Ep 143: A Complete Look Into the AANA Doctoral Task Force with Sandy Ouellette, CRNA

Back in 2006, the AANA Board of Directors appointed a Doctoral Task Force to explore the future direction in nurse anesthesia education. Sandy Ouellette was chosen to co-chair the task force and help lead those discussions that would shape the future for CRNAs. Today she joins us to provide an inside look at how it was composed, the original purpose and process, and all of the options were on the table.

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

On This Episode:

A major goal for the AANA since its inception has been to advance quality education as a means to ensure CRNAs are best prepared when they enter the field. Many of the leaders that came before us made this a priority and spent countless time working to get this right.

Sandy and her fishing team’s big catch

Part of that process recently has included the Doctoral Task Force, which was organized more than 15 years ago to help set the standards for education. Our good friend Sandy Ouellette, CRNA, was appointed to be a co-chair and spearhead the efforts. Being in that position, she can uniquely share her insight about the entire process and how all of the discussions around the different options all unfolded.

Very few people know the history of the AANA like Sandy does so it’s always a treat to hear her stories and learn the major milestones that brought us to where we are today. This episode will serve as another installment of her historical contributions to the CRNA community and we hope you enjoy.   

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

  • The history of the AANA that led to the task force
  • The evolution of educational standards for CRNAs
  • American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) adopted a position statement in 2004
  • How the Doctoral Task Force was created in 2005/06
  • The first steps for the Task Force, which included developing a position statement
  • Everyone that was pointed to the Task Force at the start
  • What they were tasked with over the first couple of years and the options they came up with
  • The thought process behind the options they were discussing early on.
  • Detailed discussion on all the options

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.

2:07 – Welcome back Sandy  

4:37 – Events that led to the task force

6:59 – Move to university-based graduate programs

9:00 – What happened in 2004  

11:56 – Summit meeting in 2005 to create the Task Force

13:27 – Start of the Task Force

16:33 – Who was appointed to the Task Force?  

20:06 – Responsibilities given to the task force

21:49 –  The options they had to decide on

23:59 – Board adopts a position

25:51 – Thoughts behind the options the discussing

32:17 – Option 2 discussed  

35:58 – Option 3

38:30 – Option 4  

43:36 – Cautionary tales she would share with other directors

49:39 – Lightning Round


“There was always concern of dilution of the curriculum and the content. I’ve always said we can prepare people at a PhD level, but if they don’t know how to maintain an airway, they’re not going to be employed past 8 o’clock on Monday morning. Bottomline.”

-Sandy Ouellette, CRNA







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J. Cross CRNA
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This podcast is very well put together. I love the hosts Sharon & Jeremy, they do a fantastic job at presenting topics as well as getting great speakers on the show! This is my morning commute podcast everyday! Thank you for all that you do!
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I enjoy listening every morning. Great content and always a pleasure to learn something new.
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I started listening to this podcast religiously early on in my CRNA journey, a year before applying to CRNA school. The content in this podcast was one of my most helpful resources for getting into my first choice school, Wake Forest! It has also been a huge motivator for getting involved with the AANA now and throughout my career. I highly recommend this podcast to every prospective CRNA I meet.
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I appreciate hearing the latest and greatest in the world of Nurse Anesthesiology while also getting Class B credits. Just listen on your commute for a win/win experience. I love the perspectives from Jeremy and Sharon who both ask varied and insightful questions!
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If you’re a CRNA or any medical professional, I highly recommend giving this podcast a listen. Hosts have a great rapport.