Missouri State University
Justin Layton

Justin Layton

Life in full color opens up new world

“So many things have color that I had no idea had color."

In first grade, Justin Layton remembers seeing the circle-dot color test for the first time.

He failed that test and was told that he was color blind.

As a child, he remembers getting angry at other kids who would rip off the paper of the crayons so that he wouldn’t be able tell what color the crayons were.

Living in a world with no color

Layton has learned to adjust over the years, knowing that at times he needs to ask questions regarding colors.

On one occasion, he wandered through an empty building where his class was located to find a stranger that could decipher what color he was assigned for a group project.

Life without color was “normal” for Layton and he didn’t feel it had affected his life too much.

Aiming for the top

He went on to graduate with his nursing degree from Grand Canyon State University then started in the emergency room working trauma, where he stayed for three years. After that, he moved into the trauma intensive care unit (ICU), where he worked for one year.

Layton always wanted to work at the top of his field. He wanted to seek out the best schooling for himself, gain as much knowledge as he could and try to help as many people as possible.

"Enjoy the color around you. Don’t take it for granted!"

For those reasons, he chose to pursue the anesthesia specialty. Layton began his journey at Missouri State’s School of Anesthesia to get his doctorate degree as a nurse anesthetist in the summer of 2018.

Layton’s mom was a huge source of inspiration for him. She went back to school at the age of 50 to get her bachelor’s degree in nursing.

She was the one who told Layton about certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs). Before then, he had never heard of CRNAs.

A new outlook 

Layton’s wife, Laura, has encouraged him along the way and has been supportive of his every decision.

In the fall of 2018, she surprised him with EnChroma glasses, which amplify color and are designed specifically for color-blind people. She took him to Nathaniel Greene Park in Springfield, where the fall color was especially notable.

“I had no clue trees came in those colors: Hot pink? Neon fire orange? Fire engine Red? Purple? I always thought those descriptor words for colors were stupid, until now.

“I am overwhelmed at this new world: seeing my kid’s eyes for the first time, seeing my wife’s eyes for the first time, the vibrant colors of street signs and advertisement billboards and the bright red on the American flag,” he said.

Layton continues to pursue his dream as a nurse anesthetist in a more colorful world.

“The job of a nurse anesthetist is pretty awesome: putting people to sleep, waking them back up, keeping people pain free and helping the laboring mother

“How incredible is that?”