20 Outstanding Professors of Nurse Anesthesia

Nurse Anesthetists are a special designation of clinical nurses called CRNAs (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists). According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, these highly trained nurses administer over 30 million anesthetics to patients each year, often under incredibly stressful situations. Whether it’s during childbirth, emergency and critical care, or end-of-life care, nurse anesthesiology is a vital component of the healthcare system, providing support for surgeons, and safety and relief for patients, around the US. Aspiring nurse anesthetists must prepare properly for the clinical precision and stresses of this advanced nursing career, and what better way to do so than to be trained by one or more of these 20 outstanding educators in the field?

Charles A. Vacchiano


Duke University

Durham, NC

After spending 26 years as a Navy nurse anesthetist, Dr. Vacchiano turned his career towards clinical research. He has been published in journals like the American Journal of Physiology and Cardiovascular Research, and has been a contributing editor for others. In 2012, he was elected President of the Board of Directors for the National Board for Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA). In addition, he was the AANA Researcher of the Year in 2007.

Margaret F. Callahan


Marquette University

Milwaukee, WI

Dr. Callahan, is the Dean and a professor in the Marquette University College of Nursing and currently acts as the interim provost. Her commitment to continued research has led to a 100% increase of professional publication under her management of the Nurse Anesthesia program, in addition to a 92% pass rate for NCLEX student exam takers. In 1996, she received the AANA Program Director of the Year award and is often cited in the areas of palliative and end-of-life care.

Cheryl L. Nimmo


University of New England

Biddeford, ME

Dr. Nimmo’s expertise is in the areas of clinical training, mentorship, and administration when it comes to Nursing Anesthesia. She currently acts as the Assistant Program Director and didactic professor at UNE. Her educational focus is on generational differences as related to clinical teaching, and her work has led her to national recognition as the current Vice-President of the AANA.

James R. Walker


Baylor College of Medicine

Houston, TX

Dr. Walker is one of the most accomplished professors of Nurse Anesthesia, with commendations from the US House of Representatives, National Academies of Practice, and the AANA. His extensive work with the AANA led to his Presidency during the 2009-2010 fiscal year. In addition, he received a US Congressional Honor during the same time for his advocacy for CRNAs and his representation of the AANA before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veteran Affairs. In 2014, he received the Outstanding Educator of the Year award from the AANA.

Paul Bennetts


University of Kansas

Kansas City, KS

As the Director of Research at University of Kansas, Dr. Bennetts brings his high standard for clinical investigation to a new generation of researchers. In addition, his experience as a nurse anesthetist for the US Army Reserves (Operation Desert Storm) has been integral to his interest in and experience with ambulatory anesthetic. In 1990, he received the AANA Research in Action award for his work with resuscitation protocol for reducing hemorrhagic shock.

Paul Austin

CRNA, PhDTexas Wesleyan

Fort Worth, TX

As the Director of Curriculum and Research at Texas Wesleyan, Dr. Austin ensures that his students adhere to the same research standards that have make him so influential in the Nurse Anesthesia community. In 2013, his research about laryngeal and tracheal options for operative patients led to receiving the AANA John F. Garde Researcher of the Year award. 

Joseph Burkard


University of San Diego

San Diego, CA

A former Naval Commander, Dr. Burkard brings his 31 years of experience into the classroom to national acclaim. The former Nursing Program Director’s research has focused on anesthetic post-operative complications and treatments for post-traumatic stress. He is very involved in the California Association of Nurse Anesthetists (CANA) and has served as President as well as receiving the CANA Instructor of the Year Award twice (2000, 2002).

Michael J. Kremer


Rush University

Chicago, IL

Dr. Kremer is both a professor and the Director of the Nurse Anesthesia program at Rush. He has been recognized for his teaching and researching skills, earning the the AANA Outstanding Educator Award (2009) and the Research in Action Award (1992). Kremer is a past evaluator for the Higher Learning Commission and was a member of the AANA Foundation Closed Claims Study. 

Erik Rauch


University of South Florida

Tampa, Florida

Dr. Rauch is the Assistant Director of Nursing at USF, in addition to the acting Director for the Nurse Anesthesia program. In addition to teaching courses and mentoring graduate students, Rauch has developed a Pain Fellowship for the students attending his program. His work in this area has earned him national recognition, and in 2013 he was awarded the Jack Neary Pain Management award from the AANA.

Judy Thompson


Quinnipiac University

North Haven, CT

Dr. Thompson teaches Principles of Ethical Theory in Nursing, Professional Aspects of Nurse Anesthesia, and Clinical Practicum courses. She is also a nationally recognized program director for Nurse Anesthesia. In 2014, she earned the AANA Program Director of the Year award. She is heavily involved in presenting her thoughts about nursing education, and has been a featured speaker with the Apex Anesthesia Review.

Ladan Eshkevari


Georgetown University

Washington, DC

Dr. Eshkevari is uses her experience as both CRNA and certified acupuncturist to provide a unique insight into alternative medicine and anesthesia. Her clinical research focus is on using acupuncture to combat chronic stress and pain. In 2013, her research earned her the Researcher of the Year Award from the Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society in Nursing and the Researcher of the Year Award from the AANA (2014). In addition, she was recently elected to the AANA Foundation board (2014).

Bette Wildgust


Villanova University

Villanova, PA

Bette Wildgust has been recognized both at the state and national level for her mentorship and direction of Nurse Anesthesia students and programs. In 2012, she received the Program Director of the Year Award from the AANA. She has also received commendation from the Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists (PANA) for both Director of the Year and Didactic Instructor of the Year (2010). In addition to teaching, she currently serves on the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing.

James C. Roberson


Columbia University

New York, NY

Dr. Roberson is the Director for the Nurse Anesthesia program at Columbia University in addition to having teaching duties. He is a Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator (CHSE) and focuses his research and lectures on obstetric, ambulatory, and humanitarian anesthesia. Roberson is actively engaged in humanitarian projects, including membership in the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Initiative on Essential and Emergency Surgery, and Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO).

Michele E. Gold


University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA

Dr. Gold is both a professor and the Nursing Anesthesia Program Director at USC. Her research and education focus is on pharmacology and its uses in anesthesia management. This research has been incredibly influential, and earned her the AANA Clinical Researcher of the Year award in 2004.

Wynne Waugaman


University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA

As the founding director of the nurse anesthesia program at USC and a past director of programs at UCLA and Ohio State University, Dr. Waugaman is an unparalleled leader in the field. She is one of the contributing writers for Principles and Practice of Nurse Anesthesia. In addition, she has earned the AANA Outstanding Educator Award (1997), the AANA Foundation Research Scholar Award (1999), and the Sophie Winton Award for Distinguished Service from the California Association of Nurse Anesthetist (CANA) in 2004.

Philip D. Lumb


University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA

Dr. Lumb is a professor of Anesthesia in addition to being the Chairman of the Nurse Anesthesia program at USC. His research, which focuses on cardiac and critical care anesthesia, have earned him accolades at the college and national level. He served as the President of the World Federation of Societies of Intensive and Critical Care Medicine Council (2011) and as the Chancellor of the American College of Critical Care Medicine (2000).

Gayle B. Lourens


Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI

Dr. Lourens is also dedicated to the integration of technology into her nursing anesthesia program. Her efforts with development and integration of virtual reality into her classes have earned her numerous awards, including the AANA Didactic Instructor of the Year (2013), AT&T Information Technology Award (2013), and the Michigan Association of Nurse Anesthetists (MANA) Guiding Light Award. She currently teaches Anesthesia Physiology and Pathophysiology, Principles of Anesthesia, and Clinical Practicum courses.

Albert Swafford, Jr.


Our Lady of the Lake College

Baton Rouge, LA

Dr. Swafford is known for his unique, hands-on teaching style and innovative research for Nursing Anesthesia. In 2011, he received the AANA’s Didactic Educator of the Year Award in addition to a Distinguished Professorship at Our Lady of the Lake College. His research has focused on dilators that increase blood flow – specifically how hydrogen peroxide could couple myocardial oxygen consumption to coronary blood flow.

Lisa C. Anderson


University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, MN

Dr. Anderson is a professor of Integrative Biology and Physiology at the University of Minnesota in addition to being of the finest teachers of Nursing Anesthesia in the country. In 2012, she was named the Didactic Instructor of the Year Award by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA). Her students state that Dr. Anderson, “truly cares about her students and has a passion for physiology.”


When compiling this list of 20 outstanding professors of nurse anesthesia, we selected nursing professors who:

  1. Are actively teaching: All of these professors are actively teaching or mentoring students at an accredited college of nursing.
  2. Are published: Many of these professors have had research published in online or print professional journals.
  3. Provide thought leadership: Professors on this list have been chosen due to their leadership in the nurse anesthesia community.
  4. Are actively involved: Although not detailed in every professor description, most professors on this list are actively involved in education and learning through the likes of conferences, presentations, publications or organizational memberships.
Barry Franklin

Barry Franklin


Barry is the Editor in Chief of NPS, operated by educational web publisher Sechel Ventures, which he co-owns. When not managing content, Barry sits on the board of a K-8 school, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, children, and dogs.

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