Friendships Keep Anesthesia Technician at Duke for 40 Years

By Morag Maclachlan, Duke Health

Jessie Swain, CRNAWhen Senior Anesthesia Technician Jessie Swain started at Duke in 1978 he never thought he would stay until retirement.

“You never go anywhere thinking you’ll be there for 40 years,” Swain said. “But when you like what you do, why change?”

Swain retired on July 31 after 42 years at Duke. He spent the majority of those four decades with Duke Anesthesiology. He began his career as a medical supply assembler, turning over rooms after cases and stocking carts. He then became an anesthesia technician, assisting the anesthesiologists with administering medication to patients and troubleshooting equipment. Not only did he enjoy the work, he enjoyed the people.

“The most important part of the job was the friendships I made with the residents, anesthesiologists and surgeons,” Swain said. “We have a responsibility to help patients in their time of need. And we worked together as a family.”

Anesthesiologist Madhav Swaminathan, MD, said Swain always referred to him as “professor,” even early on in Swaminathan’s career. He also always asked how Swaminathan’s family was doing.

“Jessie is the consummate professional and one of the kindest human beings I know. Always working with a smile and a laugh. Eager to help anyone at any time, he simply was the role model and set the bar for professionalism in the OR,” said Swaminathan. “He makes everyone around him feel valued and important. He has probably positively shaped more lives in his 42 years at Duke than he will ever know.”

Swain is hoping to return to his Duke family in a part-time capacity beginning this fall.

“I don’t want to quit anything cold turkey,” he said. “I will come back a couple days a week to keep the camaraderie.”

Stacey HiltonFriendships Keep Anesthesia Technician at Duke for 40 Years