CRNA Week Spotlight: Kris Rohde

Editor’s Note: National Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Week is January 22-28. To celebrate, the UNMC Department of Anesthesiology is featuring the unique personal and professional stories of various CRNAs in the department.

Kris Rohde, CRNA, discovered early on during her career in exercise science that her job didn’t challenge her physically or mentally, and she began searching for something new.

“I felt as if I could do more with my life. I really did not like my job. I felt as if I was getting dumber each day I sat at that desk,” Rohde said. “I was trying to figure out what to do, but for some reason, I had been ignoring all the wonderful nurses I knew who had been telling me to consider nursing.”

Following the advice of some friends, she left her desk job behind, applied to nursing school and hasn’t looked back. After earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, Rohde found fulfillment in pediatric intensive care units and as a traveling nurse.

Rohde had learned about CRNAs in her final weeks of nursing school, but she dismissed it at that time, thinking it would not be a good fit. During her time as a travel nurse, however, she gained the confidence to pursue a career as a CRNA.

“I thought anesthesia would be too stressful and too much responsibility. I put it out of my mind, became a PICU nurse – and I loved it,” Rohde said. “After three years, I decided to do travel nursing in California. While there, I became much more confident in my critical care skills. Having been thrown into new places where I was expected to learn the ropes quickly will accelerate that process.”

Having realized that she was selling herself short, Rohde realized that all she loved about working in the ICU would benefit her pursuit of a career as a CRNA. She applied for admission into the competitive program at Bryan College of Health Sciences and, as a backup, applied to nurse practitioner school.

“I ended up getting accepted to both, and I accepted a spot in the Bryan LGH program for nurse anesthesia,” Rohde said. “Luckily, it was the perfect fit for me. Sometimes you really need to listen to your friends and mentors, because they know you better than you know yourself.”

Rohde meets the challenge of working at Nebraska Medicine enthusiastically and appreciates that every day is an opportunity to learn and grow.

“This job has made me relearn a lot, become a better clinician, use critical thinking more and remember how much I love adrenaline at times,” Rohde said. “It’s the most challenging yet rewarding job I’ve ever done. UNMC is truly a unique place, and I’m very grateful for the learning opportunities I’ve had here, as well as the professional growth I’ve experienced.”

Rohde teaches and serves on the board of directors for the Nebraska Association of Nurse Anesthetists as a way to give back. Although this creates a challenge in maintaining a work/life balance, she feels an obligation to stay involved and says witnessing CRNA students transform from brand new students terrified of the OR to newly graduated CRNAs passing their boards is a source of pride.

“I have a hard time saying no to things I am passionate about,” Rohde said. “I feel that part of this job is helping CRNAs across Nebraska and the United States continue to work independently. It’s difficult being away from my family at times, but anesthesia is my job, and I rarely stop doing things for this profession after work is done.”

Outside of her professional demands, Rohde spends time at the gym as a way to decompress and relieve the stressors of work and life. She says her greatest joy is being a mother to her sons, Gavin and Harrison.

“They are smart, fun and loving, and they drive me crazy sometimes, but I could never have imagined how wonderful motherhood was until I experienced it myself,” Rohde said. “They make me proud every day.”

Rohde advises anyone contemplating a career as a CRNA to just do it. “Even if you’re questioning your skills or worried about the time commitment of school, it is worth it,” she said. “This is a very rewarding career, you can work anywhere in the country.”