My prayer for you as you read this is that you will be inspired to ask God for the “Calling” in your career, and that you will make this a high priority in your journey through life. The fullness of life can be yours as you expand the Kingdom in your part of the world. 

Winston King

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

By Winston King
St. Andrews Baptist Church
Columbia SC

When a teenager becomes a Believer in the formative years of life, deciding what one does with one’s life can take on another dimension – the question of a “calling” from God. As I struggled with clarity of calling, someone advised me to pursue what you love and find your calling there. While working night shift and attending college during the day, God used a stranger to point out the way.

She motioned for me to come in the Operating Room where a surgery was being performed in the middle of the night. The year was 1979 and a curious orderly was peering through the little square window in the heavy wooden door that separated the sterile operating room from the outside world.

Little did that nameless Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) know that she would provide the direction an eager young mind needed to find meaning and purpose though one’s work. She positioned me right behind the drape that separated the sterile field from her workspace, a perfect vantage point to watch the miracle of healing through surgery.

As I watched, I thought to myself, “If I did what she did, I could watch surgery all day!” And 42 years later, an eager young mind in an aging body still watches surgery while helping a vulnerable patient sleep and remain safe.

I am one of an estimated 45,000 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists in the U.S. who administer nearly 50 million anesthetics a year according to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists.  My job is to render a patient unaware of or unconcerned about painful surgical events. Perhaps the biggest challenge of my work is to establish a trusting relationship with a patient in just a few minutes before an anesthetic is administered.

Conveying confidence in my ability to safely guide a patient through a surgical experience is an essential task, but there is opportunity to be so much more to patients.

As a Nurse Anesthetist and a Believer, I have a perfect marriage of career and calling. Every day brings opportunities for service and ministry. Patients are often afraid of surgery, anesthesia, diagnosis, prognosis and death. In nearly every surgical encounter, the patient is separated from family or friend support and ushered into the isolation of an operating room where personnel are shrouded by gowns, gloves, and masks.

If a patient is given medication to alleviate anxiety or create amnesia, loss of control or the fear of the unknown is only temporarily suspended.

Sensitivity to the spiritual needs of patients provides opportunity to minister to people at a moment of great vulnerability.

It has been said that people will not be able to remember what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. God gave me a servant heart and blessed me with a career where I could use both the innate and the acquired talents He gave me to make both a living and a difference for the Kingdom.

Co-workers struggle with every imaginable life challenge. The surgery team’s emotional experience can be anywhere from exhilarating to traumatic. Shared experiences by OR teams are not well understood to those outside of health care. There is a strange type of closeness that often develops where people are working shoulder to shoulder and facing often harsh realities. We are a captive audience with each other and the opportunity for encouragement is ongoing.

I participate in surgical mission trips to Honduras several times a year. I can’t help but share about those experiences at work, and I have been blessed to have OR team members participate with me. We use those opportunities to integrate our faith and our careers through service.

When a co-worker sees you at your best (and worst) and will go with you out of the country to serve, it is a validation of the genuineness of your faith and character. I count it  among the highest honors. 


The photo is of Winston on a mission trip to Honduras. He is on another trip to Honduras July 29-Aug. 6, 2021.