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Alumna breaking barriers for CRNAs

  • January 28, 2022
Photo of T'Anya Carter

By Hunter Carter

Only 3 percent of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) in the United States are Black. University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing alumna T'Anya Carter, PhD, CRNA (PhD 2021), is doing her part to improve that statistic.

“I am honored to be a part of such an elite and prestigious group, but it is also enlightening to know how few Black PhD CRNAs there are in our country,” Carter said. “Diversity is lacking. Black nurses only account for 10 percent of the workforce, so while this title is humbling, it also brings great responsibility.”

Carter said she never realized the impact of nursing workforce diversity on patient care until she listened to patients share how they felt to see someone who looks like them.

“When the nurses and physicians reflect the patient's demographic, communication improves and makes the patient feel more comfortable,” Carter said. “From my experience, patients get excited when they see a team that fits their demographic because we understand their culture, environment and customs.”

Before becoming a CRNA, Carter worked in an emergency department. That experience motivated her to take her career to the next level.

“I remember taking patients back to the ICU and the nurses asking the team questions that were out of our area of expertise,” Carter said. “Often, we would bring our CRNAs into the situation to help us provide answers. When I found out more about the work of CRNAs, I became intrigued and I knew I wanted to be one.”

Carter joined the surgical intensive care unit to shadow CRNAs and learn more about their roles within the hospital.

Carter's road to the UAB School of Nursing started when a colleague was working on research related to barriers to reentry to practice for CRNAs following substance abuse issues and found research by the School's CRNA faculty. Carter, whose research interest is the same, contacted the School to learn more and it led to her decision that UAB was the best place to earn her PhD.

“During my interview with the School my eyes were opened to the resources that UAB had for me to grow as a CRNA. After that interview, I was sold,” said Carter. “I was exposed to so much while earning my PhD. I benefitted from my mentors and dissertation committee who helped me along the way.”

Carter is a CRNA in Dallas, Texas. Her goals include completing the mixed method certification that UAB offers and opening her own substance abuse treatment center for nurses.

Last modified on January 28, 2022