MTSA Alumni Committee Chairman serves with surgical team in Iraq

Matthew O’Connor (’07), Major, CRNA, (middle) deployed with the Belgian Special Forces surgical team in northern Iraq.

Team treated 221 casualties during battle of Mosul

MTSA Alumni Committee Chairman Matthew O’Connor (’07), Major, CRNA, deployed in March 2017 to Iraq as part of an eight-person head and neck surgical team. In May he joined the Belgium Special Operations Surgical Team (SOST), providing ATLS and damage control surgery in Mosul.

The deployment began with the Belgians reaching out to him for assistance, as they were about to lose their only anesthesiologist. They asked if he wanted to go, and he jumped at the chance.

“There was a small degree of shock when I showed up and explained that I was a CRNA. (CRNAs do not exist in Belgium.) There was a flurry of email between myself, the exiting MDA and the Belgium government. After explaining my training and experience, they agreed [to take me on],” Matthew said.

It turned out he and the team were in the right place at the right time. They were the primary Casualty Collection Point (CCP) for the battle to reclaim Mosul from ISIS in early July.

“Over the course of three weeks we treated 221 casualties, including approximately 60 chemical casualties. We performed 11 thoracotomies, 16 laparotomies, two repairs of puncture wounds to the heart, along with burr holes, burns and many arterial repairs, and inserted three ER-REBOA catheters.”

Matthew and the team were able to resuscitate a 4-month-old who had blast injuries to the chest and neck: “When I went to intubate that baby, he was blue; there was a lot of blood in the airway. As I got my first look into the mouth and couldn’t see the vocal cords, I prayed out loud, ‘Please God, guide me.’ The ETT found the glottic opening. Then we placed two chest tubes and transported to a pediatric hospital 30 minutes away. The next day we found out the child was alive and doing well. I still thank God when I think about it.”

With plans to return home in late December, he describes his experience as the “clinical opportunity of a lifetime, though I miss my family immensely.”

Originally from Manchester, N.H., Matthew has served in the U.S. Army for 20 years and is stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky. He and his wife, Vanessa, have been married for 25 years. They have three daughters: Courtney, 23, is an RN at Skyline Neuro ICU in Nashville; twins Anna and Madison are 19 and in their second year of college. He says Madison’s goal is to attend MTSA.

MTSA faculty, staff, students and alumni join together in thanking Matthew for his service and wishing him a continued safe deployment and journey home.

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President’s Message: Combatting the opioid epidemic

Chris Hulin


The opioid epidemic continues to dominate healthcare news. It seems we are warned daily about how urgent this crisis is and the devastation it’s causing in communities across the country. The headlines are a constant reminder that this issue affects our families, friends and neighbors from all walks of life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, and that number is on the rise. CDC research shows that the majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involve an opioid. In July of this year, JAMA Surgery reported that in a study of 36,177 patients, 5.9-6.5% developed new “persistent opioid use” following surgery. As CRNAs, we should be alarmed by this statistic and at least elicit a practice self-evaluation.

MTSA is becoming part of the solution to fight the opioid epidemic by educating nurse anesthetists on treatment options that reduce or eliminate the need for opioids during and after surgery. The focal point of this effort is our new Acute Surgical Pain Management (ASPM) Fellowship, in partnership with the AANA.

In order to increase awareness of our efforts, we recently launched an advertising campaign featuring an important message:

Fighting the opioid epidemic requires a collective effort from the entire medical community. Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia is doing its part by educating nurse anesthetists to rethink the use of opioids in the operating room. In addition, MTSA continues to collaborate on a national level with lectures, workshops, and the new Acute Surgical Pain Management Fellowship. These efforts are helping provide solutions to the opioid problem while balancing patient safety and satisfaction.

Our goal is to stay on the cutting edge and continue to raise awareness among healthcare providers across the nation that, in many cases, opioid-free surgery is a reality today. As ASPM fellows complete the program, they will be able to implement the advanced interventional techniques in their local communities. Ultimately, this equates to reduced opioid dependency, which decreases the likelihood of opioid-related deaths.

Beyond the Fellowship, we are seeking other forms of collaboration that promote opioid mitigation. This includes presentations at healthcare seminars, policymaking forums and other workshops that help propagate the message to a wider audience while promoting the nurse anesthesia profession and securing a seat at the table.

As alumni, your support in this arena would be especially helpful. If you know of opportunities locally, regionally or nationally in which MTSA can provide thought-leadership or practical application to combat the opioid epidemic, please contact me at We appreciate your input and look forward to ways we can affect more positive outcomes!

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National Defense Authorization Act touts CRNA education

The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) recently announced it was able to secure language recognizing CRNA pain management fellowships in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018.

According to the AANA’s announcement, the specific language encourages the Secretary of Defense to establish educational opportunities for military CRNAs to attend accredited CRNA post graduate pain management fellowships. It was included as an Item of Special Interest in the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s report for the NDAA, which means it cannot be amended or changed before the bill becomes law.

“Inclusion of this language in the NDAA is an important milestone,” said MTSA President Chris Hulin. “I commend the AANA’s efforts to raise the profile of pain management fellowships for military CRNAs. It’s an area of specialization that continues to grow, and it’s critical that our lawmakers realize how vital our profession is in this arena.”

The AANA stated: “As part of the Department of Defense’s Long-Term Health Education Training (LTHET) program, the language will bolster the AANA’s argument that CRNAs are recognized by the federal government for their role in chronic pain management. The NDAA passed the House of Representatives on July 14. It remains one of the few pieces of legislation that is consistently signed into law each year.”

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Patrick Moss named Didactic Instructor of the Year by AANA

Patrick Moss (’15), DNAP, CRNA


Source: Newswise

Patrick Moss (’15), DNAP, CRNA, from Hendersonville, Tenn., received the Didactic Instructor of the Year Award during the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) Annual Congress, Sept. 8-12, in Seattle.

“It is very heartwarming to be recognized for that which I am most passionate, educating,” Moss said. “The most rewarding aspect of nurse anesthesia is the ability to provide acute pain management.”

A CRNA for nearly 20 years, Moss’s innovation in ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia techniques led to a partnership between Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia (MTSA) and Halyard Health, formerly Kimberly-Clark Health Care, a medical technology company. The two launched the nation’s first peer-to-peer CRNA Center of Excellence (COE) housed within MTSA’s school of nurse anesthesia.

Moss currently functions as the Regional Vice President for LifeLinc Anesthesia, where he focuses on leadership, management, consultation and education throughout various LifeLinc affiliated sites. In addition, he serves as a Consultant and the Clinical Liaison for MTSA/AANA’s Acute Surgical Pain Management Fellowship.

According to the AANA, the Didactic Instructor of the Year award, established in 1991, is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the education of student nurse anesthetists in the classroom.

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International mission effort expands to Guyana

Programs are planned for the South American country, along with Haiti

Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia’s Mission Initiative sent students and staff back to Haiti this year, and plans are progressing to add a new location for service work: Guyana.


MTSA’s Board of Trustees voted to bring Guyana on as a new mission endeavor, according to MTSA President Chris Hulin, DNP, MBA, CRNA.

“As an initial step, we’ve already sent an iPad to each of the seven students attending the nurse anesthesia program at Georgetown Public Hospital System (GPHS), which is located in Guyana’s capital,” he said.

The iPads—funded by the generous support of alumni and others from the Gala and Sporting Clay Tournament in May—are allowing MTSA to share electronic information, including recorded classroom content, test databank questions, PowerPoint presentations, audio lectures, and access to the online learning system to supplement and enhance the GPHS curriculum.

Continuing the mission effort in Guyana, three trips are planned in 2018, beginning in January. Faculty and staff will travel there to deliver curriculum and provide review sessions between semesters. They also plan to run simulations with students for additional skill development.

Hulin explained, “The idea to add Guyana to our Mission Initiative came from two sources. First, a classmate in my doctoral program, who was from Guyana, planted the initial seed for me to consider how we could help. More recently, one of our current students, Morgan Rohde, encouraged us to join in the work she and her husband, Dr. J.P. Rohde, were doing there. They’ve been instrumental in Vanderbilt’s ED nurse internship and physician residency programs at GPHS, so it was a perfect fit to join with their efforts.”

The GPHS nurse anesthesia program has graduated a total of 30 nurse anesthetists, and there are currently seven students in the program. The country of Guyana is located just east of Venezuela, in South America.


Hulin said the Haiti trip was patterned after last year’s and included providing Acute Surgical Pain Management (ASPM) care alongside hand surgeons from the Touching Hands Project, at Hopital Adventiste d’Haiti in Carrefour. The group also conducted BLS and ACLS education sessions for local doctors and nurses.

Eight MTSA students were part of the team, which also included Stace Dollar (’03), CRNA; MTSA Medical Director Rob Taylor, MD; MTSA Program Administrator Rusty Gentry, DNAP, CRNA; and Hulin.

“As always, our goal is to leave an enduring legacy. We’re there to help improve the level of care for the long term. The educational component of the trip is what really makes a difference for years to come,” Hulin said.

“These efforts are possible because of the generosity of our alumni, students and so many others who have supported our Mission Initiatives throughout the year. We truly appreciate their direct action and contributions,” he added.

The Haiti mission trip took place Oct. 7-14, 2017.

To contribute to MTSA’s Mission Initiatives, visit

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Opioid awareness ad campaign

MTSA recently launched an advertising campaign to raise awareness of the School’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. The outdoor billboard associated with the campaign (above) was displayed in various locations around Nashville in early fall.

The ad campaign also included radio spots, which read:

Fighting the opioid epidemic requires a collective effort from the entire medical community. Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia is doing its part by educating nurse anesthetists to rethink the use of opioids in the operating room. In addition, MTSA continues to collaborate on a national level with lectures, workshops, and the new Acute Surgical Pain Management Fellowship. These efforts are helping provide solutions to the opioid problem while balancing patient safety and satisfaction.

For more information, visit

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Continuing Education

Earn 1 Class A CE Credit

MTSA is pleased to continue its series of free continuing education credits in the quarterly Airways magazine. These CEs are provided as a service for MTSA alum and other CRNAs throughout the country. The school has a volume of resources as its doctoral students create expert content on a variety of topics.

We invite you to read the inserted content written by MTSA alumnus Aaron Jones (’16), DNAP, CRNA. His topic is: Maintaining Safety During Office-based Anesthesia Procedures.


Here’s how to proceed:

  1. Read the content inserted in this issue of Airways, or visit
  2. Take post-test online at:
  3. Complete evaluation at:
  4. Upon successful completion and passing of the post-test, your CE will be submitted to the AANA and you will receive a completion certificate.

NOTE:  You will have only a single opportunity to take the post test. You must score at least 80% to pass. There is no provision to re-take the test.

This program has been prior approved by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists for 1.00 Class A CE credits; Code Number 1035337; Expiration Date 9/30/2020.

MTSA is grateful to Dr. Jones for his willingness to provide this scholarly project for this CE. The Airways editorial staff wishes to express appreciation to Steven Krau, PhD, for his expert editing and formatting of Dr. Jones’s scholarly work for this CE presentation.

Aaron Jones, DNAP, CRNA

Aaron Jones is president and CEO of Nashville-based Sweet Dreams Anesthesia, Inc., which he founded in 2011 and currently covers 18 facilities (office-based, ambulatory surgery centers and hospitals) in four states. He was also the founder of Giles County Anesthesia in 2001 in Pulaski, Tenn. He graduated from MTSA’s Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia program in 2000 and earned his DNAP in 2016. He has been married for 26 years and is the father of five.

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MTSA’s new ‘entry-to-practice’ DNAP program to start in January

With the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) recently granting its accreditation to MTSA, the School has moved forward with the new DNAP Practice Doctorate program. The first cohort will begin classes in January 2018.

The “entry-to-practice” program is a course of study for 36 consecutive months. Following the first semester, online, all subsequent semesters require Middle Tennessee residency. In the third semester students begin rigorous clinical rotations that offer a vast array of clinical experiences throughout the peri-anesthesia setting, which continues through the remainder of the program.

“By 2025, all anesthesia education programs are required to offer only doctoral degrees,” said Rusty Gentry, DNAP, CRNA, Program Administrator at MTSA. “MTSA decided to get ahead of the curve and worked diligently to begin our first entry-to-practice class in 2018. Candidates for this program are ICU bachelors-prepared nurses who want to become excellent nurse anesthetists.”

The Practice Doctorate curriculum is designed to educate students on how to apply the scholarly process for translating evidence-based research into daily clinical practice. According to Gentry, the scholarly project is two-fold and includes a professional electronic portfolio to demonstrate a culmination of all course work during the program. Students produce a nurse anesthesia quality improvement project with a focus on one of the following areas: clinical practice, education, administration or business management.

Gentry added: “One difference between the completion program for CRNAs and this program is the method by which the scholarly project is produced. In the entry-to-practice program, students work in groups and collaborate, as opposed to working individually. This concept of collaborative work is new to nurse anesthesia education as well as the clinical setting. However, MTSA believes we need to prepare and educate students to be able to perform independently as well as collaboratively.

“We’re also proud that the COA found our programs to be worthy of the longest amount of time allowed for accreditation—10 years,” he said. In its letter to MTSA, the COA offered its high praise to the School’s programs, stating:

The COA would like the program to know that very few programs are granted accreditation with no progress report required. Even fewer programs have achieved the maximum accreditation of ten years. Therefore, the directors of the COA are particularly pleased to offer their congratulations to everyone at the program who has demonstrated their commitment to meeting the requirements for continued accreditation.

For more information on MTSA’s DNAP Practice Doctorate program, visit

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MTSA welcomes new Assistant Program Administrator

Tatyana G. Aultman, PhD, CRNA
Assistant Program Administrator

Tatyana Aultman, PhD, CRNA, has joined MTSA as an Assistant Program Administrator. She earned her PhD from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonia, Graduate School in Biomedical Sciences, School of Nursing. She graduated with a Master of Anesthesiology Education from Gonzaga University and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Washington State University. Most recently, she was an independent contractor with NIX Medical Center and San Antonio Endoscopy Center. And she is fluent in Russian and Ukrainian.

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Golfing for MTSA Mission Initiatives

MTSA Golf Classic participants (l to r) Matt Knight, Vice President – FTB Advisors, Mark Wiggins and Joe Crockett.


As summer faded into fall, golfers hit the links on Sept. 21 at the 14th Annual MTSA Golf Classic, presented by Raymond James. Nearly 100 participants joined in the outing, which helped provide critical support for the School’s Mission Initiatives.

“Our friends at Raymond James provided a substantial financial commitment in partnership with us, helping assure the success of the event,” said Jim Closser, CFRE, Vice President for Advancement & Alumni at MTSA.

The event was held at Hermitage Golf Course – General’s Retreat and began with lunch and concluded with a full dinner and award ceremony. New to the event this year was an air cannon, launching golf balls over 300 yards and providing an exciting twist to the hole-in-one competition.

“I’m especially grateful to our event committee, chaired by Harold Greene. Harold has participated in the MTSA Golf Classic for the last 13 years and has been a corporate sponsor. He and the committee did a fantastic job planning the event and lining up support for our upcoming mission trips to Haiti and Guyana. We are grateful for each player and sponsor that made this day so successful,” Closser added.

Major sponsors:

  • Presenting: Raymond James
  • Hole-in-One: Harold Greene, RHU – Mass Mutual
  • Dinner: Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists, PC
  • Skill Prize: The Mollenkopf Design Group, LLC

Blake Wilson, Vice President, InsBank – TMA Medical Banking​, aims the air cannon during the hole-in-one competition.

(l to r) MTSA students Andrew Sloan, Jessica Slinger, Matt Marchese and Brandon Leroy​ receive the 1st place, 3rd flight award.

(l to r) MTSA students Matt Crane and Mo Stewart; Craig Smith; and MTSA Alum Bill England (’15) receive the 2nd place, 2nd flight award.

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MTSA alumni ballot mailed

The ballot to elect 2018 MTSA Alumni Officers and Decade Representatives has been mailed to all MTSA alumni. In accordance with MTSA Alumni Association Bylaws, this ballot must be returned and in-hand at the MTSA Alumni Office by close-of-business on Thursday, Nov. 2, to be counted. The ballot includes the following nominees:

Matt O’Connor (’07)

Matt Fosnot (’10)
Rod Schwindt (’01)

Dwight Kennerson (’00)

2000s Rep:
David Murphy (’00)
Wade Rippy (’00)

1970s Rep:
Betty Perales (’77)

Pre-1969 Rep & Retired:
Lois Bernard (’68/’94)

All MTSA Alumni are invited to attend the MTSA Alumni Association Business meeting to confirm the ballot results. This meeting will be held at MTSA on Tuesday, Nov. 7, at 4:30 p.m. (CST). If you have any questions, please call (615) 732-7674 or e-mail

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Advanced Physiologic Foundations course offered online

Due to overwhelmingly positive feedback from students, MTSA continues to offer the Advanced Physiologic Foundations online course, according to Maria Overstreet, PhD, RN, MTSA Dean. The course was first offered earlier this year.

The three credit-hour course will begin in January 2018 and continue for 15 consecutive weeks.

Last year, MTSA Professor Brett Clay, DNAP, CRNA, worked with an educational consultant to convert the in-person course to an online format.

Students who took the course had the following to say:

  • “I have taken multiple online science courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels. This was, without a doubt, the best online class experience I have ever had. The instructor (Dr. Clay) goes above and beyond and was always there to walk students through material they might not have understood.”
  • “I learned more than I ever expected.”
  • “Would highly recommend to others.”

For more information about the Advanced Physiologic Foundations online course, contact Pam Nimmo at the MTSA admissions office at (615) 732-7662 or visit

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Class of 2017 Graduation Ceremony

MTSA graduation exercises for the Class of 2017 are scheduled for Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, at the Madison Campus Seventh-day Adventist Church. The ceremony recognizing this year’s 69 graduates will begin at 10 a.m.

Claude Pressnell, EdD, President, Tennessee Independent College and University Association, will present the commencement address, and Ken Wetmore, MDiv, will offer the homily.

The event will be followed by an open house on the School’s campus located adjacent to the church. Refreshments will be served.

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Class of 2019 recognized at White Coat Ceremony

The annual White Coat Ceremony was held on Thursday, Aug. 17, at the Madison Campus Seventh-day Adventist Church.


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From the Archives: Class of 1977

This issue of AIRWAYS highlights the upcoming MTSA graduation ceremony to be held Nov. 17, 2017. Featured here are five women from the MTSA Class of 1977, who graduated 40 years ago. (l to r) Bonnie Ford Cox, Betty May Winburn Perales, Patrice Tracy, Linda Talley Almes Riley and Deborah Haas.

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