Scholarship Created to Honor MTSA Alumna Patty Cornwell

Many dedicated, hard-working individuals leave their imprint on a profession, but few are deserving enough to have both a scholarship and an award established in their honor. MTSA alumna Patty Cornwell (’72) is one of the deserving ones.

ABOVE PHOTO: MTSA alumna Patty Cornwell is being honored by AANA and TANA in the creation of the Patty Cornwell Stewardship and Advocacy Scholarship.

Cornwell, a retired CRNA, devoted her professional career to providing exceptional anesthesia care to patients for surgery, labor and delivery, and other surgical procedures, and she devoted her spare time to serving the nurse anesthesia profession she loved. After graduating from MTSA, she joined the AANA in 1972 and the Tennessee Association of Nurse Anesthetists (TANA) in 1976. Throughout her decades of membership, she served on dozens of committees and became passionate about advocating for her profession at the local, state and national levels.

In return, Cornwell is being honored by TANA and AANA with the creation of the Patty Cornwell Stewardship and Advocacy Scholarship, to be awarded annually to a student nurse anesthetist enrolled in one of Tennessee’s nurse anesthesia educational programs. The first scholarship will be awarded this spring. This follows the establishment in 2015 of the Patty Cornwell Practitioner of the Year Award, given annually by TANA to a Tennessee CRNA in recognition of Cornwell’s exemplary career as a clinician.

“Throughout her career, Patty was a shining example for all nurse anesthetists on how to provide high-quality, compassionate, patient-centered care,” said MTSA Chairman of the Board of Trustees and TANA President Vic Martin, MBA, CRNA. “As a dedicated association member, Patty worked tirelessly to strengthen TANA and to advance and protect nurse anesthesia practice. She truly has been a difference-maker for our profession.”

“When I was pursuing my degree, my focus was always to just get through school and get a job,” said Cornwell. “I knew nothing about the work of the AANA or state associations at the time. After graduation, I went to work in Florida. That’s where two of my colleagues took me to a state meeting for the first time and got me interested in becoming an active member.”

After returning home to Tennessee, Cornwell went on to serve on every single TANA committee – including as president three times – and was the organization’s executive director, lobbyist, and federal political director at various points during her career. She also served in various capacities for the AANA, the national association representing the nation’s nearly 60,000 nurse anesthetists. Much of Cornwell’s work focused on ensuring CRNAs’ ability to practice to the full scope of their education, training, certification and licensure.

Cornwell emphasizes to new CRNAs that how they introduce themselves to their patients can help raise awareness of the profession.

“Make sure your patients know exactly who you are,” she advises. “I always told my patients: ‘I am a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, and I will be providing your anesthesia today.’ I left no question or doubt.”

“I always encourage CRNAs and students to get involved in their state association and be as knowledgeable as possible about what is going on around them that can impact their profession and career,” she continued. “It’s important to pay attention and keep your eyes and ears open at all times.”

Source: Tennessee Association of Nurse Anesthetists

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President’s Message: Campus Growth Plans

Chris Hulin

As we look back at the last year-and-a-half or so, many changes have had to take place – while other projects have been on hold as it relates to the Covid pandemic. However, I am glad to share with you that one of our strategic initiatives is moving forward.

The long-planned Learning Resource Center (LRC) is soon to be more than words, committee planning, and design concepts. The LRC was designed by Earl Swensson Associates (ESa) and following a careful contractor bidding process, we are pleased to announce the awarding of a building contract to PBG Builders, Inc.

The LRC will be located in a 3,800-square-foot shelled-in space in Magan Hall. It will house the new library, three small group study rooms, eat-at tech bar, student lounge area complete with fireplace, conference room adjacent to three offices and an outdoor patio area with pergola. The $2 million project is totally funded by school operations, donor contributions, and a $414,000 CARES Act federal grant.

To help mitigate potential spread of the Coronavirus, the CARES Act federal grant will help fund social distancing elements added to the LRC buildout including glass wall partitions, individual study space units, automatic door openers, panel dividers, and UV filtration systems for rooftop HVAC units, and the outdoor study space.

Effective May 3 and pending that the Covid pandemic continues to wane, all students and staff will be “back on campus” (except for online classes and remote working). Our students along with staff look forward to the LRC being completed as they all come back to campus full-time.

Thanks to all who helped make the project a reality. We are grateful for the blessings the School and our students have received over the past several months. God continues to bless MTSA through you and others – and we are thankful.

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MTSA Service in Action

MTSA encourages service by its employees by providing release from regular work time to volunteer

On Feb. 25, MTSA faculty and staff volunteered to help 100 elderly neighbors during the FiftyForward Meals on Wheels service event.

Participants helped by assembling food bags and creating inspirational cards to be delivered to those in need. This year some staff also contributed personal items, such as masks, toothbrushes, toothpaste and hand lotion, as the elderly recipients are primarily homebound.

According to MTSA Vice President of Academics and Institutional Effectiveness Maria Overstreet, PhD, RN, the School also received a donation of $250 from the Sigma Theta Tau, IOTA Chapter that was used to provide additional food items.

In addition, MTSA hosted a Red Cross Blood Drive on March 9, coordinated by Lyndsey Steen, BA, Coordinator, Admissions & Recruitment. According to the Red Cross, the need for blood is constant and only volunteer donors can fulfill that need for patients in the community. Nationwide, someone needs a unit of blood every two to three seconds, and most people will need blood in their lifetime.

Special thanks to all who participated!

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MTSA improving online learning modules

MTSA has begun the process of upgrading its online modules for the Acute Surgical Pain Management (ASPM) Fellowship, making two strategic hires to help manage the improvements.

Michael Morgan, MA, Instructional Design Specialist

Deirdre Williams, BS, LMS & IT Support Specialist

Michael Morgan, MA, Instructional Design Specialist, and Deirdre Williams, BS, LMS & IT Support Specialist, are coordinating the efforts under the direction of Bill Johnson, DNAP, CRNA, Director of the Fellowship and DNAP Completion program.

“We originally built the Fellowship using content from 31 different faculty who had their own way of presenting the material,” Johnson said. “In order to provide more consistency, we’re overhauling our online modules to conform to a single template. All the content will be packaged into SCORMs (shareable content object reference models), which allow learners to navigate along a fixed set of paths through the material.”

“I’m taking existing course content and making it more interactive. So instead of clicking through a PowerPoint slide, there will be widgets and graphics that display animated information and clickable tabs to display text and images,” said Morgan, whose background includes instructional design and teaching experience at the University of Tennessee and Georgia State University, as well developing courses for corporations such as Verizon.

According to Johnson, other Fellowship content will be streamlined into smaller segments. For example, instead of watching an hour-long video, modules will allow students to navigate through different sections of the lessons at their own pace. In addition, students will have access to written transcripts of the lectures, and all the videos will have closed captioning so viewers can mute the audio and read the closed captioning as it’s being presented.

Further enhancements include knowledge checks and interactive learning assessments that students will do throughout the module, which also helps to break up the lecture. This helps reiterate what they’re learning with a series of questions, improving their knowledge retention, Johnson said.

“This process will take at least a year to fully complete, but we’re aiming to launch some of the new modules this fall with the new Fellowship cohort,” Johnson said, adding that MTSA’s goal is to transition all of its continuing education offerings to this interactive online approach, followed by the DNAP Completion program.

“I really enjoy this content because I know it’s meaningful, and it helps CRNAs become better at their profession, which helps patients with pain management. And the process of working with Bill and the team has been very constructive,” Morgan said.

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MTSA accepting applications for Alumni Grant Assistance Fund

Application cycles open and close with each semester

The MTSA Alumni Association Grant Assistance Fund is designed to aid, fund, and support MTSA students, workshop attendees, and alumni anesthesia practitioners emphasizing the continuing advancement of the nurse anesthesia profession. Application cycles open and close with each semester.

More information is available at

Program details are as follows:

General Guidelines

  • Applicant/Recipient must be engaged with MTSA as a student, Fellow, workshop attendee, or Acute Surgical Pain Management Institute project/researcher.
  • Grant funds should continue to foster the advancement of the nurse anesthesia profession.
  • Grants can support investigational studies for Acute Surgical Pain Management Institute initiated projects, USGRA workshop students/participants, and Acute Surgery Pain Institute “Think Tank” projects – papers, presentations, and podium presentations.
  • Projects that expand the body of knowledge for the nurse anesthesia are essential funding priorities.
  • Funds distributed annually are dependent upon earned income from an investment pool as temporarily designated by the MTSA Board of Trustees.
  • The award amounts may be reallocated at the discretion of the Fund Administrative Committee per the number of applicants per category.


Only MTSA enrollees and workshop attendees are eligible in the following areas:

  • DNAP-Practice Doctorate
  • DNAP-Completion
  • ASPM Fellowship
  • USGRA Workshop
  • Dual Enrollees


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Webinars introduce prospective students to MTSA

The application period for MTSA’s nurse anesthesia programs is now open. RNs have until May 31 to apply to the DNAP Practice Doctorate program. The deadline for CNRAs to apply to the DNAP Completion program, as well as dual enrollment in the Acute Surgical Pain Management (ASPM) Fellowship, is June 30.

As part of its virtual recruiting efforts – necessitated by the pandemic – MTSA has provided opportunities for prospective students to learn about its academic programs via online webinars.

In January, MTSA Program Administrator Rusty Gentry, DNAP, CRNA, presented “Nurse Anesthesia Program Basics: How to Prepare for Anesthesia School Admission.” The webinar included an overview of MTSA’s specialized academic environment, integrating the latest research, hands-on clinical practice, and one-on-one support in a unique graduate education setting. He presented information on how to prepare for anesthesia school, needed prerequisites, and what to expect upon acceptance.

In February, MTSA President Chris Hulin, DNP, MBA, CRNA, offered a live “Ask the President” webinar, which revealed what makes MTSA’s programs unique from other CRNA programs. Applicants and prospective students were enlightened on the culture, mission and values at MTSA.

In addition, MTSA’s Financial Aid & Admissions department presented “How to finance anesthesia school and admissions FAQ,” hosted by MTSA Financial Aid Director Jennifer Speer and Admissions Coordinator Lyndsey Steen. The live virtual presentation covered what students can expect regarding admissions and financial aid when preparing for enrollment to a CRNA program.

In April, MTSA presented a live online simulation with Simulation Lab Director and Assistant Program Administrator Ginger Miller, DNP, MSN, CRNA, and second-year SRNAs.

L to R: SRNAs Kyle Green and Carolyn Costilo with Ginger Miller, DNP, CRNA Director, Center for Clinical Simulation Assistant Program Administrator, Clinical Affairs; and SRNA Tyler Bauer.

Additional webinars are planned through early summer as this year’s application periods come to a close, including “Seniors Tell All,” an open dialog with MTSA seniors answering questions about the program from a student perspective. For more information on MTSA’s academic programs, visit

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Join the Fellowship

MTSA’s next Acute Surgical Pain Management (ASPM) Fellowship cohort begins this fall. The application period closes June 30.

From medical management approaches, such as multimodal therapies and opioid sparing strategies, to advanced interventional techniques, including continuous catheter utilization, the Fellowship enables CRNAs to acquire the knowledge to treat patients with confidence and skill.

The Fellowship curriculum includes special focus on perioperative point-of-care ultrasound (PoCUS), which is the use of portable ultrasonography at a patient’s bedside for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Along with its use for pain management, heart, lung and abdominal ultrasound scanning may reveal sources of hypotension, hypoxemia and other presentations of cardiopulmonary instability.

In addition, fees for the basic and advanced Regional Cadaveric Workshops are waived during the Fellowship enrollment period for any applicants who have met all the admission requirements.

For more information about the ASPM Fellowship, visit

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PoCUS Independent Study

CRNAs can now take advantage of MTSA’s Point-of-Care Ultrasound (PoCUS) courses, which are pre-approved, Class A AANA continuing education (CE) credit opportunities provided in an online, independent study format.

Courses include:

Module 1: Transthoracic Echo and the FATE Assessment
Module 2: Utility of FATE and Basic Perioperative TEE
Module 3: Volume Assessment and Focused Assessed Sonography for Trauma (FAST)
Module 4: Airway, Gastric and Pulmonary Ultrasound Assessment

For more information and registration go to

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Advanced Training for CRNAs

Regional Cadaveric Workshops

Participants in MTSA’s Cadaveric Ultrasound-Guided Regional Anesthesia workshops receive the benefits of small-group “live” scanning and needling stations, low faculty-to-attendee ratios, and an individualized learning plan that suits the attendee’s needs in regional anesthesia, according to Bill Johnson, DNAP, CRNA, Director of the MTSA Acute Surgical Pain Management Fellowship and DNAP Completion program. Information presented is highly practical and immediately useful to the attendee’s daily clinical practice.

Limited capacity is available for the following Regional Cadaveric Workshops:

Advanced Course — July 25
Advanced Course — Oct. 17

Johnson said that the following blocks will be taught and demonstrated: PECs I/II, erector spinae, infraclavicular, serratus anterior, costoclavicular, RAPTIR, quadratus lumborum, TAP (iliohypogastric/ilioinguinal, transversalis, and posterior TAP), suprascapular (anterior and posterior approaches), 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.

Instructors for the daylong workshop include Johnson; Stace Dollar, MS, CRNA; John M. Edwards, III, MS, CRNA; Kelly Martin, MS, CRNA; and MTSA Acute Surgical Pain Management Fellows.

Participants can earn up to 16 Class A CE credits by completing the pre-course content and the course content combined. In addition, the AANA designates this program as meeting the criteria for up to 2 CE Credits in pharmacology/therapeutics.

Registration is available at For more information contact Bill Johnson at (615) 732-7846,

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Mission & Awards Gala

The 7th annual MTSA Mission & Awards Gala presented by Anesthesia Medical Group took place Thursday, May 6, at the Westin Nashville. The event supports MTSA’s Mission Initiatives, including efforts in Guyana and local communities.

Emceed by Fox 17 Special Projects Reporter Dennis Ferrier, the event included an award ceremony based on nominees chosen by MTSA alumni and friends. The following awards were presented:

  • Mary Elizabeth DeVasher Distinguished Alumni Service Award: Alescia DeVasher Bethea, PhD, CRNA
  • Mission & Heritage Award: Leslie M. Andrus, MS, CRNA
  • Clinical Excellence Award: Rhonda Tucker, MS, CRNA
  • Nevin Downs Leadership Award: Amanda Dickert, DNAP, CRNA

Helping to facilitate social distancing, the Gala featured an online silent auction, which allowed those bidding on items to do so from their seats during dinner. In addition to displaying the auction items in the lobby area, guests had the option to view them via their mobile device. They placed bids via an app and were notified when a higher bid had been received. Non-attendees participated in the auction as well, and guests were not required to be present to bid or win an item.

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

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Electronic transcripts now available

MTSA is now able to send official transcripts electronically through the National Student Clearinghouse. Current students can access an unofficial copy of their transcript on the student portal, and students that need a hard copy of their official transcript mailed may fill out the Transcript Request Form. There is no charge for transcripts.

To request an official electronic transcript, visit

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Save the Dates for MTSA’s Fall Events

Golf Classic
Thursday, Sept. 16
Proceeds support MTSA’s Mission Initiatives, including efforts in Guyana and local communities.

Sporting Clay Tournament
Friday, Nov. 5
Proceeds support MTSA’s Opioid Reduction initiative.

For more information, visit

Please note, these dates are tentative as there may be unforeseen changes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Leigh Taylor joins AANA Peer Assistance program

MTSA Assistant Program Administrator Leigh Taylor (right), DNP, MS, CRNA, has joined the AANA’s Peer Assistance program as a state peer wellness advisor.

In this volunteer role, Dr. Taylor will join the effort to help destigmatize the shame associated with substance use disorders and offer a voice of compassion to nurse anesthesia professionals when they need it. CRNAs and SRNAs can contact her for all aspects related to drugs/alcohol impairment, suspicion of drug diversion, substance use disorder, adverse event support, and questions related to fitness for duty.

The AANA Peer Assistance Helpline (800-654-5167) provides confidential assistance, informational support, and referral resources to nurse anesthesia professionals. Dr. Taylor will serve alongside three other state peer advisors in Tennessee, ensuring that CRNAs and SRNAs in our community get the help they need during times of crisis.

For more information, visit

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From the Archives: Class of 1978

Members from the MTSA Class of 1978 shown following the graduation ceremonies. (L to R) Graduates with diplomas are Charles R. Cummins, Lynn Knox McWilliams, and Eric Bernard Richmond. MTSA administrators include Mary Elizabeth “Ikey” DeVasher, PhD, CRNA; Nevin Downs, MD; William O.T. Smith, MD; and Bernard Bowen, CRNA. During these years, MTSA graduated approximately 16 students per year, celebrating graduations quarterly.

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