Mick Ellis, SRNA: Family, Faith, and Fostering the Next Generation of CRNAs


When the youth leaders at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Knoxville asked if anyone in the congregation would be willing to share information about their jobs at a career day for boys and girls ages 11-18, Mick Ellis, SRNA, seized upon the opportunity.

“The youths had about 10 minutes at each booth to ask questions and listen to me tell them about how much schooling is involved and what are some of the best parts of being a CRNA,” says Mick, who will graduate this August from the CRNA program at the University of Tennessee Knoxville (UTK). To say that he made an impression would be an understatement!

Mick credits the faculty at his program for letting him borrow an intubation dummy and airway devices (LMA, ETT, oral) to allow the kids to try their hand at intubation. Not surprisingly, the dummy head sitting on the table in his booth caught a lot of kids’ attention.

“The message I tried to leave them with is that being a CRNA is awesome and you get to do some really cool things,” Mick says. “It was hard to fit all the stuff I wanted to share with them into 10 minutes, but just being able to show them how an endotracheal tube works and what your vocal cords look like really made them that much more interested.”

Mick recalls that some of the kids were nervous about trying an intubation, but some came back after the event was over and asked to do it again. “I had one girl who was unsuccessful putting the tube into the esophagus on her first try, so she came back and tried again and did it perfect,” he says. Over the next few days, Mick heard from some of the parents that their kids couldn’t stop thinking about what he had taught them. “Apparently, they just kept saying it was ‘so cool!’” he says with a smile.

It’s fair to say that Mick got as much out of the experience as the kids who stopped by his booth. “I’d love to do it again,” he confirms. “It seems that everyone has heard of anesthesiologists, but often when I say I’m a nurse anesthetist people have no idea what that is. So it’s nice to show people what CRNAs are and what we are capable of.” Mick adds that it was particularly rewarding to introduce young people to the possibility of careers they may not have heard of before. With CRNA programs getting more and more competitive each year, helping kids start early will only make them better candidates in the future, he believes.

Mick’s advice for other SRNAs or CRNAs interested in this sort of community outreach is straightforward. “Don’t be afraid to speak up and advocate for our profession. When someone makes the profession look good, it makes us all look good.  By taking advantage of opportunities like my church’s career event for youth to educate and teach people about what we do, we can increase awareness and excitement about our profession.”

Born and raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mick says family and faith are the most important things in his life. “But to provide for my family and help those in need, I have to develop the gifts that God has given me,” he explains. “He has given me the ability and desire to take care of the sick and afflicted.  I use this as motivation every day to make sure I do my best and that my patients are taken care of.”

At 19, Mick went on a two-year mission for the church in Mexico. “There I brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to many people,” he says. “I also learned Spanish on that mission, which has helped me tremendously as an SRNA.”

He married his high school sweetheart, Michelle, in the Salt Lake City Temple in 2011 and they have three children ages 8, 6, and 4. The family attends services every Sunday, and Mick teaches Sunday school while Michelle works with the young women of the church.

“My relationship with God is very personal,” Mick explains. “I know He lives and loves me.  I know He can guide and direct me through personal revelation.  God loves us so much that He sent His son to die for us.  I know His son Jesus Christ lives.  I know that He suffered for my sins and died for me so that I could live again and be reunited with Him.”

It was during a deeply emotional and spiritual time in Mick’s life when his journey to becoming a CRNA began. “I decided I wanted to be a nurse when I helped my mother through her battle with cancer, which she ultimately lost in 2009,” he recalls. “During nursing school I discovered what a CRNA was and made the decision that is what I wanted.” He graduated from Utah Valley University with his BSN and worked four years in intensive care before getting accepted into the nurse anesthesia program at UTK. He’s 100 percent certain he made the right choice.

“The beauty of being in anesthesia is that one day I can be doing spinals and epidurals for a cesarian section and the next day I can be doing anesthesia for a craniotomy.  It’s hard to get bored when you get to be a part of so many different surgeries,” he says. “I would say every surgical experience impacts me and helps me learn. I try to treat every patient as someone special and try to see them as if they were my family or a friend.”

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