Distinguished Alumni Award Winner: Brian Torres

Sep. 19, 2023 By: khadijahhenderson

<span>Distinguished Alumni Award Winner: Brian Torres</span>

Brian Torres, DNP, CRNA

Barnes-Jewish College Goldfarb School of Nursing, Class of 2012

Growing up, Brian Torres saw nursing expertise firsthand from his mother who was an Army nurse (and Lieutenant Colonel). "In high school, she set up a shadow experience for me with a CRNA (certified registered nurse anesthetist)," Brian says. "I wanted to become a nurse based on my excitement about the role of CRNAs and I could visualize my pathway."

Brian also excelled in science so nursing became a natural path. After receiving his BSN at the University of Missouri–Columbia in 2001, he launched his career at Barnes-Jewish Hospital as an ICU nurse.

"I enjoyed it and learned a lot," he says. "I had an atypical track to becoming a CRNA because I worked for eight years at the bedside as an ICU nurse. This time helped me mature as a professional, develop strong skills and become well-versed in a large academic institution. While I engaged in clinical operations, I also dabbled in clinical research with the Department of Anesthesiology."

Finally, he decided to take the next step and become a CRNA. He graduated from the nurse anesthesia program at Barnes-Jewish College Goldfarb School of Nursing in 2012.

"I chose the College because it has the best CRNA program in the region and because of the collaboration with BJC HealthCare and Washington University School of Medicine that creates unique opportunities, he says. "Also the program director, Dr. Bernadette Henrichs, is known worldwide as the best educator in the field of anesthesiology. I'm extremely fortunate to learn from someone like her. Choosing Goldfarb was a no-brainer."

Bernadette Henrichs, PhD, CRNA, CCRN, CHSE, FAANA, is the director of the Nurse Anesthesia Program at Barnes-Jewish College Goldfarb School of Nursing and director of CRNA Education and Research at Washington University School of Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology.

"When I went back to school things were easier because I had a depth of understanding in how the institution operates and I had good mentors, connections and experiences on which to draw. I leaned on my experiences as an ICU nurse and it helped me excel."

When Brian graduated, he became a CRNA in the Department of Anesthesiology at Washington University. Two years later, he was appointed assistant director of the nurse anesthesia program at Barnes-Jewish College. He also has chaired the curriculum committee at the College and helped the College move to a curriculum management system. In addition, he chaired the College Evaluation Committee.

Because of his contributions to managing curriculum change, Brian was honored with the Deans' Award for Exceptional Service from Barnes-Jewish College in 2020. This award is presented to a faculty member for their outstanding service to the college, the academic profession, and the community.

In his faculty role, he teaches anesthetic pharmacology, preoperative health assessment, simulation and the basic principles of anesthesiology.

"I enjoy seeing students transition from a skilled ICU nurse to an advanced practice nurse anesthetist," Brian says. "I'm most proud of becoming an educator and knowing my role in education has helped others be great CRNAs. I believe Goldfarb grads are the best-trained CRNAs.

In addition to teaching, Brian continues his clinical practice of providing anesthesia for patients in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery twice a week at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. "Anesthesiology is a fascinating science in a fast-paced dynamic environment. It's different every day. I enjoy connecting with patients. When I earn their trust and ease their fears, it's very satisfying. I know I made someone's day better and helped them get through a scary day."

Brian also keeps his hand in research and has been involved in large research projects in the anesthesiology department, including studies on EEG monitoring, awareness under anesthesia, the anesthesiology control tower, and the best type of anesthetic to give a patient.

As he looks to the future, he is considering a research arm on how to best teach the next generation of CRNAs.

Brian also has been instrumental in shaping the CRNA program for the future. "It has been rewarding to be a partner in the growth of the CRNA program. Before it had six students in the cohort and now it has 15. We also converted it from a master's to a doctoral program in recent years. I'm also proud of my contributions to the culture at the College. I support a healthy, welcoming and respectful culture across all roles for students, faculty and clinicians."


The Distinguished Alumni Award will be given during this year's Homecoming Celebration on Sept. 29.

Nominate a Distinguished Alumni here.