Beyond The Mask: Innovation & Opportunities For CRNAs

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Ep 61: NCANA History with Cathy Briggs, CRNA

The state of North Carolina is fortunate enough to have Cathy Briggs, CRNA, documenting the history of the organization as well as the profession for the NCANA. She joins us today to look back on the lessons learned through the years, the important legal battles, and the people who have influenced the most.


Show notes and additional resources: 


Today's rundown: 

1:33 – We’re recording at the NCANA meeting in Wilmington.

2:16 – Today we’re joined by Cathy Briggs, historian for NCANA.  

2:38 – How did you get involved in this role?

3:49 – Kathy being given the lifetime achievement award from the NCANA.

4:24 – What are some of the important things in our history that we can learn from?

6:21 – 50% of all CRNAs are going to retire in the next 10 years.

6:50 – How strong is the NCANA?

7:33 – Looking back on some of the legal battles North Carolina has faced.

9:11 – North Carolina has used strong advertising efforts to create awareness for the industry.

11:37 – Who has influenced the history of the NCANA the most?

12:48 – Cathy is seeing a trend that current students aren’t as aware of the association as past generations.

15:18 – Has there been much collaboration between other advanced nursing professionals?

16:22 – What can we do to encourage SRNAs?

21:16 – Tell us more about what’s happening with legislation.  

22:42 – Some history on when the NCANA was formed.

24:44 – What would Cathy be doing if she wasn’t a CRNA?

26:14 – Final message from Cathy on staying involved.  

29:09 – Cathy recalls a message she heard years ago that sticks with her today.

Ep 60: Courage to Lead – Sandy Ouellette Reflects on Year as AANA President

Our latest installment of the ‘Courage to Lead’ series features Sandy Ouellette, CRNA, who was president of the AANA in 1989. We go back in time to reflect on her long list of accomplishments from that year and beyond. Sandy played a key role in Medicare reimbursement, the IFNA’s creation, and AANA insurance and she looks back on each of these and more.  


Show notes and additional resources: 


Today's Rundown: 

2:18 – One of our favorites is in studio with us today, Sandy Ouellette.

2:47 – Sandy takes us back through her year as AANA president.

3:42 – A list of achievements in 1989.

6:52 – ‘Sandyisms’

7:45 – What was the role of the board of directors and Medicare reimbursement that year?

9:51 – It takes a village to make these changes.  

10:28 – TEFRA and how ratios were agreed upon.

12:18 – Some history on the formation of IFNA

16:03 – AANA insurance celebrated 30 years in 2019. Why was it formed and what was the purpose of that?  

18:53 – The insurance has also created some additional benefits.  

19:21 – Sandy describes the replica dividend check she received which shows how much has been given back to the AANA.

21:17 The College Bowl has become a special event.

23:16 – Sandy shares the trade publications that have made a big impact on the industry and how history will be documented moving forward.

27:58 – What are the most valuable leadership lessons Sandy learned during her year in office?

30:05 – As this new generation of CRNAs takes over, what message would you like to get across to them?

32:05 – We need to use the power of social media for good.

34:10 – Sandy wouldn’t change her career path if given another opportunity.

36:00 – One final message from Sandy.

Ep 59: Legislative and Regulatory Issues CRNAs Face with Anna Polyak

It can be challenging enough for CRNAs to keep up with their own responsibilities each day so we understand how difficult it is to stay updated on changing legislation and regulatory issues. Did you know the AANA can be a huge resource for you? We brought on Senior Director of State Government Affairs Anna Polyak, RN, JD, to tell us about where the organization is focused and what they’re doing to help CRNAs.


Show notes and additional resources 


About the guest: 

Ms. Polyak is the Senior Director of State Government Affairs and Legal at the AANA’s where she works closely with state associations of nurse anesthetists to remove barriers to CRNA practice to assure that CRNAs can practice to the full extent of their training and education.  Ms. Polyak received her BSN and JD from Loyola University Chicago.  Prior to joining the AANA in April 2011, she worked as the Corporate Compliance attorney for a national long-term care company and served as the Associate Chief Counsel for the Illinois Department of Public Health. Prior to starting her legal career, Ms. Polyak practiced as an operating room nurse.


Today's rundown: 

2:21 – Welcome our guest today, Anna Polyak, RN, BSN, JD

3:15 – Let’s begin by talking about the legislative and regulatory things that CRNAs face and who regulates our practice.

4:46 – Why is this topic so important right now for CRNAs?

5:33 – What are some of the AANA goals have related to CRNA practice and scope of practice?

6:41 – Are all CRNAs under the board of nursing in all states?

7:43 – Anna explains the tracking service tool the AANA offers.

9:53 – Let’s talk about how CRNAs are regulated at the state level.

10:53 – AANA members can use the group to get help understanding the regulations.

11:55 – They look at these basic areas and focus attention here.

12:55 – How states can opt out from the federal supervision requirement.  

15:40 – Most members don’t know about this added value resource.  

18:35 – What states are going through certain issues currently that the AANA is spending time on?

19:17 – AANA is rolling out a pilot program in Oklahoma, Alabama, and Arkansas.

23:00 – What advice would you have for practicing CRNAs right now and what can they do to keep things moving forward?

25:42 – Sharon’s experience building relationships with legislatures in North Carolina.  

26:50 – Educating your facility administrator can also be very helpful. 

29:46 – What do you say to the CRNAs that don’t want to get involved beyond the day-to-day responsibilities of the job?

32:37 – Does Anna have any predictions about how the landscape might change in the coming years?

33:50 – Anna is in the middle of organizing a charity race.

Ep 58: CRNA Dogma & Traditions with Peter Strube: Where’s the Evidence?

Have you ever stopped and asked yourself why something is done a certain way? There are so many aspects of our job that are based on standards and procedures developed years before us but should we be questioning these? Today we talk with Peter Strube, CRNA, DNAP, about dogma and traditions in nurse anesthesia and how things will continue to evolve.


Read more and get additional resources: 


Today's rundown: 

1:43 – Let’s welcome Peter Strube to the show. Tell us a little about yourself.

3:29 – Why is this topic dogma and tradition important?

6:22 – What’s the oddest dogma that you talk about in your lectures?

7:33 – How hard is it to break tradition?

10:36 – What’s Peter’s favorite current dogma trend?

11:57 – How LR leads to panic attacks.  

13:46 – Peter recently had to undergo surgery.  

15:27 – How did Peter get involved in this area?

17:06 – Do you implement the things you learn about in your practice?

18:47 – What does the future hold for changing dogma?

21:03 – What would Peter be if he wasn’t a CRNA?

22:34 – Final message from Peter on this subject.

Ep 57: How CRNAs and SRNAs Can Deal with Stress and PTSD

Working as a nurse anesthetist can be a highly emotional and stressful position as you constantly deal with pressure to perform. That’s why there’s an emphasis being put on health and wellness by people like Jerry Hogan, DNSc, CRNA, ARNP-BC, who is the program director at Rush University. He joins us to talk about this topic and ways that CRNAs and SRNAs can cope with the stress and PTSD brought on from work.  


Read more and get additional resources here: 


Today's rundown: 

2:25 – Our guest today is Jerry Hogan, DNSc, CRNA, APRN-BC

3:37– Opening up with the key points on today’s topic of PTSD, Second Victim Syndrome, wellness, and stress.

5:55 – PTSD is divided into three clusters: re-experiencing, avoidance, and persistent arousal.

7:28 – How much of this is a societal issue?

10:09 – Anesthesia school is very trying and that’s where wellness starts.

13:13 – Jerry believes that healthy people are people that can control their thoughts and feelings and behaviors.

14:28 – We are the ones responsible for our own well-being.  

15:43 – Wellness resources that are available for CRNAs.

17:32 – How do you practice mindfulness?

20:30 – What’s your response when people say we are babying our students?

22:35 – Discussion on cognitive reframing.

26:00 – What Jerry does when his stress level is elevated?

28:31 – Jerry recaps his career and experience in the military, which led him to this field.

34:00 – Final message from Jerry

Ep 56: Courage to Lead: Looking Back at Dick Ouellette’s Time as AANA President

In the latest installment of our Courage to Lead series, we spend some time with Dick Ouellette, CRNA, MEd, who was a two-term president of the AANA. During his time serving in that capacity, Ouellette helped reinvigorate the profession by focusing on education standards and had a heavy involvement in direct reimbursement coming to pass.


Read more about this episode: 


Today's Rundown: 

2:43 – Our special guest today is Dick Ouellette, CRNA   

3:17 – Give us some highlights from your two terms as AANA President.

4:46 – The second thing he was interested in at the time.

6:19 – Where he was focused during the second term.

7:18 – Why were joint committees so important to Dick at the time?

10:39 – Direct reimbursement’s beginning and how it progressed during his term.

16:42 – What’s the significance of direct reimbursement?

19:18 – What would it look like today if direct reimbursement didn’t happen?

23:48 – Education was a big concern for Dick. What was the response when he wanted to increase requirements?

28:08 – Dick shares a great story about Sandy and education.  

28:33 – Moving to 1990 and the commission that formed.

33:06 – The thing that Dick feels we’re lacking the most today.

36:39 – If Dick could pick one other profession, what would it be?



Ep 55: How Smart Leaders Prepare for an Unknown Future with Calvin Stovall

The healthcare industry, much like the world around us, is full of uncertainty. How comfortable are you with the potential for change? Today we talk with keynote speaker Calvin Stovall about actions and principles you can apply to your life to help you continue to grow and perform at a high level.


Read more about this topic and get additional resources: 


Today's rundown: 

1:50 – Our guest today is Calvin Stovall.

4:36 – What can a person do to prepare for uncertainty?

5:43 – Widen your circle to become a better person.

7:01 – What keeps people from stepping out of their comfort zone and meeting new people?

8:51 – We aren’t taught how to fail. How does someone move forward after failing?

11:16 – Putting this podcast together was stepping out for us and a big learning experience.

12:07 – What Sharon would tell her children when things weren’t going well.  

12:59 – You should never stop learning. It’s a big part of being successful.

15:31 – What do you tell people that are scared to step out of their comfort zone?

17:58 – Do you know how much the average attention span has changed since 1980?

20:52 – What Sharon does every year to challenge herself.

22:27 – Calvin has a mastermind group that meets every quarter.

24:41 – How can take that entrepreneurial spirit and apply it to the CRNA industry?

26:29 – The book ‘Think and Grow Rich’ talks about mastermind groups.

28:20 – Why Calvin’s favorite word is passion.

31:12 – What final message would Calvin like to leave for listeners?

32:34 – How to get in touch with Calvin.

Ep 54: How CRNAs Should Prepare for Depositions with Steve Mund

No one ever expects to be a part of a lawsuit but situations arise where CRNAs have to answer questions under oath. It’s an intimidating process, especially for someone who’s never been a part of a trial before, but we’ll help prepare you for a deposition by explaining the process and how you can protect yourself.


***CE CREDIT ALERT: Did you know you can get continuing education credit from the AANA for listening to this episode? Go to to get the details and get your credit today! And see a list of other episodes that qualify for CE credit here.


Show Notes and Additional Resources: 


Today's Rundown: 

2:23 – Today we’re joined by Steve Mund.

4:07 – Why is this topic so important?

4:59 – Here’s what got Steven interested in depositions.

7:14 – Why would a CRNA ever need to be deposed?

8:26 – Steve explains the deposition process.

10:46 – You need to have a lawyer that represents you personally.

13:26 – It’s important to understand your insurance policy and what it says.  

15:44 – So I’m being sued, what do I do?

17:16 – How often do administrators have to deal with lawsuits?

18:38 – How are depositions different from trials?

21:13 – Being deposed makes people nervous. Here’s what you can do to make sure you don’t speak out of turn.  

22:28 – Charting is extremely important.  

24:24 – What do you do if you make a mistake while you’re testifying?

26:58 – If you feel like you’re losing your cool in that environment, what should you do?

29:48 – Why your demeanor can affect your deposition.

32:51 – What training or resources are available to CRNAs?

37:13 – Final thoughts on the subject.

Ep 53: Sharing the Gifts of Our Past

Past AANA presidents Sandy Ouellette, CRNA, and Nancy Maree, CRNA, join the show for the final episode of 2019. We’ll take a look back at how they’ve seen the profession evolve and discuss the gifts they’ve given and received from the profession through the years.


Show Notes and Additional Resources: 


Today's Rundown: 

1:32 – We’re joined today by Nancy Maree and Sandy Ouellette for another historical episode.

2:27 – Today we want to talk about gifts received over a career in anesthesia.  

3:42 – What drew Nancy into a career as a nurse anesthetist?

5:26 – Here’s what got Sandy into the career and it started at a young age.

8:50 – How has the educational process for nurse anesthetists changed over the past 40 years?

13:47 – Sandy remembers a coup that happened when she began school.

16:28 – Sandy talks about how different many of the processes were.

19:54 – The return on investment is still tremendous for CRNAs.

22:07 – Over 90% of CRNAs spend a career in clinical anesthesia, but Nancy and Sandy moved from clinical to educational. They talk about why.

26:47 – Both ladies have given back a lot to the profession.

31:59 – Nancy gives her thoughts on what she’s thankful for and what the next generation of CRNAs should be thankful for.  

35:45 – Here’s what Sandy is thankful for.  

37:12 – Sharon has a message for Jeremy.

Ep 52: Should CRNAs Contribute to Roth or Pre-Tax or Both?

As much as you love the work you do, eventually you’ll want to step away and enjoy time to yourself in retirement. But what’s the best way to invest for your future? Should you contribute your pre-tax money into a traditional IRA or is Roth a better option? Let’s discuss all the options available to you and what factors will determine the best route to retirement.


Full Show Notes and Additional Resources: 


Today's Rundown: 

1:52 – Today we’re talking whether CRNAs should be contributing to a Roth or a pre-tax retirement account. Or both?

2:43 – There are two sides to remember to this. First you have Roth IRA vs Traditional (or pre-tax) IRA. And now you have Roth 401k/403b vs Traditional 401k/403b

3:43 – There’s no blanket answer. It’s different for everyone.

4:40 – Let’s start with the Roth IRA. Here’s what you need to know.

6:17 – The big debate is pay taxes now or pay them later. Here’s what you should consider.

8:20 – There’s an opportunity cost for utilizing the Roth. What if you took that extra pre-tax money and invested that elsewhere?

10:23 – What are some other reasons we might potentially choose the Roth?

12:25 – If we know you need to control your taxable income, Roth can be utilized.

14:19 – Planning helps you determine what percentage of your money to put into each account?

15:36 – Why the retirement system is skewed against high-income earners like CRNAs.   

17:02 – How can you save more than the $19,000 limit?

18:55 – Jeremy explains backdoor contributions.

21:22 – Here’s the caveat to the backdoor though.

22:55 – Let’s talk about another option for CRNAs that have 1099 gigs.

25:18 – Can you contribute to both Roth and pre-tax within the same employer retirement account?

26:59 – How healthcare can impact your decision.

29:17 – Jeremy’s goal is to help the CRNA community be prepared.

30:47 – Everyone should have a financial check-up every year.

32:02 – Final thoughts on the topic.

Ep 51: Ronald Caulk, CRNA - An Agent For Global Change

Ronald Caulk poured more than 50 years of his life into being a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist and his impact on the profession can still be felt today. Among his lifetime of achievements was his determination to have CRNAs around the world recognized for the work they do. Today we’ll look back at his life and his legacy with Sandy Ouellette, CRNA.


Full Show Notes: 


On This Episode: 

1:59 – Sandy Ouellette back in the studio with us today to discuss Ronald Caulk.

2:37 – Who was Ronald Caulk and what did he accomplish?

5:02 – Most of his level of service at the state level was with the Arizona Association of Nurse Anesthetists.

6:09 – He had many AANA contributions.

7:10 – The establishment of the council on recertification and how he ended up meeting his wife Susan Smith.

10:13 – How did Sandy and Ron get involved together?

10:42 – They began working very closely when the idea of the IFNA began.

12:40 – How the IFNA formed.

15:22 – One of Ronald Caulk’s most memorable experiences happened on a trip to Ghana.

17:47 – Tell us about his contributions to the AANA and IFNA.

21:18 – Sandy tells a story about a time they visited North Carolina and Sandy’s jeep got stuck on the beach.

26:02 – How will Ron be remembered?

Ep 50: Promoting Diversity and Inclusion with Dr. Courtney Brown

The nurse anesthesia profession hasn’t traditionally been a field known for its diversity but that’s something leaders are trying to change. At the forefront is Dr. Courtney Brown at Wake Forest. She joins the show to discuss the importance of recruiting people from all backgrounds to nurse anesthesia and what’s being done to make that happen.  


Show Notes:


Today's Rundown: 

2:16 – Welcome in our guest, Dr. Courtney Brown

3:23 – Dr. Brown has made many efforts to improve diversity and inclusion at Wake Forest and that will be our focus today.

3:46 – Why is this topic of diversity so important for our field?

4:35 – We’re behind many other health professions

6:00 – Explain diversity and inclusion and what they mean.

6:28 – An example of a recent graduate that almost didn’t apply to the program because of the marketing materials.

8:26 – Is there a negative perception of nurse anesthesia due to the lack of diversity?

10:26 – Why do people associate promoting diversity with Affirmative Action?

13:37 – Now that things are on the radar, is progress being made?

16:58 – How does recruitment work and what do you look for?

19:01 – Dr. Brown shares the updated statistics from her program.

20:23 – Explaining pipeline programming and how it works.

23:04 – The balance of male versus female in the profession.

24:49 – What can faculty at other programs do to improve diversity and inclusion?

27:20 – Where can the average CRNA start?

31:52 – What should be a part of the national agenda to assist in diversifying our profession?

27:17 – Final thoughts from Dr. Brown.  

Ep 49: Thanksgiving Day Special: Showing Gratitude for the AANA

Happy Thanksgiving! To celebrate this wonderful day of gratitude, we welcome on AANA CEO Randy Moore and AANA Senior Director of Federal Government Affairs Ralph Kohl to help us give thanks for an organization that does so much for the CRNA profession every year.


Full show notes: 


On this episode: 

1:37 – Thanksgiving morning!

2:00 – We’re thankful for our guests today, Randy Moore, CEO of the AANA, and Ralph Kohl, the Senior Director of Federal Government Affairs for the AANA.

2:35 – This podcast will focus on giving thanks for the AANA.

3:12 – Ralph explains what he’s thankful for.

4:15 – What this organization means to Randy.

6:31 – What mentors – past or current – are you thankful for knowing? Randy first.

8:13 – Ralph on his mentors.

10:23 – What does success look like for the AANA from Randy’s perspective?

11:49 – Ralph’s idea of success.

12:39 – What should every CRNA be thankful for?

14:49 – How would you explain your enthusiasm for the AANA?

18:43 – How do you want to be remembered if you move on, Ralph?

20:55 – What about Sharon, what are you thankful for from the AANA?

22:00 – Jeremy shares what he’s thankful for.

Ep 48: How OSAEMR is Changing Data Collection for CRNAs

Dan Simonson and Jack Hitchens are long-time CRNAs that identified a need in the profession to be able to easily track and manage data. That’s why they created the Open-Source Anesthesia Electronic Medical Record, which they believe provides great value – at no charge – to CRNAs around the world. Find out everything you need to know about OSAEMR and its future.


Full show notes: 


Today's rundown: 

1:55 – Welcome in our two guests, Dan Simonson and Jack Hitchens.

3:55 – Today’s topic is OSAEMR or Open-Source Anesthesia Electronic Medical Record. Here’s some background on what it is.

4:46 – Why is this important for our profession?

5:32 – This even allows you to track your data as a student.

6:26 – This is a project Dan and Jack have worked on for five years. Here’s how it all started.

8:54 – A labor of love for Dan and Jack.

10:21 – It’s been a way for both guys to contribute to the profession and more than 400 CRNAs are using it now around the world.

11:44 – How does this interface with other systems already in place?

13:10 – Have these EMRs been helpful in the development in OSAEMR

15:02 – Is there a reason people wouldn’t want this data out there?

16:14 – What is OSAEMR’s motto relative to data?

17:28 – There’s no data being captured in plastics work but this can change.

20:04 – Pain management procedures are going to be a part of the data collection.

21:09 – Here’s what CRNAs can do to help OSAEMR continue to move forward and grow.

23:04 – There are three versions of the product currently.

25:56 – What are the near-term goals for the product?

26:51 – Final thoughts from Dan.

Ep 47: How Legal Cases Have Shaped the CRNA Industry

We were on location at the North Carolina Association of Nurse Anesthetists and wanted to get a historical perspective on CRNAs. With the help of past AANA presidents Sandy Ouellette and Nancy Maree, we take a look back at the important battles fought and won by nurse anesthetists through the years that help shape the way our industry operates today.


Full show notes: 


On today's show: 

1:37 – We’re recording live from the North Carolina Association of Nurse Anesthetists meeting.

1:51 – Two popular guests, Nancy Marie and Sandy Ouellette, join the show.

2:37 – Sandy highlights some of the past challenges that will help CRNA’s unite and fight future issues.

3:12 – Background on Frank vs South and why that decision is still important today.

5:04 – The next important case involved Dagmar Nelson in the 1930s.

6:34 – The road to reimbursement was a 7-year process in the 1980s.  

7:50 – How the ANA helped turn around the industry when it began dying out in late 80s.

9:25 – The ongoing issue of federal supervision of nurse anesthetists in Medicare. Why we need to remove it and what role states are playing.  

13:31 – ANA threw their support behind antitrust cases.

18:06 – Antitrust fights still go on today.

19:24 – Nancy explains the antitrust and fraud case against Twin City Hospitals in 2004 and what came from it.

23:42 – What role has the ASA played in all of the challenges and crises the industry has faced?

26:30 – The recent Anesthesia Care Team statement and why many believe it’s restrictive.

29:13 – What can ANA members do today to help the association succeed and remain strong moving forward?

30:36 – Why membership is so important for ANA.

32:24 – New students and new graduates seem to be the biggest hole in membership.

36:20 – Can the ANA be listening to members better? Here are issues they have spoken out on.

40:24 – Jeremy’s perspective as an outside on the membership issue.

44:11 – Final thoughts from Sandy on why it’s such a great time to be a CRNA.