October Spotlight – Philip Hernandez MSNA, APRN, CRNA
New Hampshire is a very special place to Philip because it is where he found his footing as a professional. He was always interested in human physiology and pharmacology and dreamed of going into medical school. However, as a young adult, Philip met many nurses who were very happy with their career. He decided to enter an associate’s degree nursing program at Manchester Community College to pursue a career as an emergency/trauma nurse and eventually become an emergency/trauma physician. During his RN training, he applied and was accepted for a PACU externship at Catholic Medical Center and was very impressed at the independence and autonomy nurse anesthesiologists enjoyed while performing cardiac anesthesia. He purchased a copy of Watchful Care and this text coupled with the PACU externship ultimately led him to conclude that he had to become a nurse anesthesiologist, a healthcare professional whose understanding and manipulation of human physiology to meet well-defined clinical endpoints is seldom matched by any other medical or nursing professional. Philip graduated and worked as an adult intensive care nurse at Concord Hospital, specializing in trauma, cardiac, and neurology. “I can still remember my wonderful colleagues and amazing preceptors.” After 3 years and earning a BSN from the University of New Hampshire, he transferred into pediatric intensive care at the University of Minnesota Medical Center Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. During his time there he specialized in congenital heart defects and organ transplant medicine. He also became a high-fidelity simulation specialist and would run real-time in-hospital pediatric code blue scenarios as an evidence-based performance improvement initiative which yielded excellent results. Philip then applied and was accepted into the Minneapolis School of Anesthesia.
“I remember how thrilling my time was as a nurse anesthesiologist resident, my lifelong passion to become a nurse anesthesiologist was within reach and my leadership qualities were realized as class president and student representative of the Minnesota Association of Nurse Anesthetists.” Philip was awarded the Agatha Hodgins Award for clinical and didactic performance, spear-headed a very successful engagement strategy for the Friends of Minnesota Nurse Anesthetists Political Action Committee, organized our anesthesia program’s annual education seminar, and even secured a segment on the evening news highlighting SRNAs giving back to charity during our rigorous graduate training. However, he was not prepared for the difficulty he confronted to simply learn how to practice his craft in order to become an independent anesthesia provider. Philip was very fortunate to have rotated to CRNA-only practice sites because it reignited the love he had for anesthesia. Thankfully his attendance at the Mid-Year, Fall Leadership, and Annual Congress events further inspired him due to no shortage of the amazing leadership that filled the ranks of nurse anesthesiologists.
Upon graduation, Philip traveled the country and world to find a practice that would provide the right balance of challenge, autonomy, and fulfillment. He traveled to New York, Texas, Guam, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, and now finds himself right back to where it started here in New Hampshire. “I couldn’t be happier to return to New Hampshire and continue our noble tradition of practicing as an independent nurse anesthesiologist.” He has also performed anesthesia mission trips in Colombia, South America. Now after practicing for almost 5 years and having been hired twice to replace a physician anesthesiologist in obstetric and ambulatory surgery settings, he is focusing his energies in applying for acceptance into a DNP program and preparing the next generation of independent nurse anesthesiologists in advanced regional and opioid free anesthesia at Wentworth Surgery Center where he serves as Co-Director of Anesthesia Services. When not practicing anesthesia, Philip travels the world with his wonderful husband, Natanael, as they experience the many beautiful cultures, people, food, and music this vast world we live in offers. “Thank you NHANA for this nomination, I will continue to do my part to promote and defend our practice in one of the greatest, if not the best state to practice as a Nurse Anesthesiologist.”
What His Colleagues Say About Him…
Collegiality, commitment, and courage are some of the words that come to mind when describing Philip. Philip makes time for his colleagues, whether it be showing them new block tips or techniques, to collaborating on patient care in order to achieve best practice outcomes, or joining in on a laugh, he is ever present and ready to assist in anyway he can. Philip’s ability to create an environment conducive to excellence in all aspects of care is a pleasure to witness. He challenges himself and his colleagues to provide the safest and most cutting edge anesthesia, while elevating them and their practice to levels they didn’t realize they could achieve.
His commitment to providing outstanding care to his patients is ever present. An uncanny ability to put patients at ease quickly and effortlessly, all while at a bustling surgery center pace, is to say it simply…fun to watch. He manages to brighten everyone’s day just by being present and listening. He is a fearless advocate for patient autonomy and decision making. Philip empowers his patients to navigate their peri-operative experiences with knowledge and feelings of being heard and control. Philip’s cool, calm demeanor conceals a fearless champion for full practice authority for Nurse Anesthesiology. He leads by example, holding himself and his colleagues to high standards of practice excellence, he and his fellow Co-Director of Anesthesia Services have created a practice that serves their community and our profession far more than words do it justice. He embodies the defining characteristics of a true leader and someone who will accomplish big things within our profession.
8 Quick Questions To Get To Know You Better…
- Top 3 hobbies/interests outside of work?
The 3 Ts: Traveling, derivative trading, and training
- Favorite thing to do in NH?
Hike the White Mountains & Sail on Lake Winnipesaukee
- Mountains or Seacoast?
- If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
3 way tie between Villa De Leyva, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Madrid, Spain
- Hardest anesthesia concept in school to figure out?
The dreaded clotting cascade.
- Pedi or Adults?
- CRNA you look up too? WHY?
I look up to the late Dr. Kathryn White who was the anesthesia program director at the University ofMinnesota School of Nursing. Our time together serving on the board when I was a student representative of MANA was one of the greatest gifts this profession has ever given me. Her tireless dedication to the teaching and advocacy of nurse anesthesiology is forever ingrained in me. Her memory compels me to do better, do more, and to give back to our noble profession.
- Top 3 bucket lists items?
Travel to every country in the world, dance salsa as good as my husband can, and become fluent in Italian and French.
One piece of advice you’d like to impart to future CRNA’s?
Read Watchful Care, if you haven’t already done so. Sooner or later you will come to learn how our beloved practice is constantly under siege. However, it is because we practice our craft so well and so safely that we will nearly always have a place at the patient’s side during their surgical procedures.
Give back to the profession in whatever way you can because it is only through our collective stewardship that future generations of nurse anesthesiologists enjoy the privileges that we do. Furthermore, because this profession demands so much of us, please make sure you make room for self-care. Spend lots of time doing whatever makes you happy and healthy.