rich earned his BSN from D’Youville and went on to further his education at the University of Buffalo, earning a Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia in 2005. He currently works as the Chief Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) with Great Lakes Anesthesia at Oshei Children’s Hospital and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center. Rich is pictured with his daughter Sarah, currently a Freshman at D’Youville in the School of Nursing, and his wife D’Youville College Nursing Professor, Anna.
When asked what he loves about his job, Rich said that:
“I’d become interested in Nurse Anesthesia because of the vastness and complexity of the field in addition to the possibility of innovating new devices or techniques. I still enjoy the complexity and challenge of the job because it keeps me far from bored and forces me to be humble. There are always multiple new techniques and modalities which can be used on the same patient going for the same surgery. This requires an immense amount of critical thinking skills and advanced decision making in order to tailor every anesthetic specific to that patient. Anesthesia is more an art than a profession. When watching the technique of a skilled practitioner, subtle changes in treatment can have profound effects on how the case may go. This skill requires multiple years of practice and the fluidity of the environment dictates the necessity for an open mind. I find it fascinating every aspect of airway management, cardiovascular resuscitation/fluid management, pain control/analgesia, respiratory physics/ventilator support and the management of the depth or adequacy of anesthesia. There is no greater honor than saving someone’s life, especially the life of a child. It is also incredibly fulfilling to be of service to patients and parents. To assuage the fears of parents and children before and after surgery is also an art. The perioperative period is an incredibly stressful time for patients of any age and parents of children having surgery. When I can do or say something that’s helps them through this time it feels really good.
I love my colleagues at Great Lakes Anesthesiology as well as the staff at Oshei and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center. We all understand the difficulty and stress of our jobs and having people around who act as a family, a team, and a source of compassion is essential. There is also very often a mix of humor available which I’d like to think I’m better than anyone else at. Most of my friends at work would argue that and I’ve been told more than once to quick get the patient to sleep because my jokes are awful. Just one more challenge I guess.”
Discussing difficult days and challenges of his job, Rich said:
“There are numerous aspects of my job which are very challenging. As mentioned, I have to rely on a vast fund of knowledge to properly conduct a safe smooth anesthetic based on the surgery the patient is having, the pain and anticipated sensitivity to pain the patient may have, the comorbidities the patient may have, and the specific requests by the surgeon. I have to remain current and proficient at resuscitation techniques. It is difficult to remain focused during times when the patient’s life seems compromised and make quick sound decisions to improve their condition. Remaining abreast of the latest research and data regarding patient care is an ongoing challenge because new and better techniques are always being tested, sometimes making old ones obsolete. This job requires 100% perfection. On any given anesthetic induction there are over 100 steps. If any of these steps is missed it could result in dire consequences for the patient.
On the same vein (strange I would use that term) as to the answer of what I love about the job, interpersonal interactions can be a challenge with this job too. It is quite often that patients, children, or parents can become quite difficult during the perioperative period. They can be suspicious of our techniques, angry at the necessity of the procedure or how long they’ve had to wait or display fear by a vast mix of emotions. Being compassionate, diplomatic, sensitive to their needs, and observant is key to diffusing what can become a powder keg if treated with an aloof insensitive attitude. Most people working in the OR could probably be described as having a Type A personality. They are strong willed, motivated and very intelligent. Tensions have a tendency to run high during disagreements and becoming somewhat pachydermatous is often necessary. Remembering that we’re all in this for the benefit of the patient and placing them before personalities usually benefits everyone”
The Pulse asked Rich what advice he would give to nursing students who want to pursue a role as a CRNA. This is what he had to say:
“The first bit of advice is to follow your dreams. I know that sounds corny but I believe that when you have distinct dreams and goals you act in a manner which makes them come true. If you dream to play professional hockey you don’t shirk going to practice every day, you love it. If you dream of going on for an advanced nursing practice degree you take your current role as nursing student and do your best at it. That being said, if you are doing your best, and only you can honestly answer that question, but are still struggling to get higher than a 3.20 GPA (which is the minimum criteria for entering CRNA school with most applicants having a GPA of 3.50 and higher) chances are Nurse Anesthesia may not be the best career choice. The selection process is very rigorous. You need at least two years of critical care experience, a number of references and impress on two interviews at the University. The current acceptance rate is around 10-20% of applicants. I usually tell students who shadow me in the operating room that CRNA is more a calling than a career. You will be in the OR 10hrs a day and going home to read 100 pages a night. That is no exaggeration. You will need to eat drink sleep and breathe anesthesiology for three years. If you have a passion for this field and constantly becoming better at it I believe it is the most fulfilling, challenging, fun, interesting, awesome job a nurse could ever have. Like my mom said before she passed away while I was in the program, “Don’t let anything stop you from accomplishing your goals.” Didn’t know you meant that mom. Go get it!!”