It’s Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) week and at Northwell Health, we’re celebrating all week long. CRNAs are advanced practice registered nurses who provide anesthesia care to patients. These hardworking advanced practice nurses are responsible for patient safety before, during, and after anesthesia.
To start off our celebrations, we spoke with Michael Greco, Ph.D., DNP, CRNA who is the director of the Nurse Anesthesia Services at Northwell Health. It’s noble work that he feels privileged to be a part of, “my favorite part of being a CRNA is that there’s no other profession where you’re going to meet your patient for the first time and that patient is going to give you all of their trust to maintain their care and keep them comfortable when they’re at that most vulnerable. I am lucky to get to develop that instant relationship, to make the patient and their family feel comfortable, and deliver the high-quality care that they deserve.”
Through Northwell’s collaboration with Columbia University, Michael was introduced to Northwell and then offered the opportunity to lead and expand the nurse anesthesia practice and direct the Northwell Health nurse anesthesia program as it is being developed. The position was directly in line with his professional values to develop his students, staff and himself professionally and clinically. Now, he’s pushing the anesthetics services and agenda even further. Michael says, “I’m a firm believer of risk-taking, so I took a risk to leave a job I was comfortable in because I saw that there was an opportunity to further my professional mission.”
Working toward a mission is a sentiment Michael learned in his over 10 years of service as a nurse anesthetist in the military. He served in Iraq, Italy, Germany, and throughout the continental US including West Point Military Academy. Michael says his military service was invaluable to his growth, “No school, no seminar, and no course could equip me with the skills that I gained from serving in the United States Army.” Now, he’s using those skills to lead four CRNA teams, two in Staten Island and two in Manhattan.
Leading four teams is a lot of work, and Michael’s dedication to the various responsibilities in his role makes him a truly inspiring asset to Northwell Health. As a director of the Nurse Anesthesia Services, he oversees the education of CRNAs, holds training seminars, accredited by the national association of Nurse Anesthesia, to help educate staff and grow their knowledge on certain anesthesia principles. He supervises CRNAs practicing within their scope and ensures standards are met. Michael works closely to make sure operating rooms have enough coverage to run fluidly and no cases are delayed. He performs clinical appraisals and hires CRNAs. He’s responsible for employee oversight and is in constant communication with the staff in regards to compliance and best practice, as well as any employee issues that may arise. Simply, Michael is a huge asset to CRNAs at Northwell Health.
Michael is working to develop a robust CRNA program and increase the numbers of staff while also building partnerships with other schools like Rutgers University and Columbia University to bring students into the operating room and train the next generation of CRNAs. “I live by the standard that if I’m not developing my staff, I’m not doing my job. A career in Nurse Anesthesia requires a commitment to life-long learning, each and every staff member is on a continuous journey to pursue education – if not to return to school the journey is to read and appraise the literature with a scholarly mindset. This allows my staff to deliver the most current and evidenced supported care in their practice” With that mindset, Michael plans to take his staff into the simulation lab to look at high-risk situations, so they’re equipped with the skills and experience to provide care when complications arise.
“It’s an exciting time because the practice of being a CRNA at Northwell is evolving. Where else would you want to be? As the program evolves, opportunities will present themselves to further grow your career. There’s no better time to be part of the nurse anesthesia profession in this department than now.”
CRNA week is a great time to get out there and educate not only our nurses but the public on the importance of CRNAs. We’ll be using this week to put nursing at the head of the table. Every breath, every beat, every second, CRNAs are there providing top-notch care to their patients. Learn more about our CRNA opportunities here.