New Graduates: Brittany Pierce

Brittany Pierce graduated from VCU’s nurse anesthesia program in December of 2021. Currently, Brittany works for VCU’s health system.

As a 17-year-old senior in high school, I was sitting in church when I decided that I wanted to be a CRNA. One of the members of the church, a nurse anesthetist named Angie, asked about my future. As the child of an RN, I knew I was passionate about a future in healthcare but remained undecided about the details around my plan. That conversation with Angie inspired me to apply to the nursing program at the University of Virginia, where I was accepted. The rest is history!

During my second year of nursing school at UVA, I had the wonderful opportunity to shadow Amanda Ward, a VCU Health CRNA. After that shadowing experience, I was determined to turn my dreams of becoming a CRNA into a reality. Amanda and I remained in touch over the years and she became like a mentor to me – she even wrote one of my recommendation letters for CRNA school! Additionally, my parents, husband, family, and friends were all additional driving forces to my success.

As a nurse anesthesia student, I was introduced to Dr. Wallena Gould, the founder of The Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program. Her mentorship program has played a major role in helping to diversify the CRNA profession. Today, hundreds of practicing CRNAs are former mentees of Dr. Gould! Representation is so critical in nursing – in any field, really – and after meeting with Dr. Gould, I knew that it was important for me to continue this path to help increase diversity within this field. I hope to inspire others and let them know that if I can do it, they can too.

To continue investing in diversity within my profession, I worked alongside some of my fellow classmates to help create the DEI Committee for VCU’s Nurse Anesthesia Program. This committee has really taken off and even hosts its own mentorship program, which is something I am particularly passionate about. Currently, there are over 20 nurse anesthesia students and at least 15 CRNA mentors on the committee. This year, the committee has hosted outreach events at the school and traveled to local elementary, middle, and high schools to educate students on anesthesia and nursing. I’m proud that VCU is leading the charge with this one-of-a-kind program!

Now that I’ve graduated, I’m excited to continue developing and growing as a CRNA. In this field, you truly are a lifelong learner. Even after one year into my practice, there are still cases that I haven’t performed and chronic illnesses with unique anesthestic implications that I have yet to manage. Also, my professors inspired a hope that one day I might have a future in academics, so a PhD program might be in my future, too! The possibility of mentoring and inspiring the next generation of CRNAs is so exciting.

I knew upon graduation that I wanted to work for VCU Health System. I’m from Richmond and VCU is a Level 1 Trauma Center, so I knew that it would allow me to gain experience managing extremely sick patients. VCU is used to having learners and new providers in its environment and it values and welcomes those new voices. I’ve felt like a member of the team since the first day I walked through the door, which is so important as a recent graduate. Beyond me, I was joined by ten of my classmates who also decided to work at VCU. So, I knew from day one that I was never alone – our cohort has always been able to turn to one another, as well as our fellow colleagues, for a listening ear or a helping hand.

My first year since graduation has been great – I’ve felt valued, I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve grown in my confidence and competence as a CRNA. There are still times when I feel uncertain or have questions and, in those times, I turn to my colleagues who are happy to provide me with guidance and support.

I’m excited to continue on this trajectory and, of course, to engage more with VANA in the coming months and years!

If you’re interested in getting involved in the DEI committee at VCU, feel free to reach out to Brittany Pierce at and if you’re a recent graduate who would like to share your story with VANA, contact Katie Jesaitis at

News, Spring 2023 VANA Newsletter