MTSA Broadens Digital Content for Programs

Students now can complete more coursework online

As trends in higher education continue to evolve, administrators at Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia are making sure students receive program content in a format that meets their needs. In many cases, that means an incremental shift from the classroom to online coursework.

For instance, the Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP) Completion Degree for CRNAs is now offered completely online over the course of two years. In addition, the new Acute Surgical Pain Management (ASPM) Fellowship features online modules for all of its coursework, along with hands-on workshops.

“We designed the DNAP Completion program with the working CRNA in mind,” said MTSA Dean Maria Overstreet, PhD, RN (left). “The primary purpose is to continue to advance the nurse anesthesia discipline by preparing CRNAs with the knowledge and skill set to translate research into daily practice.”

Since 2013, the School has offered different formats and types of educational delivery for the DNAP Completion program. In the process, administrators have received valuable feedback from students who have completed their degree. Using this feedback, Overstreet said MTSA created a two-year program which enables doctoral students to be successful in managing the coursework as well as a full-time job and the responsibilities of their home life.

“I feel the two-year program allows for a more balanced life style while trying to devote specific time to study. It also means students no longer have to travel to MTSA for an intensive week each semester. Instead, MTSA comes to them. The benefit of having an online format allows MTSA to reach students near and far. Because of the advances in the ease and use of technology, a CRNA in another state—or even locally—can have a ‘digital’ face-to-face meeting with faculty if they have questions, need clarification, or want to discuss a particular topic of interest,” Overstreet said.

Another new option for CRNAs is dual enrollment in both the two-year DNAP Completion program and the ASPM Fellowship. This dual track allows doctoral students to complete their doctoral coursework in the first year and devote their second year to the coursework in the Fellowship while completing a scholarly project with a focus in acute pain management. In addition, students who take the dual enrollment option are eligible for a 25 percent tuition discount for each program, Overstreet said.

Led by Bill Johnson, DNAP, CRNA (left), MTSA’s ASPM Fellowship is entering its third year and continues to attract CRNAs from across the country. Participants are now eligible to receive 150 Class A CE credits upon completion of the program.

“The MTSA Fellowship faculty along with Dr. Johnson, an expert in acute surgical pain management, will provide content expertise in the scholarly projects for those students who choose dual enrollment. In addition, Dr. Johnson has embraced online technology for the ASPM Fellowship and has created three comprehensive online courses. Each course contains multiple modules that the Fellows complete within a specified time period. The new learning management system allows learners to access the course materials from their home computer or mobile device,” Overstreet said, adding that the School will be implementing similar technology for the DNAP Completion program.

The objective of the Fellowship—a partnership between the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) and MTSA, as well as a component of the Pain Management Curriculum—is to advance the knowledge and skills of CRNAs in acute surgical pain management and prepare them to help meet the growing need for this evidence-based approach in the United States.

The application period for the DNAP Completion Degree and ASPM Fellowship is now open through June 30. The programs start Sept. 2. These dates also apply to dual enrollment.

For more information, visit

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President’s Message

Leading with Inclusivity and Appreciation

EDITOR’S NOTE: In this issue of Airways, MTSA President Chris Hulin welcomes a guest columnist: Rod Schwindt, MS, CRNA, President of MTSA’s Alumni Association.

Rod Schwindt, MS, CRNA
President of MTSA’s Alumni Association

It is truly an honor to have recently been elected to serve as President of MTSA’s Alumni Association. We have a phenomenal group of committee members who are passionate about bringing together our alumni community in new and exciting ways.

The committee has already begun dreaming and brainstorming about 2019 and the many opportunities to benefit nurse anesthesia through the vast network of professionals who have come through MTSA’s doors over the years. Our ideas aren’t necessarily groundbreaking, but our intention is to be as inclusive and welcoming as possible in order to give all alumni a voice in how we move forward.

These are some of the themes we would like to explore, with your input:

Appreciation. Our work can often be thankless. As an Alumni Association, we are committed to a mindset of thankfulness for the essential care you provide each and every day. In addition, the support you offer to the School is something that is deeply appreciated and helps real people in places near and far. We couldn’t do this important work without YOU!

Service. Whether it’s going on an MTSA-led mission trip, mentoring current students or new graduates, or volunteering in your local community, we have enormous potential to help those around us who can benefit from our skills and expertise. We want to offer more opportunities for you to connect your passions and your profession.

Career Development. You can never go wrong being a lifelong learner. That’s why we are continually exploring ways to help you advance your career and reach your professional goals. It can sometimes be difficult to find time for continuing education, so we’re interested in working with the School to provide unique ways to deliver the content that matters most to you, in a format that’s most convenient.

Whether you recently graduated or have been a practicing CRNA for several decades, we want you to know that your opinions and suggestions are important to us. Please feel free to contact me directly at (615) 305-9432 and share what you would like to see from our alumni organization.

Thanks for all you do to care for patients every day. I look forward to seeing all the amazing things we’ll do together in the coming months and years!

Rod Schwindt (’01), MS, CRNA

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Final Preparations Underway for MTSA’s 6th Annual Mission & Awards Gala

Committee members planning the 6th annual MTSA Mission & Awards Gala presented by Anesthesia Medical Group are putting the finishing touches on the event, which is scheduled to be held Thursday, April 25, at the Westin Nashville.

The Gala supports MTSA’s Mission Initiatives, including efforts in Haiti, Guyana and local communities. Tickets are available at

Part of the Gala will include an award ceremony based on nominees chosen by MTSA alumni and friends. The award categories include: Mary Elizabeth “Ikey” DeVasher Alumni Distinguished Service Award; Nevin Downs, MD Leadership Award; Clinical Excellence Award; and Mission & Heritage Award.

“Last year was the first time we offered a silent auction. It went over really well with all the attendees and raised $6,400,” said event chair Ashley Jacobs Mansfield, MS, CRNA. “This year we’re excited about all the great items we have for the auction. They’ll be available for bidding during the reception hour preceding the dinner and award ceremony.

“This event is a wonderful way for all of us in the nurse anesthesia community to connect and to honor one another. We have colleagues who are doing amazing work, and it’s really a great way to recognize them. Being nominated and chosen by your peers is truly a career celebration,” Mansfield said.

“At the Gala, you end up talking with people you might not have seen since you went to school, or perhaps at a previous work setting. It’s so unusual for us to get dressed up and see each wearing something other than scrubs!” she said.

Above all, Mansfield hopes that participants realize how important it is to give to a worthy cause: “We are incredibly blessed in our jobs, and it’s a great privilege to give back and to help improve health care outcomes for many people who are struggling in different parts of the world. We’re helping to plant seeds within those communities that will continue to grow for years to come.”

For more information about MTSA’s Mission & Awards Gala, contact the Advancement & Alumni Office at (615) 732-7674 or visit

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MTSA Faculty Lead Opioid-awareness Event

New pilot program aims to reduce opioid abuse

MTSA faculty member John Edwards, MS, CRNA, speaks at an opioid-awareness event in Lexington, Ky.

As the nation continues to face a widespread opioid epidemic, MTSA faculty members John Edwards, MS, CRNA, and Stace Dollar, MS, CRNA, have been at the forefront of raising awareness in their hometown of Lexington, Ky. They recently joined with community leaders for a special presentation and screening of the film Beautiful Boy at the Kentucky Theatre.

Starring Steve Carell and based on a true story, the film explores the difficult choices families must face in confronting addiction. Baptist Health Lexington co-hosted the presentation with Lexington’s new mayor, Linda Gorton, who is a registered nurse. Edwards and Dollar are both CRNAs at Baptist Health Lexington as well as faculty for MTSA’s Acute Surgical Pain Management (ASPM) Fellowship.

Edwards was one of the featured presenters and offered new strategies to keep opioids from being diverted and misused, including a pouch that enables patients to deactivate unused pills at home.

“We’re going to zip this closed, we’re going to shake this up for about 30 seconds, and the stuff that’s in this pouch is going to deactivate those opioids so they can’t be misused or abused,” Edwards said during the presentation. He also discussed the importance of acute surgical pain management utilizing the modalities taught in the ASPM Fellowship and ways to prevent new persistent opioid use.

“As CRNAs, we can make a big impact on the opioid epidemic. I really believe that excellent patient care must be individualized, which might mean an ‘opioid-free’ approach or an ‘opioid-sparing’ approach, but it must be ‘opioid-responsible,’” Edwards said. “I would not have been able to deliver this message without the education that I received at MTSA in the Acute Surgical Pain Management Fellowship.”

In conjunction with Baptist Health Lexington’s Acute Pain Service, Edwards and Dollar have been instrumental in a pilot project to provide each surgical patient who is being discharged from the facility with a three-day supply of both acetaminophen and ibuprofen, an educational brochure about the safe use of opioids, and an at-home disposal kit to safely dispose of any unused opioids.

“We believe that by creating an environment where acute surgical pain is well-managed without the primary reliance on opioid medications allows for a more responsible utilization of opioids in our surgical patient population. We want to have an impact of the six percent of surgical patients who develop new persistent opioid use after a surgical procedure, and we believe that our pilot project will take the first steps in reducing this known surgical complication,” Edwards said.

In addition to using acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), discharging patients with effective acute pain management can be accomplished with continuous peripheral nerve catheters when appropriate, according to Edwards. “Our utilization of evidenced-based, patient-reported opioid prescribing guidelines allow for effective acute pain management and a reduction in the amount of opioids that enter our community.”

For more information about how MTSA and CRNAs are combatting the opioid epidemic, visit

John Edwards, MS, CRNA

Stace Dollar, MS, CRNA

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MTSA to Offer Advanced Physiologic Foundations Class this Fall

MTSA announced it will offer its online Advanced Physiologic Foundations Class starting on Sept. 2. The deadline to apply is Aug. 22.

The class is taught by MTSA faculty member Brett Clay, DNAP, CRNA (left), and is designed for registered nurses who would like a deeper understanding of physiology in relation to everyday clinical care. It covers advanced human physiologic concepts at the system, organ, cellular, and subcellular levels, with the overall goal to enhance the learner’s foundation for nursing practice.

“This class provides a unique opportunity for RNs to evaluate their readiness to undertake graduate level education,” Clay said.

Part of the Advanced Physiologic Foundations Class curriculum also includes foundational concepts; central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems; cardiovascular system; respiratory system; and renal system, according to the class syllabus.

More information about the class is available at

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MTSA Service In Action

Debbie Rose

Debbie Rose has a unique talent. She can hear a song once and remember it well enough to play on the piano years later, without the aid of sheet music. Having this skill has enabled her to bring the gift of music to a special facility that cares for senior adults with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The Veranda in Gallatin, an outreach of Veranda Ministries, provides daytime respite care to allow family caregivers time for themselves. The program started in 2012, and Debbie began serving there two years ago when MTSA’s Board of Trustees and President Chris Hulin encouraged staff to get involved in local service opportunities during the workday.

“I called to ask if they could use someone to come visit and play the piano,” Debbie said. “I’ve played piano for a long time, and I can play by sight and ear. So I can take song requests and be able to play it with or without sheet music.”

The group’s favorites include traditional hymns, holiday songs and patriotic tunes, according to Debbie. During her sessions at the facility, many of the seniors—including those who aren’t normally able to communicate—enthusiastically sing all the songs.

“I knew from my experience with my father-in-law, who had Alzheimer’s, that music really touches you in a way that continues to resonate even if you’re not able to have other connections,” Debbie said. “As soon as the music starts, it draws them out and they ‘come alive.’ The seniors at the facility who recognize and remember me love to say, ‘Oh there’s our piano lady!’”

Debbie comes from a musical family. She said her mother was always playing records and had grown up with deep roots in Southern gospel music.

She recalled a recent time that her music background came in handy: “The director of the program asked the group if there was a song they hadn’t sung in a long time that they really liked. One gentleman raised his hand and said, ‘What about 16 Tons?,’ which is an old Tennessee Ernie Ford song. I knew the song well, so we all sang it, and I played it several times! The fact that guests could remember music and words to a song from the 1960s is an example to me of how strong a mind-heart connector music is. This is especially encouraging as other memories and senses fade.

“They also love patriotic songs, and there are several veterans in the group. We would say the Pledge of Allegiance then sing some patriotic songs, but there was no flag. So one of the first things I did when I started going there was to order a big flag on a stand, and they love it. One gentlemen came up afterwards with tears in his eyes and said, ‘Thank you so much for being patriotic. I don’t see much of that anymore, and I’m so proud of that.’ It was really a touching moment.”

Debbie said she appreciates The Veranda’s work because it helps with an important need for caregivers. In addition to special activities, they provide lunch to the seniors and sometimes take them out to eat. The ministry also has a fund for when families aren’t able to afford their services.

“Because they’re only open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays—and we have off on Fridays at MTSA—I wouldn’t have been able to be involved. So I’m very thankful that Chris and the board extended that flexibility and gave the initiative to employees. Without that, I wouldn’t have been able to serve in this way,” Debbie said.

Reflecting on the importance of service, Debbie said that although careers can take up a lot of time and energy, it’s important not to lose sight of what really matters in life.

“I’m so grateful to have an opportunity to share my talents. I believe we’re happiest when we find ways to use our gifts to help others. As you get older you start to think about a legacy to leave behind. It’s not necessarily about big philanthropic efforts but the day-to-day—how we can help others and be an encouragement,” she said.

Debbie Rose Retirement Celebration

In February MTSA faculty and staff offered a heart-felt sendoff to Debbie Rose, who retired after working at the School for 17 years, most recently as Director of Financial Aid.

Debbie joined MTSA in 2002, working with a team of about six or seven other staff in the business office. As the enrollment continued to increase from approximately 30 students at the time, she and her colleagues maintained flexible roles and made sure they did “whatever needed to be done” to keep up with the School’s growth, she said. In fact, she even served as interim business director for a time as well as working in student recruitment. She became Director of Financial Aid five years ago.

“Debbie has been instrumental in raising the bar for our financial aid department,” said MTSA President Chris Hulin. “She has committed herself to a level of service, both on campus and off, that has meant the world to so many people.

“In terms of our institution, she has focused on providing crucial financial counseling to our students. She has helped them keep their debt manageable and instilled an ethic of good stewardship to our student body. Her positive influence and heart for service will be greatly missed, and we wish her many blessings as she embarks on this new phase of life,” Hulin said.

Debbie Rose with (l to r) her brother, Victor Martin, CRNA, Chairman of MTSA’s Board of Trustees, and husband, Bob.

MTSA staff members (l to r) Lynn Ray, Linda Jones, Jennifer Speer, Debbie Rose, Pam Nimmo, and Candace Foreman.


Airways: How did you come to work at MTSA?

Debbie Rose: My early career experience was in office management for legal offices and a Fortune 500 company. I also worked as an assistant to Texas Governor Preston Smith. My family had known Dr. Mary “Ikey” DeVasher, PhD, CRNA, [MTSA Dean Emerita] from years ago, when I was in high school and her husband Bernard taught math at Highland Academy in Portland, Tenn. She and Bernard came there as new college graduates, and Ikey was a nurse at that time. My mother was a nurse, so our family knew each other then. Both of my younger brothers are CRNAs. My youngest brother is MTSA’s Board Chairman Vic Martin. Ikey knew I was working in office administration, and she was looking for a business assistant and wondered if I’d be interested, so that’s how it came to be.

Airways: How did you prepare the financial aid department for your eventual retirement?

D.R.: During the last year of accreditation, the Council on Accreditation (COA) noted that we had a high level of students taking financial aid (around 90%) and that it was getting to be a challenge to manage it all during the accreditation process. So we made another hire to assist for that reason. Jennifer Speer had excellent financial aid experience, and hiring her two years ago allowed us time to work together and make it a smooth transition.

Because MTSA is a graduate school, we’re different from the traditional college environment due to all the types of loans our students are not eligible for. For that reason, our focus is on providing students with a lot of financial literacy on a regular basis, trying to encourage them to take the funds they need but not over-extend themselves. We also give them ideas on how they can best pay them off.

Airways: What is one memory of your time here that resonates with you?

D.R.: I remember one of my responsibilities as we bought the additional property years ago and added the classroom space in Building A was coordinating the landscaping. I like outdoor planting, and it was fun for me to water the trees and shrubs and to help keep everything looking nice. I still enjoy seeing the different trees as they start to bloom. It gave me a sense of pride knowing I was part of improving how the campus appeared because it’s important to students and parents or others driving by that we make a good first impression.

Airways: What will you remember about interacting with students and the influence you had with them?

D.R.: When you see students in the community after they’ve graduated, you may not remember the name but you recognize the face. They remember you and they’ll come up to you in the grocery store and say, “You really helped me,” or “You really encouraged me.” It was nice to be in a work environment where it’s safe to offer encouragement and even pray with someone who needs it.

Airways: What else was special to you about MTSA?

D.R.: I ended up coming full circle in a way. I finished my career in the building right across from Tennessee Christian Medical Center, and my two brothers and I were born right there at Madison Hospital. My mother received her nurse’s training on the same campus. My daughter is an anesthesiologist and when she worked at Tennessee Christian she actually taught at the school of anesthesia for a while because she had been an OB nurse. So it’s really interesting that there are so many wonderful connections over the years.

Airways: And the question everyone asks… what are your plans for retirement?!

D.R.: First, I’m just going to take a step back and get used to the idea of having a different focus. I don’t have big plans at this moment. I’ve committed to continue serving at The Veranda every other week, playing piano. My husband, Bob, and I like to take road trips. He is semi-retired from his job as a cabinet millwork designer and salesman. So I’m sure we’ll be doing more travel to the beach and to University of Kentucky basketball games, since my blood “runs blue”!

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MTSA Invites Alumni, Friends to Fall Fundraising Events

MTSA invites alumni and friends to “take aim” and “hit the links” in two upcoming events this fall:

16th Annual MTSA Golf Classic
Thursday, Sept. 19
Hermitage Golf Course

3rd Annual MTSA Sporting Clay Tournament
Friday, Nov. 8
Nashville Gun Club

The Golf Classic offers the chance to go for the green while supporting the School. Teams of four will compete in a scramble format, and first, second and third place prizes are awarded in three flights. Lunch and dinner are provided during the event.

MTSA’s popular Sporting Clay Tournament returns for its third year, allowing marksmen and novices alike to hit moving targets at multiple shooting stations at the Nashville Gun Club. Lunch will be provided, and prizes are awarded for participants who hit the most clays.

“We’re excited to have these opportunities each year to have fun while supporting the important work of the School,” said Jim Closser, CFRE, vice president, Alumni & Advancement. “We appreciate everyone’s participation in the past and look forward to another great year!”

Team registration and sponsorship opportunities are available now by visiting and clicking on the specific event, or by calling (615) 732-7674.

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Regional Cadaveric Workshop to be Offered in August

MTSA is offering one more opportunity in 2019 for CRNAs to participate in a Cadaveric Ultrasound-Guided Regional Anesthesia (USGRA) workshop. The course is offered on Aug. 4.

More information and registration is at

The hands-on training course utilizes state-of-the-art ultrasound technology and a comprehensive approach to regional anesthesia techniques for surgery and acute pain management, according to Bill Johnson, DNAP, CRNA, Director of MTSA’s Acute Surgical Pain Management Fellowship.

The following blocks will be taught and demonstrated: IPACK, PECs I/II, erector spinae, infraclavicular, serratus anterior, costoclavicular, RAPTIR, quadratus lumborum, TAP (iliohypogastric/ilioinguinal, transversalis, and posterior TAP), suprascapular (anterior and posterior approaches), PENG, and paravertebral nerve blocks. Advanced approaches to upper and lower extremity will also be taught, to include: axillary at the circumflex artery, distal upper/lower USGRA blocks, and anterior sciatic.

“Anatomists from a local university (trained PhDs and DPTs) will be performing the dissection and instruction of the anatomy related specifically to regional anesthesia,” Johnson said. “Simultaneous explanations of sonoanatomy will coincide with the gross anatomic dissections. These anatomists will also teach neuromuscular assessment of nerves, mapping of nerve lesions, and documentation of these findings.”

The program has been prior approved by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists for 16.00 Class A CE credits. AANA designates this program as meeting the criteria for up to 2.00 CE Credits in pharmacology/therapeutics. Participation is limited.

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Speer Named Director of Financial Aid

MTSA announced Jennifer Speer (left) has been promoted to Director of Financial Aid, taking the reins from Debbie Rose, who recently retired.

Speer joined MTSA two years ago as Assistant Director of Financial Aid and shared responsibilities with Rose as the two worked to promote financial literacy and ensure students have the tools and resources needed to understand their financial obligations.

“I am following in the footsteps of a kind and classy lady who has much history with this School and this area,” Speer said. “Debbie’s shoes are mighty big to fill, and she is sorely missed. We wish her all the best in this next phase of life.”

As MTSA enters the 2019-20 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) filing season, Speer said she will be working with students on using the new mobile app created by the U.S. Department of Education, myStudentAid, which gives students the ability to complete the FAFSA from their cell phone.

“We maintain our commitment to the students by continuing our entrance orientations and advocating financial literacy. Internally we are working toward digitizing more of our processes, and we look forward to an exciting and full year!” Speer said.

In addition to Speer’s promotion, MTSA has hired Sara Metcalf as Financial Aid Counselor.

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Tennessee Association of Nurse Anesthetists ‘Day on the Hill’

MTSA students meet with Tennessee State Representative Curtis Johnson at TANA’s Day on the Hill: (l to r) Megan Christian, Stacey Waller, Cooper Hardin, Cassie Hudson, Ryleigh Watts, Rep. Johnson, Danielle Wojno, Madison Shiner, Taylor Allen, Katy Prince, and Craig Harwell.

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From the Archives: MTSA’s Founder

Bernard V. Bowen stands next to his portrait at the Bowen Society reception held in May, 2008. The Bernard V. Bowen Society honors the life and legacy of MTSA’s Founder and first Program Director. Consider joining this special group. Memberships are renewed annually. For more information visit or call the MTSA Advancement Office at (615) 732-7672.

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