CRNAs during COVID-19 and Improving Students’ Experiences

Maiko Yamashita, DNP, CRNA, Kelly Gallagher, CRNA, Samantha Pratt, CRNA, James Miller, CRNA, Chief CRNA, Victor Oskvarek, CRNA
Maiko Yamashita, DNP, CRNA
Maiko Yamashita

The Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists’ (CRNA) family within Rush came together in a wide variety of ways to assist the medical center during the pandemic while maintaining practice in the OR.

CRNAs were deployed on the airway team, as advanced practice providers, as ICU nurses and as respiratory therapists, while alternating to sustain OR services. CRNAs participated in research, QI efforts, volunteer/outreach activities and committee work to expand our impact and our voice across the Rush system to improve the care of our patients undergoing anesthesia and surgery.

Maiko Yamashita made a big impact on how we work with our students here at Rush. She served as a DNP project facilitator and first reader for Student Registered Nurse Anesthetists (SRNAs). In this role, she mentored and assisted future CRNAs in completing their DNP projects to improve clinical practices not only at Rush, but at offsite clinical rotations as well.

In addition to providing clinical instruction within the OR, Dr. Yamashita also served as the Student Clinical Coordinator, which became especially challenging when the students missed months in the OR due to the pandemic. Her ingenuity and tireless work with the anesthesia department paid off and all students in the class of 2020 graduated on time.

Following this role, Dr. Yamashita took her commitment to education one step further and became the interim program director. In this dual-role within the college and operating room, she remained a steadfast advocate for patient care and safety, SRNA education, and collaboration with her colleagues and other advanced practice providers.

Because of her many contributions, Dr. Yamashita was awarded the Ellen Elpern Voice of the APRN Award in 2020. This is an annual award given to an advanced practice nurse within the Rush System who exemplifies leadership, commitment and excellence in practice.