Transforming CRNA practice: One nurse’s story

This is the third article of the APNs Transforming Care series brought to you by the Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future.

By Janice Petrella Lynch, MSN, RN A

li Baghai, MS, CRNA, knew he wanted to help people, but he wasn’t sure how. He decided to major in psychology in college hoping to

care for people like his mother who suff ered from mental illness. But his experiences at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a summer camp in Connecticut for children with cancer and other chronic and ter- minal illnesses, changed his life. While helping run a weekend retreat for campers with sickle cell anemia, Baghai cared for an adolescent in crisis, whose pain he couldn’t relieve. Refl ecting on that, he knew he’d found his calling and transferred to Boston College’s school of nursing. Baghai worked in pediatric emergency medicine and surgical

Ali Baghai, RN

must wake the patient at the right time, Baghai said, comparing his role to fl ying a plane. “It’s all about takeoff s and landings, doing it smoothly and properly to keep our patients safe.” As a CRNA, he has worked as an independent contractor at hospitals, pain clinics, and surgery and endoscopy centers. For the past three years he has worked full time at Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital in Arizona, where he serves as chief CRNA. Baghai has assumed a number of roles in the Arizona Association of Nurse Anesthetists, where

ICU at major medical centers for fi ve years after nursing school. Becoming a certifi ed registered nurse anesthetist was a seed planted in nursing school. It later germinated in the ICU because the knowledge, clinical skills and critical thinking of an ICU nurse are applicable to the CRNA role, he said. In 2006, Baghai was one of 15 people accepted into the CRNA

program at Midwestern University in Glendale, Ariz., out of more than 400 applicants. “I took to anesthesia like a duck to water and realized that being a CRNA was exactly what I was meant to do,” he said. Ten years later, Baghai still loves his role. “We have about 10

minutes to assess the patient, develop and discuss an anesthetic plan with the patient, and establish trust,” he said. “Then we become practical pharmacologists, administering correct medications at proper doses to place patients in an anesthetic state.” The caring side of anesthesia is a real draw for Baghai. Surgery

is a major stressor, and patients are vulnerable and need someone to calm their fears and ease them through the process, he said. Baghai’s work involves many technical aspects, including intubat-

ing; inserting central lines; and administering epidurals, spinals and peripheral nerve blocks, he said. He loves working with his hands to provide quality care. Once surgery is complete, the anesthetist

18 Visit us at • 2016

he is now president. He co-founded the CRNAs of Arizona PAC, and helps lead the Arizona APRN Coalition, whose goal is to gain full practice authority for the state’s APRNs. This past legislative session Baghai was asked to lead the coali-

tion, which presented “monumental legislation that met all IOM recommendations for practicing APRNs,” he said. “Despite our eff orts, the evidence, support from third-party groups, letters from nearly 200 independent physicians, thousands of letters and emails from constituents, and concessions our group made, we didn’t have enough votes to see our legislation through to law.” Although a disheartening experience, Baghai knew they had increased the public’s and legislators’ knowledge about the CRNA role, which was previously one of healthcare’s best kept secrets, he said. Three months since the coalition pulled its legislation, Baghai is bringing the group together to make another run with a diff erent strategy for the next legislative session, with some fresh ideas from new leaders, he said. “My juices are fl owing as we prepare for the next battle.” Hanging in his young son’s bedroom is a poster summing up

Baghai’s advice to others considering an APRN role: Shoot for the moon; even if you miss you will land among the stars. •

Janice Petrella Lynch, MSN, RN, is nurse editor/nurse executive.

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32