Spotlight on a Nursing Professional: Nurse Anesthetist Sarah Sellers

NursingMay 23, 2018

Recently the nursing specialty, nurse anesthetist, made the national news. Arizona nurse, Sarah Sellers, broke out of the pack to become the runner-up at the 2018 Boston Marathon. Sellers finished just four minutes behind Desiree Linden. Linden, in turn, became the first woman to win the historic Boston Marathon in more than three decades.

The day was cold, wet and windy, and experts expected some potential upsets. But they—and the runners who finished in first through sixth places—were evidently more than a little surprised by the results. Shocked, in fact. Typically, elite runners from far-flung places like Ethiopia and Kenya take the lead and mount the winner’s podium when the dust has settled. But not this blustery year.  

Sellers herself evidently did not realize she had finished in second place until well after she had crossed the finish line. She garnered significant media attention, not least because she appeared to come out of nowhere, metaphorically speaking. That is because elite, national-title runners tend to be well known, long-time runners. Sellers, at just 26, was an apparent unknown; a full-time nurse who somehow found time to train for—and excel at—running this prestigious race.

Hostile Race Weather

On a wet, windy day, with no evident national sponsors, the young nurse from Arizona completed the 26.2 mile race in just 2 hours, 44 minutes, 4 seconds, putting her in second place behind the first woman to win the Boston Marathon since 1985. Working 10-hour shifts as a full-time nurse anesthetist, Sellers had to fit in workouts at 4:00 a.m., before work, or after her shift, at 7:00 p.m. Her second-place finish earned Sellers a $75,000 prize; not bad for a virtual unknown who spends more time in operating rooms than on running tracks.

Nurse anesthetists are well-compensated advanced practice nursing professionals who provide anesthesia for patients, assisting a variety of specialists, such as surgeons, in performing their jobs in a safe, pain-free manner. Nurse anesthetists are especially common in rural hospital settings. Male nurses, in particular, appear to be drawn to this specialty.  

Sarah Sellers’s mental toughness has frequently been cited as an important factor that lead to her amazing accomplishment. According to an online bio, Sellers had only served as a full-time nurse anesthetist for one year before entering the race in Massachusetts. She was inspired to give the race a go after learning that her brother would compete.

Representing the Hard Work and Determination of Nurses Everywhere

If nothing else, Sellers has garnered an unusual level of attention partially due to her relatively unknown status among elite runners. The attention was unexpected, but it reflects positively on her chosen profession: nursing. Sellers is a nurse anesthetist; an advanced practice nursing position that requires significant education and determination to achieve. After serving 10-hour shifts as a new nurse anesthetist, Sellers evidently felt undaunted by the challenge of training for—and completing—the historic marathon race, which rivals only the New York Marathon for international attention.

Elite runners from all over the world enter the race in hopes of claiming a first or second place finish. In this instance, the runner-up was a complete unknown who shined a light on the stamina, determination and physical prowess of dedicated professional nurses everywhere.