Ep 56: Courage to Lead: Looking Back at Dick Ouellette’s Time as AANA President

In the latest installment of our Courage to Lead series, we spend some time with Dick Ouellette, CRNA, MEd, who was a two-term president of the AANA. During his time serving in that capacity, Ouellette helped reinvigorate the profession by focusing on education standards and had a heavy involvement in direct reimbursement coming to pass.

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

On This Episode:

When you go back through the history of the AANA, you’ll find many people that have made a significant impact on the organization and the CRNA profession and one of those is Richard G. Ouellette, CRNA, MEd. Oullette served as president of the AANA for two separate terms in the 1980s and it came during a pivotal time.  

On this episode of Beyond the Mask podcast, we welcome Ouellette onto the show to take a look back at his career and his time as AANA president. During those two terms in 1985-86 and 1989-90, Ouellette had to focus on increasing the enrollment in nursing programs to keep the profession from dying out. This was a period of time where fewer and fewer people were choosing this career path and it left the future in doubt.

Then there’s the history of direct reimbursement and it’s passing by Congress in the mid-80s. Ouellette had a lot of involvement in that process and shares the significance of that during our conversation. He looks back on that era and also talks with us about how that progressed during his time at the AANA.

This really is a wonderful conversation about an important time in our history. The health of our industry is thanks in part to people like Dick Ouellette and that’s why we want to use this podcast to both celebrate his career and remember the hard work it’s taken by the great people that came before us.

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

[2:43] – Our special guest today is Dick Ouellette, CRNA   

[3:17] – Give us some highlights from your two terms as AANA President.

[4:46] – The second thing he was interested in at the time.

[6:19] – Where he was focused during the second term.

[7:18] – Why were joint committees so important to Dick at the time?

[10:39] – Direct reimbursement’s beginning and how it progressed during his term.

[16:42] – What’s the significance of direct reimbursement?

[19:18] – What would it look like today if direct reimbursement didn’t happen?

[23:48] – Education was a big concern for Dick. What was the response when he wanted to increase requirements?

[28:08] – Dick shares a great story about Sandy and education.  

[28:33] – Moving to 1990 and the commission that formed.

[33:06] – The thing that Dick feels we’re lacking the most today.

[36:39] – If Dick could pick one other profession, what would it be?


“By the summer of ’89, we were down to graduating less than 600 people from our programs and that’s when we needed to do something to bring us back because we were dying on the vine. Within a very short period of time, we would have been obsolete. That was one of the reasons that I was interested in coming forth for a second term and see if we could turn this around.”

-Dick Ouellette, Former AANA President

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