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Nurse Anesthesia Student Reflects and Looks Towards the Future

Penn Nursing student, Jayme Decker, couldn’t be more confident in her decision to become a Nurse Anesthetist.

I’ve wanted to be a Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) ever since I had the opportunity to shadow in high school. I spent an exciting day in an OB/GYN department doing gynecological cases and C-sections. It was eye opening to say the least! I was diligent when researching what I needed out of an education to achieve my goals, and so when the time came for me to apply for my nurse anesthesia graduate degree, I had a laundry list of requirements. Penn Nursing checked all of my boxes: it is in a large city; students have access to a network of world-class hospitals with strong teaching facilities; there is an integrated didactic and clinical model for teaching; and I would have exposure to incredible pediatric cases.

Penn has not disappointed! I have been incredibly fortunate to have an amazing rotation schedule, which forms the backbone of one’s practice after graduation. My primary clinical rotation site is Pennsylvania Hospital where I have been since the beginning of my clinical rotations in August 2015. There, I am exposed to a large volume and variety of cases, ranging from complex ENT procedures to OB deliveries – the most deliveries, in fact, in the Philadelphia area. My primary pediatric rotation was at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), where I spent three humbling months witnessing the complexity of genetic defects in the children they see every day. I was also selected to rotate through the CHOP cardiothoracic anesthesia department and got a glimpse of the incredible cardiac-defect repairs the surgical teams perform there.

By the time I graduate in May, I will have completed six rotations, including my last, a night-trauma rotation at Cooper in Camden. Although all of my rotations have been rewarding, I have a real passion for pediatric anesthesia. I found my CHOP rotations to really stand out and greatly influence my practice and my career trajectory.

Now that I’m half-way through my senior year, I realize that the second and final year is the time that the program really picks up speed for students on a personal level. I have been at my course of study for more than a solid year, with little in the way of time off, and am becoming more and more confident with my practice—developing stronger skills for airway management, putting critical thinking skills to work on a daily basis, and refining crisis management skills while gaining independence. It is a lot of pressure and everyone in the program holds themselves to an incredibly high standard. Knowing that I have just a few months left in the program makes this an incredibly exciting time. Reality is setting in and the stress over graduation and taking boards is growing. I have looked forward to this moment since I was a junior in high school, and I’m so happy to say that I couldn’t be more confident that this is the career for me. I love it!


Jayme Leigh Decker (GNu’17) BSN, SRNA, CCRN
Penn Nursing MSN Nurse Anesthesia program candidate