Nurse Anesthesia Students in Action: Ecuador

In honor of National CRNA Week 2020, some of our nurse anesthetist program students shared their reflections and photos from their January medical mission to Ecuador with Blanca's House. 

three students at in front of plane.

The nurse anesthesia profession is proud of its commitment to quality education to provide students with the scientific and experiential foundations to become competent anesthesia professionals. Our nation's 54,000 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists deliver safe and effective care in every setting, and they are the primary providers of anesthesia care in medically-underserved rural America.

Statement from Cheryl Spulecki, Nurse Anesthetist Program Director, UB SON

Cheryl Spulecki.

As one of the most trustworthy professions, I am proud to call myself a nurse as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. I celebrate this profession and the role I have providing cost effective, safe, and accessible anesthesia care.  It is no secret CRNAs have impacted the health care community through their vigilant expertise in administering all forms of anesthesia services,  with an outstanding safety record proven through evidence-based research and best practice. In the advanced practice role as a  doctoral or master’s prepared nurse, CRNAs can confidently say their care makes a difference in patient’s lives every day.  We have the opportunity to provide a holistic approach to safe anesthesia care as the patient advocate, using our leadership skills, interprofesional partnerships, and scholarly practice. I am privileged to have the opportunity to provide optimal care as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.  

As we start off CRNA Week 2020, we proudly proclaim:

“CRNAs: Your Comfort. Your Care. We Are There”

Congratulations to my fellow colleagues and current students.

-Cheryl Spulecki, DNAP, ACNP, CRNA
Program Director, Nurse Anesthetist Program, University at Buffalo School of Nursing

In January 2020, I participated in a medical volunteer hosted by Blanca’s House, an organization founded by a New York nurse anesthetist in 2008. I participated in the 57th trip Blanca’s House has hosted with four of my fellow third year DNP nurse anesthesia classmates. We traveled to Loja, Ecuador, to perform pediatric plastic surgeries, as well as adult general surgery.
From an anesthesia standpoint, the people of Ecuador were very naïve in regards to narcotics and sedatives. It was also common to encounter patients with reactive airways, despite not having a smoking history, which was most likely due to poor air quality. Some of the common patient conditions we experienced that were unique to Ecuador were cleft palates and polydactyly.
The children's courage and cooperation in the perioperative period was most remarkable. Even the youngest patients aged one to two years old endured peripheral IV insertion before arriving to the operating room, and those in recovery were most brave and patient with the staff of strangers. 
From January 4-January 11th I had the opportunity to join a mission trip to Loja, Ecuador. During this time, I performed anesthesia for pediatric patients as well as adults. These operations included cleft palate repairs, syndactyly repairs, hernia, and gallbladders. Not only was I able to help patients get surgeries they needed, I learned about many of the limitations that other people face when it comes to health care. Many of these patients could not afford the surgeries and traveled from various locations just for the opportunity to be seen by the Blanca’s House team.