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Teaching Assistant Program


Recruitment and retention of nurse anesthesia faculty has traditionally been a challenge. One of the methods to overcome recruiting difficulties is to identify truly talented nurse anesthesia trainees and develop their love for education at the time that they are residents. Many trainees have a genuine interest in teaching, and we can provide them with the tools to develop skills to become future anesthesia educators while they are still in training themselves. The Teaching Assistant Program has been created to nurture these future educators, while also addressing our own need for more instructors in the correlations lab.

Our curriculum is structured as a front-loaded program, where the first 18 months of training are spent in the classroom learning the principles and theory of anesthesia as well as advanced health assessment, advanced pharmacology, physiology and pathophysiology. To reinforce that content, trainees spend nine months in Clinical Correlations Lab turning those ideas they learned about in lecture into practice. Topics and skills taught in the simulated environment are carefully crafted to specifically demonstrate the topics just presented in class as a way to solidify the learning. Working in groups in the state of the art simulation lab is the closest thing to real life patient care to ensure that our residents understand the concepts and can put them into practice.

This tightly woven curriculum and correlations is one of the most unique and powerful aspects of the RFU Nurse Anesthesia program. Teaching Assistants are an integral part of the correlations experience.

CRNA residents are permitted to apply to the TA Program after the summer quarter of their second year, at which time they would have completed two of the three correlations courses themselves. Applications for these competitive positions will be reviewed during the fall quarter, and the selected TAs will be notified prior to the beginning of their clinical residency. Following completion of their first 4-month clinical residency in the winter quarter, TAs will return to campus to assist with Clinical Correlations, instructor guided skills practice, and provision of concept review/tutoring of individual students. This is a great opportunity for nurse anesthesia residents to become acquainted with the process of instructional planning and implementation.

Interested in applying for the TA program? More information and download application.

Teaching Assistants for 2022-2023

Amber Neil, SRNA, Team 2023

Hi! My name is Amber Neil, and I am from Bear, Delaware. I completed my BSN at Delaware State University and my MSN at Wilmington University in nursing leadership. Prior to starting my DNP at Rosalind Franklin University, I had 8 years of nursing experience in a variety of different critical care areas. My ICU experience consisted of caring for surgical, trauma, neuro, and open heart patients. During my years as an ICU nurse, I also became an adjunct nursing instructor for Dominican University. During this time as a clinical instructor of senior nursing students on their critical care rotations, I developed a true passion for teaching. The TA program at Rosalind Franklin helped me tremendously during the didactic portion of the program. I want to extend the same guidance and support to the upcoming class of nurse anesthesia residents. I am very excited for this opportunity!

Lisa Smith, SRNA, Team 2023

Hello, my name is Lisa Smith. A fun fact about myself is that I am fluent in Japanese! I was raised in a military household; and as a result, I have lived in several places. I was born in Okinawa, Japan, grew up in Guam and spent most of my time living in the Lake County, IL area. For nursing school, I attended the University of Illinois at Chicago. Then, I worked as a float-pool Med-Surg RN for 1 year before moving to the neuro-ICU at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. After 5 years in that role, I was accepted to the DNP program at RFU. I thoroughly enjoyed working in a large teaching hospital and being a preceptor. I would not be where I am today without the guidance of passionate nurses and doctors. I am eager to assume my new role as a TA and help future nurse anesthesia residents translate and apply the knowledge gained in didactic into a more practical environment.

Kelley McCarthy, SRNA, Team 2023

My name is Kelley McCarthy, and I'm from Wisconsin, where I attended UW - Milwaukee for my BSN. I stayed in Milwaukee after graduation where I worked in the cardiovascular ICU at Froedtert Hospital for three years prior to starting at RFU. During my time as a nurse, I always enjoyed precepting because it challenged me to teach concepts or tasks to others in a way that matched their learning style. I am excited to serve as a TA for Team 24 and hope to help guide the application of didactic concepts in the simulation center in a way that further instills students' passion for anesthesia.

Avery Smith, SRNA, Team 2023

My name is Avery Smith, and I am originally from the Chicagoland area. I received my ADN from Oakton Community College and spent the majority of my 9-year nursing career at Lurie Children’s Hospital in the pediatric cardiac ICU. During my time at Lurie Children’s, I completed my BSN at Northern Illinois University and spent one year working on the critical care transport team. I love providing hands on care to patients and am passionate about learning how to deliver the best care possible. The amazing teaching assistants here at Rosalind Franklin University greatly enhanced my learning during our didactic training. I am excited to pay that forward by working with the next class to pass on any knowledge and experience that can help them along the way!

Teaching Assistants for 2021-22

Sawyer Henderson, SRNA, Team 22

My name is Sawyer Henderson. I am originally from Iowa, where I also attended the University of Iowa for my BSN. I stayed at the university hospital after graduating, where I worked in the surgical and neuroscience ICU for 1.5 years, before moving to Chicago and working in the MICU at Rush University. Having worked in academic teaching hospitals has allowed to observe many different teaching styles in medicine. I am looking forward to using what I have learned about educating healthcare providers and putting it to work with this opportunity to educate the next class of Nurse Anesthetists!

Sarah Hoffman, SRNA, Team 22

Hi! My name is Sarah Hoffman and I am originally from Grand Junction, CO. I relocated to Chicago, Illinois to pursue my career in nursing, which started at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in their surgical trauma ICU. I was a nurse there for 4 years prior to starting my DNP at Rosalind Franklin. During the 4 years as a critical care nurse, I spent part of my time teaching 4th year medical students clinical and technical skills. Though this opportunity I developed a passion for teaching and working with others to build interprofessional relationships. I look forward to continuing my passion and helping other students learn and grow into their new profession as anesthesia providers.

Eduardo Ornelas, SRNA, Team 22

My name is Eduardo Ornelas, and I am from the southwest suburbs of Chicago. During my senior year in nursing at Illinois State University, I had a nursing internship at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago on an orthopedic surgery unit, which then turned into my first nursing job. From there, I went on to work in their surgical trauma ICU prior to starting at Rosalind Franklin University. During my senior year at Illinois State, I also worked as a teaching assistant in the nursing simulation lab, which solidified my interest in teaching. It is my hope that by serving as a TA I can help enhance the learning of future anesthesia providers through simulation experiences that tie together both the theory and the practical knowledge of nurse anesthesia.

Peter Ferszt, SRNA, Team 21

My name is Peter Ferszt, and I am originally from the Metro Detroit area. I completed my BSN at a Michigan State University where I became passionate about nursing, medical anthropology, and public health. While in my senior year, I did a nursing internship at Northwestern in their surgical trauma ICU, where I later accepted my first job and continued to work as a critical care nurse until starting my DNP at Rosalind Franklin. Progressing through clinicals, I have developed an interest in regional, pediatric, and trauma anesthesia. I am very passionate about anesthesia and educating future anesthesia providers. I look forward to working with nurse anesthesia students and serving as a bridge between the theoretical and practical knowledge of nurse anesthesia.

Vanessa King, SRNA, Team 21

My name is Vanessa King and I am a current nurse anesthesia student. My background before starting school included working in a CV-ICU in Milwaukee, WI, and a Surgical Trauma ICU in Denver, CO. I have been a nurse for 6 years. Becoming a CRNA and eventually teaching has always been a dream of mine. Didactic learning was always harder for me than hands on clinical training as I know I learn better by doing. It has been my hope to bridge the gap for others when it comes to learning something in a book and being able to apply it in clinical practice. I know that being a teacher doesn’t require a title as much as it requires the willingness to help other learn and be patient as they navigate new skills. So, I hope that through being a TA I am able to learn new ways of communicating and leading that I can carry onward into my professional years.

Ashley Small, SRNA, Team 21

Hello! My name is Ashley Small, SRNA in Team 21. I have 9 years of RN experience, 7 of which were in critical care. I came to Rosalind Franklin from Seattle, WA where I worked in the Cardio-Thoracic ICU at University of Washington Medical Center. Before that, I served in the Army with a deployment to Baghdad, Iraq in 2005-2006. It was during my time in the military that I was drawn to the medical field, and came home to start my journey towards becoming a CRNA. This year I am excited to be the IANA student representative for Rosalind Franklin. One of my favorite parts of anesthesia is practicing regional anesthesia techniques. I am looking forward to helping teach hands on skills to team 22 to help prepare them for clinical.