Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are nationally certified advanced practice nurse specialists who have provided safe anesthesia nationwide for more than 100 years and since 1909 in Tennessee. CRNA training includes a bachelor's of science in nursing, a master's degree in anesthesia, and national certification. Vanderbilt has an anesthesia care team approach to patient care utilizing anesthesiologists, CRNAs, and anesthesia technicians. The nearly 100 CRNAs at Vanderbilt provide anesthesia for all types of surgical procedures including vascular, trauma, neurosurgery, plastics, radiologic and special procedures. Some CRNAs also specialize in adult cardiothoraic, pediatric, and pediatric cardiac anesthesia. CRNAs allow anesthesiologists to manage complicated cases while focusing on resident/fellow education in the OR. Anesthesia technicians assist in operating equipment used to monitor and manage patients as well as handle equipment maintenance and servicing. The CRNA Division is overseen by Chief CRNA Steve Blanks and Assistant Chief CRNA Buffy Krauser-Lupear. There are five designated lead CRNAs: Brian Reid in Ambulatory; Paul Wilson in OB/Gyn; Edith Newberry in Adult Cardiac; Robert Atwood in Pediatrics; and John Butorac in MSA.
Vanderbilt is the primary clinical affiliate of the second largest nurse anesthesia program in the country, Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia (MTSA) in Madison, Tennessee, as well as the Union University Nurse Anesthesia program in Jackson, Tennessee. MTSA is an independent institution offering a master's degree with a focus on anesthesia and the program graduates 70 or more students a year. Vanderbilt's CRNAs have the opportunity to serve on the academic faculty at MTSA and teach basic to advanced classes including pediatrics, pharmacology, respiratory physiology and pathology management. Student nurse anesthetists assist in approximately 7,000 anesthetics per year while on Vanderbilt rotations. Student Registered Nurse Anesthetist (SRNA) coordinators are CRNAs Paul Wilson and Mariah Light.
In 2009, the CRNA Division was restructured to better mirror the VUMC operating room pod organization, and the service specialist position was created to improve communication with pod members. Six service specialists were selected, five from the Multispecialty Anesthesia Division, and one representing the Pediatric Cardiothoracic Division. They are Neurosurgery Service Specialist Tammy Freehling; AOS/Ortho Service Specialist Kathy Mitchell; General Oncology/Urology Service Specialist Ken Donnell; Opthalmology/Otolaryngology/Oral Surgery/Plastics Service Specialist Mark Haffey; Out-of-OR Service Specialist Ki Szmyd-Hogan; and Pediatric Cardiothoracic Service Specialist Lewis McCarver. In addition, four CRNAs are designated as C1s to provide support and interact with the first-call residents (R1s) to assist with breaks, coordinate pre-ops, and afternoon hand-offs to the R1s.
Vanderbilt's Pediatric CRNA Educator Eileen Griffith and Adult CRNA Educator Michael Leersnyder oversee educational programs designed specifically for CRNAs in their area of specialty. CRNAs may earn as many as many as five continuing education credits each month by attending CRNA-specific programs or Grand Rounds and teaching conferences designed for the entire department. Many of the CRNAs at Vanderbilt serve in leadership roles in the specialty at both the state and national level. Two past presidents of the Tennessee Association of Nurse Anesthetists are on the staff at Vanderbilt.