This APP Week, we’re celebrating the dedicated healthcare workers who ensure that our most vulnerable populations have access to quality care.
CRNA locums Suzy Wigetman has spent her career taking care of people in their most vulnerable moments. She was a psychiatric social worker before getting her doctorate degree in nursing; now, as a full-time CRNA locums, she is able to care for patients across the country in the moments they need it most.
Here’s what she had to say about why she chose to become a locums CRNA, and how locums has helped her find work-life balance:
Tell us a little bit about how you got into medicine. What drew you to CRNA work?
I was working as a psychiatric social worker before I decided to go into nursing. I was originally thinking of being a psychiatric nurse practitioner, because that would go hand-in-hand with social work.
But one of the psychiatrists that I was working with had a wife who was a CRNA. She and I became friendly, and she invited me to come with her into the OR. I watched her administer a spinal aesthetic, and take care of this patient during a knee surgery. It was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I was hooked right from that moment, and switched to nurse anesthesia.
What led you to decide to become a full-time CRNA locums? Did you have any concerns about the CRNA locums lifestyle?
I started doing locums in 2020, because I was furloughed during the pandemic. I did locums for the whole second half of the year, and in 2021 I went back to being a full-time CRNA at the hospital where I had worked previously. During that time, my Hayes Locums recruiter, Lucas Irons, called me. He was wonderful. I had been unsure about going into locums full-time, but [through those conversations with Lucas], I finally decided to try it.
My number one concern was about housing: where I would live, and whether I would be able to cook my own food. I follow a specific diet, and I don’t eat at restaurants or fast food, so that was a big concern for me.
In our profession, the hours are very long, and people often don’t eat well because of the hours and the stress. So I wanted to make sure I would be in a place where I could cook for myself. Lucas assured me that I would be able to secure an option with a kitchen. That was a huge weight off my shoulders,
I was nervous at first about [committing to locums full-time]. But now I am an absolute believer. I will never be a full-time employee again. I intend to do locums for the rest of my career.
What is it like practicing as a CRNA locums vs. as a hospital employee?
One of the biggest differences, especially for CRNAs like myself, is not being on call. As a full-time employee, one of the ways that we get most burnt out is by taking calls.
In the full time position that I was in [before becoming a full-time CRNA locums], I was working so much between my call schedule and my full-time work schedule that I had no work-life balance at all. That’s when I decided that I was going to give locums a try.
The biggest advantage of being a full-time locums CRNA is that you can control the number of hours you work. When you’re a full time employee you have no control over that. No matter what schedule you initially agree to when you take a job, within a few months, all of that can change, because the staffing is constantly changing. You lose all control over your time.
With locums, you can control shift length, how many days a week you work, whether you want to work one week on and one week off, or whether you want to work full time. The time is yours to control. You’re no longer at someone else’s mercy.
After working a variety of shifts––10 hour, 12 hour, and 8 hour––I decided that I prefer working five 8-hour shifts. Initially I didn’t think I wouldn’t want to do that because I’d be working every day; I thought I would prefer working one day less a week, since that would give me more time off. But I enjoy it, because it’s more like a normal everyday schedule. Staying healthy is really hard to do when you’re working late every day. We get up early because ORs start early, and they end late, so it’s very hard to exercise or take care of yourself. So for me, I’ve found it’s much easier to do five 8-hour shifts. I get to leave at 3pm, and I have the rest of the day to exercise and do errands. I have a lot more me-time, and that’s a huge benefit.
You can take care of yourself better by controlling your own time. You don’t burn out the way you do as a full-time employee.
What advice would you give to other APPs considering locums?
Talk to your recruiter very thoroughly about what kind of jobs they have, and whether you think those jobs might interest you. Ask them every question you can think of.
[If you’re considering a specific job], ask your recruiter to speak to a locums who has or is currently practicing there. It gives you a better idea about how the hospital and the department operate, and if you feel like you would fit into the way they operate on a daily basis. You get a feeling of what the job is going to be like from someone who’s actually doing that work.
At a specific job I was thinking about taking, I asked to speak to the locums who was already practicing there on the phone, CRNA to CRNA, and ask them questions about it. And that really made me feel better about taking a job.
It’s APP Week. What are some things you wish more people understood about APPs?
We are advanced practice providers––that means we have advanced education, advanced knowledge, and advanced skills in our professions.
In the CRNA world, they have raised the bar in schools––as of 2025, everybody will be coming out with a doctoral degree instead of a mid-level masters degree. I went back to school and got my doctorate of nursing practice, and that was a huge learning experience.
I think there’s a lot more knowledge about APPs in the public now. Patients don’t expect that everyone who treats them is going to have an MD behind their name anymore, and a lot of them are choosing APPS [as their practitioners].
As APPs, we have a lot of education, a lot of training, and a lot of knowledge. We just want to be able to use that knowledge.
*This interview has been edited for clarity and length.