AANA Journal publishes article by Leigh Taylor

The AANA Journal has published an article by MTSA Assistant Program Administrator Leigh Taylor, DNP, MS, CRNA, in its June issue. Substance Abuse and Misuse Identification and Prevention: An Evidence-Based Protocol for CRNAs in the Workplace focuses on combating substance use disorder among anesthesia providers.

Leigh Taylor, DNP, MS, CRNA
MTSA Assistant Program Administrator

The idea for Taylor’s research came from her experience with a close friend and healthcare worker who attempted suicide. Taylor recognized that CRNAs spend considerable time and energy caring for patients and that, oftentimes, they don’t have the resources or ability for self-care. She said these were the concerns that informed much of her doctoral work.

“In the anesthesia community, we have a very high incidence of substance use disorder,” Taylor said. “There are many theories about why: The drugs are accessible in the workplace; providers work alone without supervision; the work environment is high-stress with little attention on coping skills to manage the stress and long hours.”

According to Taylor, the most recent statistics showed that one in 10 anesthesia providers has a substance use disorder, and that the incidence is becoming more prevalent in providers who have been in the field less than five years. “That data is disturbing to me. Those are my students,” she said.

Taylor said she began to question why there wasn’t more action being taken in the workplace to prevent this issue, which is what led her to conduct the research and write the article.

Part of her research included best practices and data from the U.S. Department of Transportation—which she said also has a large incidence of substance use disorder—Substance and Mental Health Services Administration, National Institute of Drug Abuse, and similar agencies in other countries.

From that research, Taylor created a workplace protocol that has eight components to help early-identify and prevent substance abuse and misuse for CRNAs in the workplace. She said her hope for those reading the article is to decrease the stigma and shame associated with substance use disorder and to provide an evidence-based approach for anesthesia groups or departments to implement protocols for prevention and identification.

“When I presented this research at the AANA Conference last summer, many who walked by would say, ‘We need these protocols in our workplace.’ We all know someone who has been affected by this issue,” Taylor said.

She added, “I feel very passionate about this. I feel that our own wellness is something we don’t focus enough on, even though it’s a primary focus with our patients. But we can do better. If we can help CRNAs take better care of themselves, then we might be able to decrease the incidence of substance use disorder that afflicts our anesthesia community.”

In addition to her role as Assistance Program Administrator at MTSA, Taylor is a CRNA with AMG and practices at Saint Thomas West Hospital in Nashville. She is in the process of completing the AANA’s training to become a peer wellness advisor, a role that provides assistance to CRNAs who are experiencing a crisis. The AANA Peer Assistance Helpline is available by calling (800) 654-5167.

Taylor earned her master’s degree in nurse anesthesia at MTSA, graduating in 2013. She said she couldn’t have finished her doctorate without the help of her husband Chris Janowiecki, along with her parents. She added that the drive for more education was to set an example for her daughters, Elliot (4) and Holland (2). Taylor and her husband also have a son, Wells, who was born in January.

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