2022 Black History Month

For Black History Month, TANA recognizes our Black CRNA and SRNA members for the safe, high-quality anesthesia care you provide to thousands of Tennesseans each year, and especially for your courage and dedication on the front lines of the ongoing fight against COVID-19. Thank you!

Today, 12 percent of the AANA membership—approximately 7,200 CRNAs and SRNAs—are people of color, and 3 percent (about 2,000) are African Americans. To help promote career opportunities in nurse anesthesia for Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American, and other nurses of color, Walena Gould, EdD, CRNA, FAAN, founded the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program. Learn more at https://diversitycrna.org/.

For Black History Month 2022 (February 1-28), do you have a brief, compelling message of inspiration, motivation, education, gratitude, or recognition you’d like TANA to share on our social media channels and website during BHM? Submit your story here.


COL Sheila Marie McCarley, DNP, CRNA

COL Sheila Marie McCarley, DNP, CRNA, is proud of what she’s achieved and committed to paying it forward. She shared her story with TANA in celebration of #BlackHistoryMonth 2022. “The picture of just me pays tribute to my ancestry and to my parents who inspired me,” she explained. “I am grateful for the motivation and encouragement they bestowed upon me!” Hailing from the formerly small town of Collierville, TN, Sheila said she “just may be the first African American Army Colonel born and raised there.” She still serves in the Army Reserves but plans to transition into retirement in the next couple of years. “Over the past 30+ years I've had the opportunity to excel in my civilian and military careers,” Sheila said. “It was not without struggles and obstacles, but here I stand, here I rise!” She recalls that when she decided to pursue a career in nurse anesthesia in the early ‘90s, she found it “a bit discouraging” to be told by certain program directors that due to her race the chance of being accepted into a CRNA program was very slim. “Needless to say, it just made me more determined!” Sheila said. “Today I’m ecstatic to see the wonderful diversity work being done by our professional organizations. I’m not taking anything for granted; just calling it all blessed.” Sheila currently lives in Eads, TN, and works at Baptist Women’s Hospital in Memphis where her main practice is labor and delivery. “I take great pride in any opportunity to speak to and inspire others to reach for the stars,” she said. “Whether it is at a church, high school, or university, each brings me joy to share my journey.” According to Sheila, the other picture is a DNP graduation photo shoot with a young lady who was born and raised in her church. “I've watched her grow up and now she is a nurse,” Sheila said. “Paid it forward…mission accomplished!” #BlackHistoryMonth

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Briana Covington, SRNA

Recently in my Professional Aspects anesthesia course we were assigned to choose a topic from a list of notable anesthesia events and people. After a quick skim through the list, I chose the name Goldie

Brangman. I thought “That’s an interesting name - should be an interesting person.” Little did I know how much I would learn about this inspirational figure! My research into Goldie and her impact on the countless anesthesia professionals she taught and guided led me to reflect on my own journey to become a nurse anesthetist.

I remembered my encounters with two influential colleagues (one a CRNA and the other an SRNA at the time) who truly served as role models for me, even if they didn’t know it! The CRNA took the time to answer the many questions of an unsure, hesitant nursing student seeking the courage to commit to a career as a CRNA. The SRNA welcomed my intrusion as an ICU nurse studying for my CCRN who just happened to stumble upon her while she was studying at Starbucks one day. Both of these remarkable ladies graduated from the very nurse anesthesia program I hoped to get into one day.

As African American women, both exemplified strength and determination in their pursuit of nurse anesthesia and continue to serve as role models for me on my own educational and professional journey. As the only African American SRNA in my current cohort, I think of them often when feeling overwhelmed with the challenges of CRNA school and absence of those who look like me within my environment. These women motivate me to carry on, and one day I hope to be the same inspiration for someone else that these ladies are to me. Just as Goldie Brangman demonstrated by becoming president of the AANA and accomplishing so much during her career, I too intend to show that women of color CAN and DO offer tremendous value to nurse anesthesia. I thank all who came before me for paving the way for students and women like myself to achieve success in this profession.

Briana Covington, SRNA
2022 MSN Nurse Anesthesia Cohort

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

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