2019 AMRI Scholarship Program by Carrie Borchardt
Author: Carrie Borchardt
School: Northeastern University
Area of Study: DNP of Nurse Anesthesia Program
The role of a nurse has always been more than a job to me. My work is not merely a position in the hospital, but an indispensable part of how I perceive the breadth of human experience and relate to my community. Whether assisting with celebrated births in the Labor and Delivery unit, grieving with a heartbroken family over a basilar artery infarct in the Neurological Intensive Care Unit, or sitting alone with an emaciated lung cancer patient as he breathes his last on an Oncology floor, I have gained a more comprehensive understanding of the world. These various experiences have spurred me on to discover the resiliency and mental capacity to arrive at work every day prepared for whatever opportunities face me. From my undergraduate years as a dual-major in Nursing and Spanish at Anderson University to my diverse experiences in disparate areas of nursing and nursing management, continuing education has become a vehicle for personal growth. My passion for learning and positively altering our patients’ medical outcomes motivates me to pursue a graduate education in nurse anesthesia.
Nursing Trips Abroad as a Catalyst for Change
It was during my sophomore year of college when I first became enamored with the unknown. A couple books about India grabbed my attention, and I looked up travel volunteer opportunities. As a nursing student, a healthcare aide at an orphanage for children with special needs in a small city near the east coast of India seemed an instant fit. I convinced a good friend to sign up with me, and a few months later, we found ourselves en route to India.
Upon arrival to our apartment and the orphanage, we were excited, but exhausted. Before we had an opportunity to sleep from our long journey, we accompanied the volunteer coordinator to taking a sick child to the hospital. I was struck by the lack of compassion the healthcare workers showed this child with physical and mental disabilities and the lack of sterility used for basic procedures. A few days were spent in culture shock and intense discouragement. Then, slowly, I developed a deep appreciation and respect for the culture, the children at the orphanage, and my work with them. I found so much meaning in doing physical tasks such as checking their skin, providing range of motion, and exercise therapy for them. By the end of our time there, we were coordinating volunteer groups and taking children to the hospital by ourselves. Not only did this trip increase my confidence in my ability to adapt to new cultures, but I was also struck with a new love for human care, especially for those who could not fend for themselves.
My healthcare travels abroad continued when I had the opportunity to travel to Uganda for my intercultural nursing program. My classmates and I camped out in tents in rural villages and worked with doctors in the clinic there. Encountering people who lived a vastly different lifestyle than I did changed me for the better. There were heartbreaking moments too, when we did rapid HIV testing in the villages and had to give the horrible news through a translator, knowing it would forever change their life. While in Uganda, I conducted a research study on the stigma of HIV/AIDS in Uganda as well as in the United States. I was able to speak to a few dozen Ugandans who had been living with HIV for years and had been forced out of their jobs, villages, and families due to their status. This trip impressed upon me the need for quality providers to decrease stigma and provide support and confidentiality was of utmost importance in changing the world.
Empowerment after College
After college, this curiosity for the unfamiliar continued, and I traveled abroad alone, absorbing novel languages, cultures, and worldviews. For the first time in my life, I developed a voracious appetite for books, devouring everything from literature and history to science and economics. Self-defense inspired me, and after two years of training and competing in several tournaments, I earned my blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Creative writing was another interest, and after some practice, I published a short piece in a collection among works by authors I respected. Public speaking had terrified me since childhood, and becoming a Toastmasters International member gave me an avenue to overcome this barrier to my ideal self. The opportunity to speak in front of over two hundred people presented itself, and my newfound strength allowed me to speak boldly and move an audience. I was elected Vice President of Education of the St. Louis Toastmasters chapter. My newfound passion for learning extended to my work life, and I challenged myself by exploring different areas of nursing.
This newfound empowerment spurred me on to new growth and autonomy in every aspect of my life. A career in nurse anesthesia became both an attainable goal and an opportunity to better myself and my community. After establishing my objective, I spent the next year managing critically ill patients at Barnes Jewish Hospital’s Neurological and Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit, studying and taking the GRE and CCRN exams, completing a statistics course prerequisite, receiving my ACLS and PALS, and beginning an upper level Genetics course. I found new meaning in connecting to my patients and their families by pursuing excellence in both critical care knowledge and effective evidence-based practice. After full days of titrating vasoactive, sedative, and paralytic drips, assisting with ventriculostomy placements, and managing mechanical ventilation, every night was an opportunity to master more material. While investigating additional resources in anesthesia, my drive to learn and my capacity to work and study long hours increased exponentially.
Passion For Anesthesia
While in the operating room during a carotid endarterectomy as part of my sophomore nursing practicum, I was instantly impressed with the depth of the anesthetists’ medical knowledge, as well as their coordination with the surgical and recovery teams. My interest in anesthesia was cemented after significant time collaborating with the anesthesia team during difficult intubations and postoperative admissions in the Intensive Care Unit. Administering the requisite sedatives, paralytics, and vasopressors, supplying intubation materials, and aiding in the confirmation of tube placement were among the most rewarding aspects during my time in the ICU. Moreover, I saw how a career in this area can change the course of patients’ lives in a meaningful manner.
My recent experience learning the essentials of critical care through managing patients at Barnes Jewish Hospital’s Neurological and Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit has been stimulating and fulfilling. My appreciation for continuing education as a vehicle for personal growth has only increased while providing care to those recovering from life-altering surgeries. Whether titrating vasoactive, sedative, and paralytic drips, monitoring mechanical ventilation, interpreting hemodynamic and intracranial pressures, assisting with placements of invasive drains, or sedulously studying disease processes and management, I strive to continually improve as a caregiver. Collaboration with doctors, nurses, and pharmacists of various disciplines has helped me glean medical wisdom from many sources. As I have overcome progressively more difficult hurdles, my appetite for further growth and autonomy continues. My love of science, attention to detail, and work ethic, in combination with my passion for patient care, have lead me to pursue a career in anesthesia.
ACLS, PALS, and the Future of Anesthesia
During my time in the Intensive Care Units at Barnes Jewish Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital, I have relished the opportunities to further my emergency medical knowledge. While I had taken and valued ACLS for use and utilized these principals in other areas of my nursing career, I developed a newfound appreciation for these protocols, which are evidenced based practice for arrhythmias, arrests and reversible causes. Whether I am being paged to an “Acute Care Team” event (a situation which is not a code, but may soon turn into one if necessary action is not taken) on one of the floors and have to rapidly assess and lead the beginning of the care until the physician arrives or I am coding one of the patients in the ICU with a team, I am always utilizing these principles, which are a cornerstone of emergency and intensive medicine. ACLS provides me with the knowledge and confidence, which comes from having premeditated responses to clinical situations, while still continuing to assess the unique aspects of the emergency.
For graduate school application, I have recently taken PALS in addition to my BLS, ACLS, and CCRN certifications. I was very impressed with how much more comfortable I would feel in an emergency involving a child without any experience working on a pediatric unit. The simulations that were posed to us in groups were very helpful, and it was an invaluable experience, leading a pediatric code, as well as debriefing the experience with the instructors. The pretest and posttest were especially helpful in being able to accurately identify rhythms quickly and work through the ACLS and PALS algorithm in a situational manner.
I have recently been accepted into Northeastern's University's Doctorate of Nursing Practice in Nurse Anesthesia Program. Northeastern University’s marked emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration and strong science curriculum will give me that broad base of knowledge while challenging me at premiere clinical practicum sites. I am excited to begin a CRNA program that incorporates the requisite didactic and clinical progression to ensure exposure to the full scope of anesthesia practice. For the next three years, I will be learning anesthesia principles and developing my skills at exceptional sites around Boston such as Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston’s Children Hospital. Learning how to safely intubate, sedate, and provide epidural nerve blocks will prepare me to be a competent anesthetist. I will keep up to date on my BLS, ACLS and PALS certifications as they will be a necessity during my clinicals. As I dive into the world of pediatrics, I look forward to utilizing PALS in the hospital. While these next years will yield many challenges, I look forward to embracing this time to focus completely on learning as much about this science as possible.
In the next five years, my goal is to be an anesthetist who uses both knowledge and experience to safely administer anesthesia and master new technologies to better anesthesia practice. While I am open as far as my first job, I would love to work at a Level 1 Trauma Center, accruing experience anesthetizing for neurological and cardiac cases. Accruing experience and mastering the science of anesthesia would allow me to understand areas of practice which could be improved through research. A the ten year mark, I aspire to shifting my career by forwarding anesthesia practice through research. My plan is to work towards my PhD, and conduct research on the neurocognitive effects of anesthetic agents during pediatric neurosurgeries. While working as a CRNA part time, I could be contributing to the anesthesia knowledge base in a reasonable way, which would help the outcomes of these patients.
I am also passionate about educating the next generation of nurse anesthetists, ultimately as a program director of a doctorate program at a reputable university in the next fifteen years. It is very important to me to impart my knowledge in this career onto a bright, new set of students who will go on to further anesthesia practice, as well as to make anesthesia more effective and affordable for our patients. Such a path would be exciting, feasible, and would help patients in need. Having the skills and experience to positively alter our patient’s’ medical outcomes and give back to my community is an objective I will work tirelessly to achieve.
I have become increasingly passionate about my future career in anesthesia as I discover new depths of mental energy. My work ethic and singular purpose have instilled in me a resilience that I am confident will help me thrive in graduate school. I hope to have the opportunity to partner with American Medical Resource Institute to achieve this goal. I am asking for this scholarship o sponsor me on this journey. I believe it would be difficult to find an applicant as passionate and hardworking as I am. I have dedicated the last years of my life to realizing the goal of being accepted into Northeastern University, and this is only a harbinger of the achievements that are to come. The AMRI’s’ funds would be utilized effectively, and I would proudly share my positive experience with this company. I would work my hardest for myself and the team of people supporting me, including AMRI. Such a partnership would be mutually rewarding, inspirational, and long lasting as I would have the opportunity to continually renew my ACLS and PALS requirements with AMRI.
This scholarship would mean many things to me. First and foremost, it would signify that I have the good faith of AMRI to succeed in my aspirations, and my hard work merits this unique scholarship. With many qualified applicants, I would consider it an honor to receive this award. Practically speaking, it would be of great consequence. Three years without an income and a high price of tuition will be exceedingly difficult, and this would lighten my burden and allow me to focus solely on my education. This reward would make the burden of these payments more bearable, and I would fondly remember this experience. I look forward to taking the next steps towards the well-grounded education I need to succeed in my future goals and ask that American Medical Resource Institute will join with me in the advancement of the healthcare field.