Ep 127: A CRNA’s Experience Being Deployed to Afghanistan

Most people buy an expensive car or go on an outlandish spending spree when they’re in their late-40s, but Michael Rieker, CRNA, DNP, FAAN, isn’t like most people. Instead of doing any of those other things, he used his talent and skills in nurse anesthesia to join the Army Reserve, which led to him serving in Afghanistan. Today he’ll tell us about that experience and how it’s helped him in his current role at Wake Forest University.

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

On This Episode:

For most people, the decision to serve their country comes at young age, but for Michael Rieker, CRNA, DNP, FAAN, the decision came in his late-40s.

Rieker is the Chair of Academic Nursing at Wake Forest School of Medicine and felt the calling to serve his country so he signed up for the Army Reserve. That decision recently resulted in a deployment to Afghanistan to serve as part of a Golden Hour Offset Surgical Team (GHOST) and provide medical support for troops.

On today’s episode, we’ll talk with Rieker about his experience overseas and find out what those days were like. And how do you return to the calm of the classroom after having that experience of being involved in a military operation? This should be a really interesting conversation for any CRNA and we hope you enjoy.

We also want to thank Rieker again for his time and his service.

So as you get started on the episode, keep an ear out for these topics:

  • How he got into the Army Reserves
  • The Army moving to modular units to provide medical care.
  • The training they provided the local Afghan medical staff
  • What his role was in Afghanistan
  • A first-hand account of the current state of operations in Afghanistan
  • What would his typical day look like?
  • How difficult was that transition back to the classroom after returning?
  • The top things he’s learned from this experience
  • What advice he’d give younger CRNAs that are considering a similar path.

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.

2:14 – Welcome in our guest

3:58 – Deployment to Afghanistan

8:11 – How busy was he

11:27 – Providing anesthesia to civilians  

12:48 – Conditions overseas right now  

14:47 – What a typical day looked like  

17:06 – Transitioning back to real life  

20:20 – Very limited connectivity on deployment

21:02 – School while he was away

22:52 – Top things he learned

25:29 – Benefits of the military

26:41 – Final thoughts


“I was in my late-40s by the time I signed up and to my surprise, a lot of the folks I worked with over there were similar in age. So it’s never too late if it’s something you have in your heart to do.”

-Michael Rieker, CRNA, DNP, FAAN

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