Why I Became a CRNA

Peter R. Carey, CRNA, ARNP

  • May 18, 2014

 CRNA since: 1970

Peter R. CareyI was having an emergency surgery at midnight on New Year's Eve at the naval station in Newport, R.I. There I met a CRNA who provided the ether anesthetic. She was a life saver, as I had a full stomach and immediately after intubation, I vomited. She handled the situation perfectly.
Years later I was speaking at a meeting on Cape Cod, Mass., and she was seated in the audience. Needless to say, I thanked her for the service and told her she was the reason I became a CRNA. Over the years I have been able to recruit many RNs into our profession. I continue to promote nurse anesthesia, and will share that information with RNs I believe would be excellent providers to our profession.
I learned to use anesthetic agents such as cyclopropane, ether, penthrane, vinethane, chloroform, all the major regional blocks including spinals, all the eye blocks, epidurals, axillary, and all the postoperative pain blocks. I was also a respiratory therapist for so many years. I practiced both areas without an anesthesiologist. I believe I may have influenced dozens of RNs who I thought would be excellent clinicians, including my daughter, Denise, who, like me, practiced as a Locum Tenens.
As far as my anesthesia education, I attended an 18-month program and received a diploma from that program. When I was in school, there were 14 companies that manufactured the machines, so we were responsible to learn how they all worked, how to maintain them, and how to clean them. Today most larger hospitals have a department to troubleshoot the machines. A lot has improved in anesthesia, especially monitoring.
Then I returned to Boston's Northeastern University for my respiratory therapy education. Right after graduation, I took a contract position in Maine working solo most of the time. From there I contracted a position in Marathon, Fla. Over two years, I incorporated as Southern Most Anesthesia. My wife and I married in Marathon, then moved to Key West. Again, I worked solo there for five years, covering all five hospitals in the Keys. We recruited some excellent respiratory therapists. Then, my wife was offered a position in Virginia, where we relocated. So then I incorporated as Virginia Anesthesia Associates.
Over the years I traveled to multiple states to provide locum tenens services. I have been approached multiple times to write a book about my experiences as a locum tenens and I always tell folks the public would assume it was fiction!

BOD 1992-1993 color

Peter, right, served on the AANA Board of Directors from 1992-93.