January 22-28 is National Nurse Anesthesia Week, CRNA stands for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, also known as National CRNA Week.
I happen to know a few retired nurse anesthesiologists. Bob Neal of Claremont and Ron Roscoe of Conover. Both men worked for years at the Catawba Valley Medical Center, which was called the Catawba Memorial Hospital when they were hired.
When I think of an anesthetist, I imagine a woman or man sitting or standing behind or near the patient’s head in the operating room. The woman or man maintains the patient’s anesthesia while simultaneously monitoring all monitors and gizmos and notifying the surgeon when things are not as they should be, such as the patient’s blood pressure. I always thought that women or men were anesthesiologists, doctors.
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After speaking with Bob and Ron, I learned that most of the time the person responsible for the controls is a CRNA, probably on a team that includes an anesthesiologist and a number of CRNAs.
Ron handed me some documents. One article explains that before anesthesiology became a specialist in the mid-1800s, anesthesia was administered by trained nurses under the supervision of a surgeon.
Another document details what it takes to become the CRNA of today. Current registered nurse license. At least one year of experience in a critical care unit; accredited graduation from her CRNA program. and passed the national examination. Ron added that to join the CRNA program, candidates must have letters of recommendation, good grades, and a competitive edge, possibly with a tenure in a critical care setting of more than a year. North Carolina has several such programs. Upon admission, the student will spend her one year in the classroom followed by a two-year clinical rotation. A CRNA candidate can spend a total of nine years preparing for the job, and once she or he becomes a CRNA, she or he must maintain certification in continuing education classes.
Take a look at Bob and Ron’s journey to become nurse anesthesiologists. They are very different from each other and somewhat different from the path that student nurse anesthesiologists take today.
A native of Iredel County, Bob was studying history at Lenoir Line College (now the university) when he saw a sign advertising a housekeeping position at Catawba Memorial Hospital. Bob and his four companions secured a job and began working while continuing their studies at LR. “We stayed over the Christmas holidays and learned how to keep order,” recalls Bob. Since he worked in the emergency room, he was in contact with several anesthesiologists. “Meeting them and seeing what they did got me interested in this field,” explained Bob.
Ron was born and raised in Gadsden, Alabama. His goal from the beginning was to go into anesthesiology, he said. He had an older sister who was a nurse and his brother-in-law who was a surgical resident at the time. His sister suggested anesthesia. Ron attended the Capstone College of Nursing at the University of Alabama. During his last two years, he was on active duty in the Army while attending college as he enlisted in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.
back to bob. After graduating from LR, Bob studied at Western He went on to Piedmont Community College where he earned an associate’s degree in nursing. He pointed out that at the time, you didn’t have to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing to get into anesthesiology nursing school. He applied to Duke University Medical Center, where he worked in the intensive care unit for a year. During that time, he applied for and was accepted into the Duke University Nurse Anesthesia Program. In his class he had ten students, four female and six male. He graduated in March 1976.
Bob was close to home, but Ron’s academic experience took him far. After graduating from UA School of Nursing, Ron continued serving in the United States Army Nurse Corps. He worked at a hospital in Fort Gordon, Georgia, and then “they assigned me to Japan,” Ron said. Ron moved in with his wife Gail and his two children, then worked at the first hospital and then another. It was in the middle of the Vietnam War. “This was where wounded American soldiers came from Vietnam,” Ron said. “We were busy. I was a medical-surgical nurse.” He and Gail had their third child while the family lived in Japan.
Ron’s next assignment was at the School of Nursing Anesthesia at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, followed by clinical research at Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
In November 1972, Ron was an anesthesiology nurse. He continued to serve in the Army, working in various military hospitals across the country and South Korea, working his way up the ranks. He retired as a lieutenant colonel after 20 years. “When I retired, I was a course director for the clinical phase. [of nurse anesthesia training] in the darnall army [Medical Center] at the fort. Hood, Texas,” said Ron.
Ron and his family moved 11 times in 17 years. It’s time to head back south and settle down. Some people at Catawba Memorial Hospital knew about Ron and invited him for an interview. He was hired in 1985 as Director of the Anesthesia Service. In 2008 he retired from Catawba Valley Medical Center.
After graduating from Duke University’s anesthesiology nurse program, Bob worked briefly as a CRNA at Moores Memorial Hospital in Pinehurst, then was “the only anesthesiologist” at St. Mary’s Hospital in Norton, Virginia, he reports. Did. 24/7 work. He left St. Mary’s in his 1977 and returned to North Carolina to care for his sick mother. He also returned to Catawba Memorial Hospital, this time as an anesthesia nurse. He remained until his retirement 39 years later. Bob is married to Patty. they have one daughter.
Bob and Ron worked in the operating room, administering anesthesia for all kinds of surgical procedures. For the most part, they worked independently with an anesthesiologist who could be consulted if necessary. Bob was also on the team that provided epidurals during labour.
Overall, Bob and Ron seem to be good at putting people to sleep. (You knew you had to say that, didn’t you?)
Here are some more information from the document Ron shared. The American College of Nurses and Anesthesiologists writes that in the United States, anesthesia nurses have provided anesthesia to patients for more than 150 years. They work in hospitals, surgical centers, doctors’ and dentists’ offices, and any setting where anesthesia is performed. Finally, “CRNA services include pre-anesthetic assessment, administration of anesthesia, monitoring and interpretation of the patient’s vital signs, and management of the patient during surgery.”
I also read that there are nearly 60,000 CRNAs in the US and that in some places, especially rural settings, there are no anesthesiologists, only nurse anesthesiologists.
Catawba Valley Medical Center currently has 23 CRNAs and 6 full-time anesthesiologists. There are also five of his CRNAs part-time.
I’m very happy that it’s okay to refer to nurse anesthesiologists as CRNAs in this article, because spelling “anesthesiologist” is as difficult as it is to pronounce it.
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