鶹Ӱ

issue Community Health 2024

Joining the Drive Toward Stronger Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia

By Margaret Smith
Ms. Giles worked with colleagues as a student moderator at the Diversity CRNA Information Session & Airway Simulation Lab Workshop in June 2023. The two-day program featured speakers, meet-and-greets, hands-on experience, Q&As, information on concentrations within the field and more.

There are roles we step into in life that unknowingly alter our trajectory. For Shayla Giles, RN, SRNA, CON ’24, the role of caretaker is one she donned early on as the eldest sibling of four and having been by the side of her ailing grandmother in her youth. Today, she stands in the midst of a career in which she’ll continue exhibiting that same passion: caring, advocating and making space not only for patients, but for her colleagues as well.

Ms. Giles’ decision to pursue this dedication was not something that came immediately, however — even if she had inspiration from her father, who is also a DNP, CRNA. Instead, the Delaware native found her way from a bachelor’s in nursing to the certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) profession in her own time.

Ms. Giles working as a
student moderator
Ms. Giles worked with colleagues as a student moderator at the Diversity CRNA Information Session & Airway Simulation Lab Workshop in June 2023.

“I went to a performing arts high school and undergrad. I originally went to school as an English major — I wanted to be a poet. My father finally convinced me. He said, ‘Just shadow me in the OR.’ And once I actually got to see firsthand what he does as a CRNA, I immediately changed my major.”

Throughout her career, Ms. Giles has been involved with the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program — both as a mentee, and now, as a mentor for other young students. The program was founded by Wallena Gould, EdD, CRNA, FAAN, and Ms. Giles said “it has blossomed into this organization that is so much like a family to me now.”

“When we go outside and look at the world, we see diversity everywhere. And that’s how I want to see it in medicine...”

“When I first graduated in nursing, I was afraid to go into anesthesia; it’s a lot of responsibility. You’re truly putting someone’s life in your hands. But the mentorship program, they all believed in me before I started to even believe in myself. They were there to encourage me, read my essays, read my resume,” Ms. Giles recalled. “Then I finally got into school, and (now) I do the same thing for other young students who are coming through the program.”

group shot from two day experience
The two-day program featured speakers, meet-and-greets, hands-on experience. The workshop was held on June 23 and 24, 2023.

Ms. Giles looks forward to a future where the field is further diversified with professionals who have a seat at the table not solely because of an inclusivity program or stand-out scholarships, but because “it is a part of our everyday life. When we go outside and look at the world, we see diversity everywhere. And that’s how I want to see it in medicine — where it’s second nature, it’s just natural to expect and see the diversity.”

a woman speaking during a demonstration
The Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program promotes and advances diversity initiatives to impact, mentor, professionally develop and socialize nurses who want to subsequently move into graduate nurse anesthesia programs.
a man getting hands-on experience
CRNAs are solely focused on anesthetic care, which includes intubating patients. A program attendee practices intubating a simulation training device.

Margaret Smith is a Chicago-based freelance editor and writer whose work largely focuses on current sociopolitical happenings.

CURRENT ISSUE
Stories