Director – District 5
Nicole Damico

A message from Nicole Damico

Happy New Year to all! I hope you and your families are staying healthy and well as we continue to face the many challenges related to COVID-19. The ‘big event’ for District 5 this Fall was the 2020 virtual ‘Mission Tomorrow’ career fair for 8th graders, sponsored by the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. While we missed having the chance to interact with and share our passion for nurse anesthesiology with the students at an in-person event this year, I would still say the event was a great success. We were able to chat online with dozens of 8th graders over a three-day period, and I am hopeful we inspired at least a few future CRNAs! I would like to thank and recognize ALL who contributed their time and talents to the event this year. Lukeythia Bastardi worked tirelessly on pre-event planning, media creation, and virtual booth set up. Tim Newell also assisted with event planning and virtual booth configuration. Mawiha Onyewu, Lukeythia Bastardi, John Kim, Nashon Levi, Joan Brown, Melissa Mitchell, and Rachel Gillman shared personal videos about why they love being CRNAs. Robin Blanchard and Doug Gatz (VCU SRNA) created an infographic for our booth and promoted the event. Jen Panosky (VCU SRNA) served as our booth volunteer coordinator. And, last but not least, our booth staffers included Lukeythia Bastardi (all THREE days, all day), Nancy Harrison, and Jordan Sharon (VCU SRNA). Clearly, this was a team effort!! Thank you again to everyone involved for your commitment to getting the word out about what we do.

I’d also like to mention another annual event in District 5, the VCU DNAP program graduation. The commencement ceremony was held on December 11, via Zoom, of course, but was still so special for all involved. Most of these 41 [new or soon-to-be] CRNAs will soon be joining us in the Virginia workforce and as members of VANA. They have chosen to stay in Virginia largely because of the great experiences they had at facilities across the state during their clinical training. Thank you to all who contributed in big and small ways to support and mentor these exceptional graduate students. Please extend a warm welcome to the newest members of our organization and continue to support them as they transition into their new roles.

There are several great opportunities coming up soon to ‘gather’ with other Virginia CRNAs in the virtual space. For the first time (to my knowledge), the January 28 Legislative Summit will be held in the evening, which will hopefully make the event more accessible to those who work during the day. The VANA VIRTUAL Winter Workshop on Saturday, February 6 will feature a fantastic lineup of speakers and many opportunities to network. Finally, the AANA 2021 Assembly of Didactic and Clinical Educators will be held on Saturday, February 20 and will be free this year. You can register via the AANA website or by using this link. While I suspect we all have some degree of “Zoom fatigue” lately, I hope that you’ll have the opportunity to join in on one or all of these virtual events as we continue to practice social distancing and count down the days until we can be together in person again. If you have any great ideas for other virtual events or offerings you’d like to see in the next quarter, please share them with me at

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