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I Am Navy Medicine – and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist – Lt. Jason Balazs

25 January 2023

From Douglas Stutz

Whether it’s preoperative, intraoperative, or postoperative for any surgery or procedure in Naval Hospital Bremerton’s Main Operating Room, Lt. Jason Balazs is easy to locate.As a certified registered nurse anesthetist, Balazs is constantly providing critical care services to every patient in need.Such expertise and attention to detail by him, as
Whether it’s preoperative, intraoperative, or postoperative for any surgery or procedure in Naval Hospital Bremerton’s Main Operating Room, Lt. Jason Balazs is easy to locate.

As a certified registered nurse anesthetist, Balazs is constantly providing critical care services to every patient in need.

Such expertise and attention to detail by him, as well as other certified registered nurse anesthetists, is recognized with National CRNA Week, January 22-28, 2023. The annual event was initially established by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists to acknowledge the anesthetist profession's long history and enduring record of patient safety.

CRNAs like Balazs provide critical care services such as reviewing a patient’s medical history and providing anesthesia to that patient before the surgery/procedure, monitoring the patient’s vitals during the surgery/procedure and afterwards overseeing the patient’s recovery from the anesthesia and help provide any additional post-operative care.

Yet from Balazs perspective, his primary responsibility is to maintain mission readiness by providing the best possible anesthesia care for a surgery/procedure, whether it’s at a stateside military treatment facility like NHB or assigned to a far-flung forward deployed medical department on a U.S. Navy nuclear aircraft carrier.

“The CRNA is an integral part of the team in the operating room. Not only are we a provider, but we are also the patient’s advocate. With our extensive knowledge of anesthesia, we are champions in bedside manner. We ensure that the proper level and depth of anesthesia is met for the procedure as well as maintain the patient’s hemodynamics [blood flow], all the while ensuring that the patient is safe throughout the entire procedure,” stated Balazs.

For Balazs, his current role as NHB’s department head for Anesthesiology and pain services is defined by a career totaling 33 years providing service before self in Navy Medicine.

“As a young man, I was always intrigued with medicine and my goal was to be a doctor. However, at the time that I entered service, I do not believe I had the discipline or money to go to college to chase my dreams,” said Balazs, a Pueblo, Colorado native, Centennial High School 1990 grad, with a Bachelor of Science degree from American Military University in 2010, Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Colorado State University in 2013 and his Doctorate in Nursing Practice from Uniformed University of the Health Sciences in 2020.

Balazs was born in 1972. Both his parents worked just to make ends meet.

“We didn’t have the money to buy things that others had. As a child we learned to do with what we had. I would go around collecting soda bottles to return to the store or take my snow shovel and walk from door to door to make money and help my family out,” Balazs shared. “After graduating high school, I was asked by a friend if I wanted to join the Navy. Without a second thought I agreed to go.”

He jumped at the opportunity to become a hospital corpsman which led him to spending nearly 23 years with the Marine Corps as a field medical corpsman, culminating as the senior enlisted leader of 3rd Marines. It was then he was contemplating retirement before deciding to investigate the Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program to become a Navy Nurse Corps officer.

“It was a new and exciting adventure I felt was just what I needed. I applied and was selected my first time,” related Balazs, who finally deciding to pursue becoming a CRNA from amongst the host of nursing specialties – there are 17 in the Nurse Corps – offered. “To say it was difficult is an understatement. It is one of the most rigorous programs that I have ever experienced, yet it is the most rewarding. The education and advanced hands-on training received is by far the best.”

His career in Navy Medicine has taken him around the world to many locales that many other travelers would never experience.

“I have deployed with the Marines to the Middle East, Somalia, and Europe, providing healthcare for both our active-duty troops and the local population alike,” Balazs said.

Balazs attest that best part about his career is being a CRNA.

“[and] Being able to mentor junior corpsman and pass on the knowledge that I have been blessed with to receive,” he said. “Having been in the Navy for most of my life, I know nothing more than being a part of something. Always helping your shipmates as well as subordinates has been a motto that I have had engrained in me. I am always a person that is approachable and will answer any question.”

“There is one point I share with our young corpsman here and that is not to wait like I did to apply for a Navy program like MECP,” added Balazs.

He also affirms that there are a few perks that come with being a CRNA.

“The first thing is the monetary aspect. CRNAs have one of the highest bonuses in the Nurse Corps. Second, the amount of autonomy that you have in performing your anesthesia is amazing. Third, as one of the most educated nurse corps specialties, you can teach others about medications, anatomy, and physiology,” said Balazs.

When asked to sum up his experience with Navy Medicine in one sentence, Balazs replied, “Navy Medicine has made me who I am today.”

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