Ep 99: Courage to Lead – 2011-12 AANA President Debra Malina, CRNA, MBA, DNSc

Nearly 10 years ago, the NBCRNA introduced the Continued Professional Certification program much to the surprise of many people in the profession. That announcement came just a few days before former AANA president Debra Malina, CRNA, MBA, DNSc, took office, and it led to many difficult discussions and decisions. Join us as we take you back to 2011-12 and into those meetings, and then find out what Malina remembers most about her time leading the organization.

Click the timestamps below to help you navigate through the many topics we discussed.

On This Episode:

The AANA will celebrate 90 years as an organization in 2021, but the future of the group wasn’t as certain just 10 years ago. There was concern over membership and revenue following the introduction of the Continued Professional Certification program by the NBCRNA.

This was the immediate challenge facing former AANA president Debra Malina, CRNA, MBA, DNSc, when she took office in 2011. As you can imagine, the goals and objectives she wanted to achieve shifted with this news.

On this episode of the Beyond the Mask podcast, we add another chapter to our Courage to Lead Series with a conversation featuring Malina and her experiences as the AANA president in 2011-12.

The relationship between Sharon and Deb goes back to their days as state presidents. Sharon was the state president in North Carolina while Deb was the state president in Tennessee, and later Sharon was on the board of directors during her AANA presidency. So they share many of the same experiences.

Our conversation will touch on different aspects of her term in office but we begin with that tumultuous start. Just a few days before she took office, the NBCRNA unveiled the CPC program. Much of her year was spent answering questions and addressing concerns regarding the CPC program. Beyond that, however, there were serious concerns about the future of the AANA, which Malina will describe in detail on the show.

As they were determining the future of CE, the AANA surveyed its members. They received more than 7,000 surveys back that consisted of nearly 200 pages in comments and an additional 1,200 emails. These responses were taken to the NBCRNA to negotiate but during that time, the AANA also had to look at what it would take to set up a different entity for re-certification.

Like we say on the show, many ’adult conversations’ were had during that time, which is a part of the job.

Malina dealt with much more beyond the CPC and we’ll go through those things on the show. But with her business acumen and background, this truly was another example of having the right person in the position at the right time.

Here are some of the other topics we will cover on the show:

  • 50 state service strategy
  • The continuing certification program introduced and caused many problems.
  • Exploring ways to cut expenses in case revenue dropped.
  • Defined Benefit Plan for employees
  • Changes to the Council of Accreditation
  • Regional reimbursement pilot project
  • The battle to remove supervision

Check it out the interview at the top of the page and use the timestamps to help you navigate through the many topics we discussed.

[3:00] – Introducing our special guest today

[4:57] – Her history in nursing

[6:14] – The challenges of her presidency started with NBCRNA and CPC

[15:09] – Fallout from the CPC program

[16:34] – Another thing they looked at was cutting expenses

[21:18] – Helping fund Council on Accreditation

[24:53] – Reimbursement advocacy

[26:58] – Article written an anesthesiologist in March 2012

[31:02] – What happened with removing supervision during her term.

[32:42] – Supervision win for Air Force

[36:33] – Most important leadership lessons learned

[38:53] – Her final message for younger CRNAs


“If you go into a leadership position with the mindset that you want to please everybody, you can’t. If you are going to make a difference, if you are going to move an organization ahead strategically, you’re always going to aggravate somebody.”

-Former AANA president Debra Malina, CRNA, MBA, DNSc

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