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DNP Student Talks About Challenging and Rewarding Program

Logan MacLean, Penn Nursing DNP Nurse Anesthesia student, discusses his appreciation for the program as well as the field.

As a newly-minted registered nurse working at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) in the Pediatric ICU, my professional interests began to take shape around extremely sick and complex patients who required endotracheal intubation and/or mechanical ventilation with paralytic, sedative, and/or vasoactive infusions. This served to reinforce my long-standing interest in nurse anesthesia, an interest that begin while I was an undergraduate pursuing my BSN at Penn.

The nurse anesthetists I shadowed inspired me with their incredible knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and emergency protocols. Not only did they excel in their expertise, but they also had the bedside manner and respect for patients that an experienced nurse should have.

I knew without a doubt that one day I would go back to school for an advanced degree in nurse anesthesia. After two years of bedside nursing, I took the plunge and entered the University of Pennsylvania’s Doctor of Nursing Practice - Nurse Anesthesia program. 

Following two semesters of in-class didactic learning and the last final of fall term, my class began our clinical rotations. This happened to coincide with the beginning of Penn’s ‘winter break,’ traditionally a restful period of time off with family and friends. However, given the intense and competitive nature of the DNP program, every minute counts, and it turns out that these were to be some of the most exhausting, yet equally rewarding, weeks of my career. My first week of clinical started with my alarm sounding at 4:15 am, and then a bike ride to the hospital, not arriving home until around 4 pm for five days of the week. Evenings were spent documenting my cases from that day as well as researching procedures, complications, and anesthesia considerations for the next day’s cases.

It was during these long days that I met some of the most knowledgeable clinicians, who were more than willing to take the extra time to share their knowledge and experience with me. Over the three weeks of clinical during winter break, I was able to see myself grow in my own knowledge, under the patient guidance and watchful care of my preceptors. Questions and situations that originally resulted in uncertainty and inaction at the beginning, slowly turned into responses and action by the end. Anesthesia equipment that looked and felt alien to me on day one, slowly became familiar and more comfortable to operate.
What I learned most over winter break is just how talented and brilliant the anesthesiologists and CRNAs I work with are, and just how much I still have to learn and experience before I will be able to react as quickly as they do to changes in their patients’ conditions. That said, these past few weeks, although tiring to be sure, have also proven beyond a doubt that this is the right field for me. Each day as I head home from clinical, I am motivated to keep pressing on with my training, building skills so that one day I will be able to deliver the excellent care that I continually see given by the clinicians around me.  


Logan MacLean (Nu’14, W’14, GRN’19) BSN, SRNA
Penn Nursing DNP - Nurse Anesthesia program candidate