Independence, diversity, equity and financial freedom drive Dr. Donte A. Flanagan. Born and raised in Chattanooga, TN, those drivers are what carried him to a successful career as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). Today, he is dedicated to using his experiences with time management, resilience and courage to motivate diverse students to consider what has traditionally been a homogeneous profession. As a Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiologist, Dr. Flanagan serves as the Chair of the DEI committee of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), a founding member of National Black Nurses Association of Greater New York City (GNYCBNA), and president-elect of the Emory University School of Nursing Alumni Board. Through his professional work, community involvement and public speaking, Dr. D. A. Flanagan aims to serve as a prominent voice and advocate for diversity throughout the field of nurse anesthesia.

An advanced practice registered nurse in Louisiana, New York, Georgia, U. S. Virgin Islands, Alabama, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania, Dr. D. A. Flanagan has worked in 8 hospitals and medical centers over the last fifteen years. As a CRNA, he provides anesthesia to patients in the areas of electrophysiology, obstetrics, pediatrics, regional, urology, plastics, gastroenterology, neurological, thoracic, ear, nose & throat (ENT), orthopedics, cardiac, gynecology, and trauma.

We serve to prepare leaders in nurse anesthesia at the regional, national and international levels, while inspiring individuals from all walks of life to become change agents while advocating for equity throughout the healthcare system.


  • DNP, Columbia University, 2017
  • MSN, Samford University, 2010
  • BSN, Emory University, 2006

Social Justice

Today, he leads this initiative through his Bigger Dreams, Better Tomorrows Foundation, Inc. The non-profit actively works toward increasing the diversity and leadership within the Nurse Anesthesia Profession via added resources, training, support, and mentoring. Current initiatives include both the Faculty Development Program, a program designed to empower clinicians with the tools, training and support needed to succeed within the Academic setting, as well as the Dream Big Wellness Support Group, which meets monthly to support current SRNA’s of color by creating a safe space with guided sessions led by a licensed counselor. These programs along with the ongoing leadership positions and speaking engagements and research allows Dr. Flanagan to continue pushing forward the core values of DEI with ongoing accountability and action-centered progress in order to facilitate a cultural shift toward full equity and inclusion within the nurse anesthesia profession.


  • Various Guest Lecturer appearances - Duke University, South College, Union University
  • Simulation Instructor and Assistant - Columbia University, Oxford College of Emory University, Samuel
  • Merritt University School of Nursing, and University of August School of Nursing

Opportunities to Learn and Collaborate at Penn Nursing

Interest in wellness and DEI initiatives that increase access and empowerment within the profession and community.

Selected Career Highlights

  • Fellow of American Association of Nurse Anesthetist (FAANA)
  • Founder of Bigger Dreams, Better Tomorrows Foundation, Inc.
  • Author of Dream Big, medical memoir
  • Top Forty Under 40 (Emory University)
  • William Norton Outstanding Alumnus Award
  • Award of Honor (Emory University School of Nursing)
  • Motivational Speaker


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Welcome Back Spring 2024: A Message from Dean Villarruel

Welcome to Spring semester! I hope you had a restful winter break and peaceful holiday celebrations. The news of Claire Fagin’s passing has us united in grief and gratitude. A colleague, friend, leader—she believed in the excellence of the School and the value of each of us as individuals. She laid a strong foundation for who we are today—and what we will be tomorrow. 

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