Mount Marty’s Dr. Taylor Rehfeldt Wins National Award
August 19, 2020
On Tuesday, August 18, 2020, Dr. Taylor Rehfeldt was honored with the Ira P. Gunn Award for Outstanding Professional Advocacy by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA).
Rehfeldt, an alumna and current faculty member of Mount Marty University’s nurse anesthesia program in Sioux Falls, was a key individual in the passing of South Dakota Senate Bill 50 earlier this year. For Rehfeldt, the bill, which expanded CRNA practice within the state in an effort to improve quality of care in rural communities, started in the classroom.
“I’ve been involved in advocacy for nurse anesthesia since I was a master’s degree student at Mount Marty,” explained Rehfeldt. “I was the student rep for the government relations committee for the AANA, which is our national organization.”
When Rehfeldt transitioned into doctoral coursework in nurse anesthesia, she realized that she could turn her growing passion for professional and community advocacy into an excellent doctoral project. Combining strategy and research, Rehfeldt completed a plan to obtain full practice authority for CRNAs in South Dakota in May 2018.
By September, Rehfeldt, now the president of the South Dakota Association of Nurse Anesthetists, put her plan into action. The resulting Senate Bill 50 was signed by Governor Noem in February 2020.
“Senate Bill 50 was about our South Dakota communities and access to healthcare,” said Rehfeldt. “That is what nurse anesthetists, at our core, are all about: providing services to communities that need it. Nurses, in general, care. We care about our communities and we want to do anything we can to serve them. That’s why this was so important to me. It provides service to communities and allows people to stay in their homes and not have to travel.”
The Ira P. Gunn Award is given to one nurse anesthetist annually who has worked to overcome legislative, legal or regulatory challenges to the profession. Nominated for the award by her friend and fellow Mount Marty alum Chris Bender, Rehfeldt said she was excited to have received the award.
“It’s definitely a big honor. There are 55,000 nurse anesthetists in the United States, so it’s pretty cool [to win].”
Still practicing nurse anesthesia in Sioux Falls and Worthington as needed, Rehfeldt is continuing her advocacy work while also serving as the clinical director for Mount Marty’s nurse anesthesia program.
“I chose Mount Marty because of location, because of closeness to family and closeness to the South Dakota communities that are important to me,” said Rehfeldt. “I also chose it because of the values of the university, the Benedictine tradition, feeling like you’re not just a number but that you are part of a group or a family. And I love that now I’ve been able to take that as a faculty member and really put that into place be able to help students the way I have been helped. It’s really been a full-circle process.”
Mount Marty University hopes to instill the value of service to the community into each and every student. There is nothing more promising than seeing individuals like Rehfeldt in the Mount Marty community who are enacting change, making an impact and serving those who need it most.