Ep 50: Promoting Diversity and Inclusion with Dr. Courtney Brown

The nurse anesthesia profession hasn’t traditionally been a field known for its diversity but that’s something leaders are trying to change. At the forefront is Dr. Courtney Brown at Wake Forest. She joins the show to discuss the importance of recruiting people from all backgrounds to nurse anesthesia and what’s being done to make that happen.  

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

***CE CREDIT ALERT: We are excited to share a series of podcasts in partnership with the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists as part of their new video and audio streaming platform, the CRNA Knowledge Network. For currently active members of the AANA, you can earn FREE Class A Continuing Education Credit by listening to these CE-approved podcasts on their platform!

Visit AANACKN.com and log in with your AANA User ID and Password to access the audio sessions for these particular episodes.

Note, some episodes are pending CE approval and may have an expiration date.

On This Episode:

Across the country, businesses and industries are working diligently to improve diversity and nurse anesthesia isn’t any different. In fact, this industry might be working harder at it than most because we’ve seen a majority Caucasian workforce.

To get an understanding of why diversity and inclusion are so important to our field, we spent some time with Dr. Courtney A. Brown of the Wake Forest School of Medicine. She is one of the leaders in our industry that have made it a priority to bring in people to CRNA programs that have a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.

2:16 – Welcome in our guest, Dr. Courtney Brown

3:23 – Dr. Brown has made many efforts to improve diversity and inclusion at Wake Forest and that will be our focus today.

Over the course of this episode of the Beyond the Mask podcast, Jeremy and Sharon will help you understand why this is so important to our industry with the help of Dr. Brown.

3:46 – Why is this topic of diversity so important for our field?

4:35 – We’re behind many other health professions.

6:00 – Explain diversity and inclusion and what they mean.

Most of us aren’t aware of the lack of diversity in our day-to-day lives. A great example of that is a story Dr. Brown shared about a recent graduate that almost never even joined the program because the marketing materials and literature didn’t appear very inclusive. That’s an area that her and her team are more cognizant of.

6:28 – An example of a recent graduate that almost didn’t apply to the program because of the marketing materials.

8:26 – Is there a negative perception of nurse anesthesia due to the lack of diversity?

10:26 – Why do people associate promoting diversity with Affirmative Action?

So we know what some of the issues are, now what are we doing about it? Dr. Brown takes us through the areas where improvements are being made and steps are being put in place to increase diversity. At her school, that process includes pipeline, recruitment and retention, which she also explains in more detail.

13:37 – Now that things are on the radar, is progress being made?

16:58 – How does recruitment work and what do you look for?

19:01 – Dr. Brown shares the updated statistics from her program.

20:23 – Explaining pipeline programming and how it works.

23:04 – The balance of male versus female in the profession.

24:49 – What can faculty at other programs do to improve diversity and inclusion?

We finish up this episode by talking about what every CRNA can do to help us continue to take steps forward. You might not be in a powerful position as Dr. Brown and others, but we can all do our part to grow the profession with diversity and inclusion in mind.

27:20 – Where can the average CRNA start?

31:52 – What should be a part of the national agenda to assist in diversifying our profession?

37:17 – Final thoughts from Dr. Brown.  

Plus, you can get a continuing education credit from the AANA for listening to this episode. Go to AANACKN.com to get the details.


“I can’t even describe to you how impactful it is in any kind of, for example, DNP program to have all those varying backgrounds and perspectives. It adds such a richness to the classroom.

-Dr. Courtney A. Brown

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