Nurse Anesthesia Program Celebrates Newest Graduates

DECEMBER 7, 2015 – The Nurse Anesthesia Program in the Department of Nursing at the School of Nursing & Health Studies last Friday celebrated 28 new graduates during a special ceremony.

Donna Jasinski, PhD, CRNA, founding director of the program, welcomed the audience in Copley Formal Lounge, congratulated the graduates, and expressed her gratitude that the students would be entering a “great profession.”

“That bar is set very high,” Jasinski said, referring to the program’s academic rigor. “Not only did they meet it, they exceeded it.”

Values-Based Education

Patricia Cloonan, PhD, RN, the school’s interim dean, also welcomed the students and spoke about the ways their education has been framed by Georgetown’s Jesuit values.

Discussing the ways in which the graduates would be caring for individuals during “vulnerable times,” Cloonan reminded them, “You really are the voice for your patients.”

Student Reflection

Graduating student Emily Rucker (G’15), RN, was selected to deliver the student address and noted how hard she and her classmates had worked.

“Thank you to our professors for your guidance, for your support, for your leadership, and dedication to the profession of nurse anesthesia,” Rucker said. “I’d like to welcome all of the loved ones that are here to celebrate with us on this special day. It goes without saying that none of us could have done this without your continued love and support, especially when we didn’t think we could do this.”

During the rigorous learning experience of the 27-month program, a strong bond formed.

“You really figure out what you’re made of in those trying times,” she said. “But you also realize how many people love and support you as well.”

Pins and Honors

Ladan Eshkevari, PhD, CRNA, LAc, assistant program director, called each student to receive a special Georgetown pin.

The Tau Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, the international honor society of nursing, recognized several of the students. Ella T. Heitzler, PhD, WHNP, FNP, RNC-OB, vice president of Georgetown’s chapter, inducted new society members and distributed the research award.

New inductees include Lauryn B. Hildensperger (G’15), RN, Joanne Yujung Nguyen (G’15), RN, and Sheila Marie Vibert (G’15), RN.

Additionally, the Award for Excellence in Student Research recognized the project, “An Exploration of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists’ Knowledge of Medicare Reimbursement for Anesthesia Services,” by Melissa McGurk (G’15), RN, Lauryn B. Hildensperger (G’15), RN, Ana Kotsogiannis (G’15), RN, and Lauren Turner (G’15), RN.

Special Recognition

At the event, Nabil Azzam, PhD, a professor of neuroscience at Georgetown University Medical Center who has taught with the program since it began two decades ago, was recognized as he retires from the faculty.

“Dr. Azzam teaches with the enthusiasm of a first-year professor loaded with caffeine, and he’s the best at what he does,” said Rucker, who congratulated the seasoned professor on his retirement.

Jasinski seconded the sentiment.

“He is one of the most prized faculty [in our program],” she said. “[Emily’s] sentiments have been echoed year after year” in the students’ speeches.

By Bill Cessato

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