The Difficult Road To Becoming a CRNA

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As a student registered nurse anesthetist (SRNA), Ruby experienced some of her darkest moments. She was dismissed from her Certified Registered Nurse Anesthesia (CRNA) program, learned of her husband’s infidelity and endured a nasty divorce all while in CRNA school. Most people would just give up and throw in the towel.

Read: How to Become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

However, today Ruby is a CRNA who resides and works in Virginia. She is also the owner of CPR Nvision, a speaker, mentor and now author. In her autobiography book, Greatness Is In You: Testimonials of a Student Registered Nurse Anesthetist, Ruby shares her journey on the road to becoming a CRNA. She gives an inside look into one of the most rigorous programs in the country and how she overcame it all. I was fortunate enough to be in the trenches with her through some of her journey. And I recently had the pleasure of interviewing my friend, Ruby Gardiner, for the CRNA Chase.

Q. I would love it if you would tell me and everyone a little bit about who you are and your story?

A. Thank you so much, Kiki, for having me on The CRNA Chase. It’s such a pleasure to have the opportunity to talk to you about who I am and my story. I’m a CRNA originally from the DC/MD area. I currently live and work in the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia as a CRNA. I am Ghanaian and a proud mom to a wonderful 12 year old.

My story is one that is an inspirational story. In my book, Greatness Is In You: Testimonials of a Student Registered Nurse Anesthetist, it speaks of my CRNA school journey. It talks about where my inspiration to become a CRNA came from. The drastic steps I took in applying to CRNA school and getting into the program. Then it speaks to the trials and tribulations of what I had to endure once in the program. From there, I give the readers insight into my perseverance and how I made it through. And I conclude the book by showing that with God all is possible.

Q. So what did you find to be the most challenging thing about your journey while in CRNA school?

A. There were several things that were most challenging for me. I discuss them in the book. But the one thing that was very, very hard and very challenging was being a mother away from my school aged daughter. My daughter was about seven years old at the time. Being in a different state from her, which was about eight hours away. It was very hard to focus on school initially and go about my daily activities and routines. Just the unknown of not seeing her was hard. I would wonder at times what she was eating for dinner, how her day was at school. That was a very challenging experience for me. Another challenging event was the stress of the anesthesia program. It was sometimes almost unbearable. I have never encountered that kind of stress ever in my life. And so those trials and tribulations combined with various other things were all very challenging aspects of my experience in CRNA school.

Read: Managing Stress During Your CRNA Journey And Beyond

Q. Were the challenges and tribulations what led you to write your book Greatness Is In You: Testimonials of a Student Registered Nurse Anesthetist?

A. I think the most prominent thing that led me to write this book was my desire to want to give back and help future SRNAs. I really want to help someone that might be in my situation one day. For the nurses, SRNAs, and those who don’t have any idea about what the nurse anesthesia program is about. But they would like some insight into how to go about becoming a CRNA or dealing with challenging times. Basically, just helping that individual to know that it’s possible, you can do it. I did it. And so can you.

Q. So at what point did you feel like your journey might lead to a book one day? Did you go into it thinking I’m just gonna journal about my story? Or did you really have this in mind from the start?

A. I didn’t have writing a book on my mind from the start. I am usually very reserved and never thought I could be transparent enough or bold enough to ever write about my life or my experiences. It came to me probably around my 2nd year in the program. And this was after journaling about my experiences after I had gone through all those tribulations. To be really honest and transparent, at times I would hear the Lord Say I want you to tell your story. So, it became more apparent to me that God wanted me to put that story in a book to share with the world. And so I knew right away then it was something I was going to do eventually. The amazing part was I had already started because I had already journaled for years.

Q. So, what do you want others to take away from reading your book?

A. What I want my readers to take away from this is the understanding that there is greatness in you. There is greatness inside of all of us. And that God has created all of us individually and uniquely great to do whatever he has placed upon us. I want individuals to stay encouraged and persevere through rough times and to never give up.

And I really think that my takeaway message in this book is to recognize that they’re gonna be challenges in life. There’s going to be set backs here and there. They’re going to be hard times. They’re going to be trials. They’re gonna be ugly moments, messy moments. But the overarching goal and purpose for each individual is to recognize that you can surpass everything that has negatively affected you and turn it into a positive by trusting in God.

Q. is there any other advice you would give to a student that’s going through similar things while working to further their education.

A. I’m not perfect and I don’t claim to know everything. I’m not saying that I know the exact tools on how to make it through CRNA school. But what I do know is that if you put in the hard work and if you trust in God he will lead you through. I’m a testament of that. And all the stories in my book are testaments of that as well.
During school I went through a divorce roughly the entire time I was in the program. I encourage any student who may be going through that while their in school to get help right away. It’s not something that I would advise you to keep to yourself. Going through a divorce can be a very difficult, emotional and physically draining process. It would help to inform your program director about what’s going on so that they can guide you with assistance or help right away. Also attending counseling can help to provide mental clarity. Just talking through what’s going on in your personal life may make a tremendous difference. Lastly, I do want to say make sure you have a confidante, someone that you trust to talk to about what’s going on. Someone that will call and check on you. It really helps with your mental health. So those would be my recommendations.

Q. Were there any things that was more difficult to deal with than others while in the program?

A. I had never really experienced racial discrimination. So that was more difficult for me. I really wanted to talk about it and also be transparent in the book about it as well. There may be some students that have had that experience or that are actually going through that same thing. I would encourage them to get help about it right away. Racial discrimination is not okay and it needs to end. My advice to any student or SRNA is to encourage them to definitely seek help right away from their program director, and then from there just follow it through, because it may not stop at your program Director. That individual may have to climb the ladder to get to a higher person until the situation or issues are resolved.

Q. What do you say to that student who says, I know this isn’t fair, but I really don’t want to report it due to possible backlash?

A. The most important thing that I would have to say is to think about others that are coming behind you. In my experience I was thinking- if I just keep quiet because of fear, allow fear to dominate me, keep quiet about what happened, accept it and just take it, what’s gonna happen to my daughter for example if in maybe five years from now she decides to go to CRNA school and the same thing happens to her. Because fear has never helped anyone.

And in order to break a cycle, we need more leaders that are willing to be confident and stand up, point something out when it’s wrong so that it can be rectified and changed. And that’s what I would say that I did.

Q. How has life changed for you since becoming a CRNA?

A. Kiki, life has changed dramatically since becoming a CRNA. I definitely feel like I have a position of more responsibility as a leader and I don’t take that for granted. I take that as an opportunity to give back and teach to those looking up to me. I have learned so much about financial literacy that I didn’t know before becoming a CRNA. I’ve also learned to stay humble and that humility is key.

Q. I get this question a lot- was the hard work and struggle worth going to nurse anesthesia school? Would you say that it was worth it for you?

A. Yes, I would say it was worth it. I have no regrets, even with what I went through. Now would I wanna go through it all again? Probably not but I’d say it was definitely worth it. It made me a stronger individual. I matured and it allows me to be in this situation where I can help and give back to others. And I’m grateful for it.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about your CRNA journey or the work you’re doing now?

A. I’m not sure where I’ll go with this or how far this will take me. You know, what avenues this will put me in. But I’m hopeful, and I’m open to the opportunity to be encouraging, a motivator and uplift individuals. And I look forward to what the future holds. I look forward to what God has in store for my life.

I hope you enjoyed this transparent interview with Ruby Gardiner, MSNA, CRNA. You can purchase her book at your local stores such as Walmart and Barnes & Noble. It is also available on Amazon. Ruby can be reached at

P.S. Leave a comment below if you found this article useful. Also be sure to get on the waiting list for the launch of CRNA Chase Academy coming in the next few weeks!


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