Earlier this year, we spoke with Nicole Hubbard, Co-Chief Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) about her role at Tampa General Hospital (TGH), serving on the TeamHealth National Advanced Practice Clinician Council, and the role she plays in her community.
Nicole is the Co-Chief CRNA at Tampa General Hospital in Tampa FL, a 1041 bed Level 1 trauma, transplant and comprehensive burn center. This academic medical center is one of the largest hospitals in America and is one of the busiest transplant centers in the nation. With 18 years at Tampa General Hospital (TeamHealth’s largest anesthesia practice), she not only represents 130 of her colleagues, but serves on the National Advanced Practice Council as one of four representing anesthetists nationwide where she was just elected as Chair Elect of the Council. She also serves as the Co-Chair for TeamHealth’s Women in Leadership Ambassador Program, serves on the National TeamHealth Clinical Operations and Performance Innovation team, serves on the Advanced Practice Council Executive Committee at Tampa General Hospital, and is the only APC on the TGH Surgical Suites committee. TGH most recently awarded Nicole “CRNA of the Year” for 2020 and she was most surprised receiving TeamHealth’s “APC of the Year”. With a special devotion to her Tampa community, Nicole serves on many nonprofit Boards, enjoys traveling and exploring the world with her husband Matt and two children, Austin and Ansley, and can be found most weekends as her kids’ #1 fan at the baseball and soccer fields.
Nicole serves in many community roles as a mentor, an advocate for the voiceless and a catalyst for positive change. She embodies the modern woman balancing work, family and volunteerism. In her community, Nicole serves as a founding board member and Chair of the Heart Gallery of Tampa, appointed to the Hillsborough County Commission on the Status of Women where she serves as Vice Chair. Nicole has played a key role in all aspects of the Junior League of Tampa before becoming President in 2016 – 2017. As President, she spearheaded a community-wide human trafficking training and initiated the creation of the first human trafficking awareness mural in downtown Tampa. In 2020, she completed a two-year term serving on the Association of Junior Leagues International Governance Committee.
For those who may not be familiar with the CRNA profession, could you describe what you do?
Hubbard: CRNAs are master’s and doctorate prepared advanced practice nurses who enjoy a high degree of autonomy and professional respect. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists provide anesthesia for every type of surgery and work in a variety of practice settings. CRNAs are often times the sole anesthesia providers in many rural settings, and the main provider of anesthesia to the men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Nicole works at a very large Level 1 Trauma and transplant center that is one of the largest academic centers in the United States. “At Tampa General Hospital, we practice with a collaborative team-based approach with an anesthesiologist and a nurse anesthetist that does each case. As CRNAs, we are responsible for every aspect of patient care: everything from to talking with the patient and obtaining a preoperative evaluation, to analyzing and coming up with an anesthesia plan, administering the anesthesia, obviously shepherding and watching the patient through the surgery, and then waking the patient up and making sure they’re comfortable and leave the recovery room just like they came to us.”
Could you tell us a little bit about your background and training?
Hubbard: I received my Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Florida State University in Tallahassee and then moved to Tampa, Florida and started working in the cardiovascular surgical ICU (CVSICU) that recovers open-heart patients, as well as heart, lung and liver transplant patients. I worked for three years in the CVSICU, and then went back to school for my Masters of Science in Anesthesiology at Barry University in Miami, Florida. After graduation from anesthesia school, I came back to what I knew at TGH as a new nurse anesthetist. I’ve now been at TGH for 18 years as a CRNA. I never thought I would be in the same job 18 years later, but that’s a true testament to how much I enjoy working at Tampa General Hospital…it truly is my home (and family) away from home!
Could you tell me a little bit about your position as chief CRNA at Tampa General? Chief CRNA is not a position that necessarily exists in some other practices.
Hubbard: We are a really large practice and have 130 CRNAs when fully staffed, so I don’t do this alone. As Co-Chief, I am responsible for working with clinical recruiters as well as the Vice President of Talent Acquisition and our Vice President of Operations to stay competitive in the market through initiatives like creating and leading a market analysis, vetting and interviewing prospective new hires, onboarding and orienting new hires, daily scheduling, and dealing with day-to-day issues that may arise. As Co-Chief CRNA, I am the first line of communication for CRNAs. My colleagues know when they have an issue in the OR, with a team that they’re working, or with a colleague, that they can always count on me to listen and take action when necessary. As a Co-Chief CRNA, I work closely with our VP of Operations and Facility Medical Director to streamline processes, increase engagement and improve retention. I am working full-time in the OR, too, so I experience a lot of the same things that my colleagues do. Being a Chief CRNA is a trusted position that requires the respect of your colleagues and peers.
Could you tell me about your other leadership responsibilities at TeamHealth?
Hubbard: I am an appointed member of the National Advanced Practice Council, a group of certified registered nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, representing the different geographical regions and service lines of TeamHealth. I am one of four that represent our anesthesia service line nationwide.
One of the founders of TeamHealth, Dr. Randal Dabbs, is the champion of this council. He meets with us at our monthly meetings, annually at the National Medical Leadership Conference, and also for a two-day meeting in Knoxville at TeamHealth’s National Service Center for our advanced practice clinician (APC) retreat specifically to address APC issues and develop best practices. APCs makeup nearly a third of the clinicians of TeamHealth and provide care to a third of the patients, so TeamHealth really values our role. The mission of this council is to represent TeamHealth APCs nationwide, so we are the voice to the executive and physician leadership of TeamHealth. I am excited about the opportunity to lead this group of talented leaders as Chair of the council starting in summer 2022.
Leadership as a CRNA is kind of unique at TeamHealth, but what advice do you have for those interested in pursuing leadership?
Hubbard: I tell students all the time: “If you want to learn something or be a part of something, then take the initiative to ask.” So, if people are interested in leadership opportunities, then they should let their Chief CRNAs know. Everyone needs a succession plan; I’m going to need someone to replace me one day. We all need to be thinking about how we can help develop each other and our colleagues.
From an administrative or a leader’s point of view, we need to be able to recognize our colleagues that put in 120 percent and really go above and beyond. As a Co-Chief CRNA, I am always looking for colleagues who are engaged and interested in working on certain projects, able to attend meetings around the hospital that my schedule may not accompany, able to orient new hires, participate in task forces, etc. There are plenty of ways to engage CRNAs who are willing to put in a little extra time and go that extra mile. The leadership opportunities are limitless at TeamHealth, and as an experienced leader in my community, this is one of TeamHealth’s opportunities I value the most!
What do you enjoy most about practicing with TeamHealth or what are some of the biggest benefits of practicing with TeamHealth in your experience?
Hubbard: The fact that TeamHealth has a National Advanced Practice Council is a true testament that TeamHealth is a company that values the APC role and recognizes the collaborative relationship between the APC and the physician to best provide quality and cost-effective care. TeamHealth provides leadership training to CRNA and physician leads and truly invests in the future of TeamHealth’s leadership. Group Presidents recommend APCs to the National Advanced Practice Council and it’s quite a coveted thing.
TeamHealth respects and values the advanced practice clinicians and they recognize how important we are to the practice.”
We have open CRNA opportunities throughout the state of Florida! Join a team that supports you and recognizes your impact in providing excellent patient care.