Ep 181: The CRNA Coroner – Another Avenue to Serve

As more and more CRNAs are trying to find their place in the political setting, Jennifer Banek, CRNA found her own path to serving. In 2020, Banek was elected Coroner in Lake County, Illinois, and she’s currently holding that position alongside her job as a nurse anesthetist. She joins the show today to share her unique story and pull back the curtain on the campaign and election process for those aspiring to run for office in the future.

Check out the timestamps below to help you navigate through the many topics we discussed.

On This Episode:

It’s been incredible to watch the number of CRNAs that have thrown their scrubs into the ring for political positions around the country. As the trend continues to grow, we want to spotlight another one of these incredibly talented and devoted nurse anesthetists that have been recently elected.

Jennifer Banek has been a CRNA for about 10 years and also serves as a Captain in the US Army Reserves.  She’s currently a nurse anesthetist in Illinois and licensed in the state of Wisconsin, but now she’s taking on a bigger role as the Lake County Coroner.

Banek’s journey began when the state president in Illinois at the time asked if she wanted to get involved in fundraising and other advocacy efforts, and it was the push she needed. Through this new role, she learned about the issues facing nurse anesthetists from an advocacy standpoint and knew she wanted to run for office at some point in the future. Her passion for the profession and politics collided and she took advantage of the opportunity.

Today she joins the show to discuss that journey and share the challenges that face anyone trying to run for a local office. Just to give you an idea of how busy she is, we had to catch up with when we did because she was about to head to South Korea to help out with an exercise there for a few weeks.

So as you listen to the episode, keep an ear out for these topics:

  • The story for how she got involved in advocacy and what pushed her to run for office.
  • The work it took to run for the first time in 2019 while also being in the US Army reserves.
  • Getting signatures and campaigning.
  • Details on how campaign funds are used and the creative ways she saved money.
  • The election process and the challenges she faced even from her own party.
  • What the Coroner’s Office does and what her responsibilities are.
  • How she balances those duties with her job as a CRNA
  • Why nurse anesthetist training helps in Coroner role.
  • All the lessons she’s learned from running for office and the new perspective it’s given her.

Check out the interview at the top of the page and use the timestamps to help you navigate through the many topics we discussed.

[2:27] – Welcome in Jennifer

[3:28] – What we’re talking about today

[4:45] – Her path to politics

[10:26] – Getting signatures

[13:35] – The campaigning process  

[20:25] – How many states did she fundraise from

[22:04] – Election and challenges

[24:00] – Husband deployed during the election

[25:14] – What does Coroner’s Office do?

[28:30] – How nurse anesthetist training benefits this position

[30:51] – Balancing Coroner and CRNA roles

[32:03] – How running for office changed her perspective

[35:59] – Her future in politics

[37:20] – Final thoughts


“You realize that you can’t do it all by yourself, and you really need to pull on other people’s strengths. This is something else that I think sometimes within our associations, we haven’t been so good at….In order to be rock stars, we really need a lot of people on board.”

-Jennifer Banek, CRNA

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CRNA Careers

Ep 200: Exploring the Power of Nursing and Its Future Impact on Healthcare

As we celebrate the release of our 200th episode, it seemed fitting to shine the spotlight on the profession as a whole and the people who devote their lives to helping others. Many CRNAs, and nurses in general, don’t give themselves enough credit for the work they do every day. So today we’re going to take a big picture look at the power of nursing and the innovation we’re doing that could change healthcare with Rebecca Love, RN, MSN, FIEL.

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CRNA History

Ep 199: Olive Berger, CRNA – Founding Member of the AANA

The early years of anesthesia were a time when nurses proved just how valuable they were as this new world was being explored. Olive Berger, CRNA was one of the women that rose to the occasion and helped shape the profession through her work with ‘blue babies’ and with the AANA. Today we look back on her career with show historians Nancy Bruton-Maree, CRNA and Sandy Ouellette, CRNA.

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