Nursing Student Leads by Example for Her Family

Nursing Student Leads by Example for Her Family

Bonnie Hunt, Duke School of Nursing (DUSON) DNP Nurse Anesthesia Program student, said the practicality of the nursing profession was a major draw for her since it blended her natural interest in healthcare with means to provide for her family.


“I knew I wanted to pursue a career in Nurse Anesthesia long before I attended nursing school because of an experience I had overseas. The first time I met a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist was in 2011 while serving on active duty in the United States Army in Kaiserslautern, Germany,” Hunt said. “I was on an educational rotation at the tertiary hospital for members of the armed forces who were injured in the line of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

During Hunt’s rotation, a young soldier was transferred in after his vehicle encountered an explosive device while on patrol in Afghanistan. This soldier had extensive injuries, including burns on 60% of his body and face. The CRNA responsible for the patient during this case took the time to teach her about what he was doing and why. 

Hunt said, looking back, she realized the CRNA was teaching her about neuromuscular blockades and Train of Four, which is a peripheral nerve stimulator that is used to assess neuromuscular transmission when neuromuscular blocking agents (NMBAs) are given to block musculoskeletal activity (Medscape).

  “At that point in my career, I only had rudimentary medical knowledge; however, witnessing the administration of pain-relieving anesthetic to this wounded soldier was moving,” Hunt said. “From that impactful day forward, I knew becoming a CRNA was in my future. “

As a young teenager, Hunt dropped out of high school and moved out of her family home. She earned her General Education Degree (GED) while working as a waitress; with no resources or direction for her future, she enlisted in the military. 

“This proved to be the decision that changed my trajectory. I earned awards and accolades during my time in the United States Army, but what I value most is the chance to make a better life for myself and my two children,” Hunt said. “I never fathomed that I would attend my dream school after a such bleak start to my academic career.”

She said she learned that children will follow the example set for them. This was a major factor in why she applied to CRNA school while her children are still young. “I believe that bearing witness to the hard work and sacrifice it takes to achieve a goal will serve my children well as they grow and make decisions of their own,” Hunt said.

It is Hunt’s goal to do her part in serving others by relieving suffering and advocating for access to high quality anesthesia care. In addition to practicing as a CRNA, she has a strong desire to work with at-risk youth and teens to introduce them to the field of nursing and Nurse Anesthesia. 

“In my experience, having someone to guide and show kids that success is possible after hardship can empower them to strive toward their full potential.

Hunt said she was 12 years old the first time she visited Duke, and it made an unforgettable impression on her. “I rode along to drop off a family friend to start his undergraduate education at Duke University and the campus left me in awe,” Hunt said.  “As I grew up, I learned about Duke’s reputation for excellence in education and the continual dedication to equity. I value how closely DUSON’s mission statement and code of ethics mirror my own and I am grateful DUSON chose me.”

When it comes to the “Duke experience,” Hunt said Duke has been so much more than she could have dreamed. “I am thrilled with my choice to pursue my Nurse Anesthesia education here. The professors and faculty are among the most supportive and compassionate people I’ve had the pleasure of working with,” Hunt said.

“It is evident that their actions align with their dedication to providing a learning environment that will prepare students to be safe, excellent leaders in the field of Nurse Anesthesia.” 

The culture of the program has a strong focus on collaboration amongst students and faculty which Hunt says she appreciates. 

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