Paying it Forward: The Mentor Mindset of TANA’s Linda Hill, CRNA

Linda Hill, DNSc, DNP, CRNA,For long-time TANA member Linda Hill, DNSc, DNP, CRNA, mentoring SRNAs and new CRNAs on how to get involved in and give back to the profession she loves is simply her way of “paying it forward.” She wouldn’t have it any other way. 

A nurse for 35 years, CRNA for 26, and nurse anesthesia educator for the last 25, Linda’s already impressive resume got the proverbial “cherry on top” this year when she was inducted as a Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (FAANA) on Aug. 13 during the AANA Annual Congress in Chicago.

“I’m both humbled and amazed,” Linda said, noting that she cried when she read the letters of support she received from various colleagues. “I have done some good things in my career, but this is quite an honor. Best of all,” she said with a chuckle, “the director of the School of Nursing and the dean of our college are on cloud 9 right along with me!”

Presently the coordinator and program administrator of the University of Tennessee Chattanooga (UTC) Nurse Anesthesia Concentration, Linda is profoundly grateful for the boundless support and encouragement she’s received from so many different people over the years. In fact, it was her close friend and colleague, Terri Durbin, PhD, DNP, CRNA, APRN, who convinced her she should apply to be considered for the fellowship.  

Linda has come a long way from when she became the first member of her family to earn a college degree. She received her associate’s degree in nursing from Southwest Tennessee Community College in Memphis in 1987, then attended the UT Health Science Center College of Nursing in Memphis where she earned her bachelor’s of science in nursing, with honors, in 1993. She thanks Dr. Michael Carter, DNSc, DNP, FNP/GNP-BC, FAAN, dean of the college of nursing, for recruiting her to UT. 

After passing her boards, Linda worked as an ICU nurse in a liver transplant center in Memphis. There she got to know many of her CRNA colleagues and became fascinated by the work they did. It was the mentorship of one CRNA in particular, the late Becky Barnett, that got her to start thinking seriously about a career in nurse anesthesia. But it was her husband, Brett, who strongly encouraged her to take the leap. 

“Brett passed away suddenly seven years ago,” Linda said, her voice cracking. “I thought my life would end. But it didn’t. I dedicated myself to the creation of a DNP program at UTC, focused on my students, and stayed positive and productive by giving back.”

Convinced that becoming a CRNA was the right choice for her, she shared her interest with Dr. Carter, who recommended that she pursue her nurse anesthesia education at Rush University College of Nursing in Chicago. She did just that, finishing her master’s in 1996 and earning her first doctorate in 1998. 

After becoming a CRNA, Linda moved back to Memphis and contacted TANA legend Patty Cornwell, CRNA, for advice. “Patty was so kind and inspirational,” Linda recalls. “She told me ‘get on a committee—volunteer your time!’” Patty’s mantra for all young CRNAs was to get involved with their professional association, and Linda took Patty’s impassioned message to heart. In the years since, she has served on numerous TANA committees and the Board of Directors, including as president in 2016-17. “I followed in the footsteps of some great TANA leaders—Patty, Don Bell, John Preston, and many others. They not only encouraged me to get involved at the state level, but at the national level as well,” she said. 

“All these people who had a profound influence on me throughout my career are why I’m determined to be a positive role model for those who are coming up behind my generation,” Linda said. She still marvels at the time FY22 TANA President Brad Koss, DNAP, CRNA, APN, reminded her that he met her when he was a student and “you lit a fire in me.” 

“Brad’s just an outstanding president, and it does my heart good to know I impacted his career in such a positive way,” she said.

So what’s next for Linda Hill? “I worked really hard to get our DNP curriculum approved and the first DNP group accepted,” she said without hesitation. “I want to be here when that group finishes in 2024. I’m having fun mentoring them. I simply love what I do.”

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