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VCU graduate shares love of anesthesiology in children’s book

Amber Coleman, CRNA, hopes her inspiring message resonates with all children and communities who are underrepresented in health care fields.

Woman sitting on a chair smiling. Amber Coleman, CRNA, graduated from the VCU College of Health Professions' nurse anesthesia program in 2018. (Contributed by Amber Coleman)

By Jeff Kelley

As a young girl, Amber Coleman became fascinated with the human body after receiving a special birthday gift: the game “Operation.” Using little tweezers to carefully pull-out cartoon body parts without making the buzzer sound off didn’t faze Coleman.

Soon enough, she was looking through a set of old encyclopedias when she stumbled across the word “anesthesiologist,” and she never turned back.

Coleman graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University’s College of Health Professions’ nurse anesthesia program in 2018, completed her certifications, became a nurse anesthesiologist at a local hospital and became an affiliate faculty member at VCU. You would think Coleman reached her dream after accomplishing so much, but sharing the dream with others means more. 

While passionate about anesthesia and building her specialty, Coleman also views it as a stepping stone: to mentoring others in the field, writing books, building businesses and to showing her two young children how to build a solid foundation in their own lives.

Recently, Coleman self-published a children’s book, Amber Dreams of Anesthesia.The story mirrors her own journey: a young girl named Amber received the game “Operation” for her birthday begins to explore healthcare, looking up “people who help you feel comfy during surgery” on a tablet and coming across the anesthesia specialty.

“This book is about planting a seed in kids early,” Coleman said. “They don’t have to do anesthesia or even go into health care. It’s just about having a dream, coming up with a plan, and doing it.”

Cover of a book with a little girl dressed in purple, thinking about nursing.

The book “Amber Dreams of Anesthesia” is inspired by author Amber Coleman’s childhood and love for nursing. (Contributed by Amber Coleman)

In the book, the young Amber falls asleep and into a deep dream about becoming a nurse anesthetist. Readers pick up a simple education on the path to becoming a CRNA and many of the ways in which they provide care – such as for obstetrics or in general surgery.

Coleman is clear that while the book is not specifically aimed at young Black and Brown readers, but rather all children, she hopes it resonates with those in communities of color, which are underrepresented in health care jobs.

“Representation matters, and I do have a responsibility as a woman of color to help those who look like me blaze a trail in the field,” she said.

Coleman paused her career as an ICU nurse in 2016 to pursue her nurse anesthesia education at VCU. Along with her husband and two children, she relocated from Hampton to Richmond. He commuted to work in Newport News. They had no family in the area to support them at the time, “but we made it work.”

Beyond the book, she’s partnered with her brother to start a trucking company. She’s writing a second children’s book on financial literacy. And she and her husband dabble in real estate investing, too.

Finding a balance and strong passion are important keys to success, Coleman says.

“Find your passion, be positive, make a plan, and remain persistent,” she said. “With these steps you are guaranteed to succeed and along the way elevate others.”

And most importantly — balancing the work of a CRNA, part-time author, entrepreneur, and investor — Coleman is sure to make time for their 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son.

“Like I tell our kids: ‘Dream big,’” she added.