Ep 78: Courage to Lead – Former AANA President Deb Geisler, CRNA

Our next guest in the Presidential Leadership Series is Deb Geisler, CRNA, who served as AANA President from 2001-02. Not only did she oversee some significant issues during her year in charge, but she’s also been a part of multiple committees through the years whose decisions have shaped direction of the profession.

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

On This Episode:

She might tell you it’s been a long time since serving as AANA president, but Deb Geisler, CRNA, continues to impact the profession through the decisions she helped make through years of service.

That’s why we wanted her to be the next guest in the Presidential Leadership Series. It’s an ongoing look at people that have been in leadership positions and used those roles to improve and advance CRNAs.

This week’s guest on Beyond the Mask served as AANA president from 2001-02, and time where many big decisions were either being considered or being made. Geisler also served on the board in multiple roles before and after this year, and the list of things she’s been involved in is pretty amazing.

Just look at these things that we talk about during this episode:

  • Supervision opt-out
  • Small states aid
  • Raised dues
  • Strategic reserve fund
  • Region realignment

The supervision ‘opt-out’ rule was signed into effect while she was the president. To understand why the rule was put in to place you need to understand the historical context to the time period and she’ll share that. You’ll also hear about some of the letters that were being written against nurse anesthetists as this debate was happening.

Geisler was also on the board with the AANA when the State Organizational Development Committee was created. They had to pass a three-year membership dues increase to fund this but it provided tremendous support to the states. At the time, there were questions over whether this would work but she felt confident in the plan and the results now back her up.

The other key issue, which is still discussed today, is region realignment. Geisler headed up the committee that did a study to determine whether electability was affected by the regional setup. It also surveyed members to find out what their expectations were and what they wanted. Find out how all of that went and why the five region concept was introduced.

This episode serves as a great history lesson and hopefully younger CRNAs will get a better understanding of how these topics all began.

We’ll find out much more about each of these issues from here experience and perspective during our conversation. Check it out at the top of the page and use the timestamps to help you navigate through the many topics we discussed.

2:37 – We’re still in quarantine and talking to Deb Geisler today.

3:15 – A former AANA president and a UNC graduate.

5:13 – Historical overview of the supervision battle with physicians.

8:53 – Here’s what the problem is with this supervision law.

11:53 – The letters that were being written to the legislature about nurse anesthetists.

12:22 – It’s a reimbursement issue. 

15:07 – How the SODC began.

20:43 – The other goal for the SODC and how it was funded.

22:27 – The states were given funds in the form of a loan

25:21 – Helping states that were in position to be attacked.

27:12 – How was the dues increase embraced at the time?

31:51 – Being part of that committee is something she’s eternally grateful for.

34:04 – Some history on how regions were formed.

37:17 – She chaired the committee in 2003 to look at regional re-allocation

38:24 – A statistical analysis was done to see if the structure of the regions had anything to do with electability.

39:05 – The committee devised a study and sent it out to members to determine a course of action.

41:49 – From that study, the committee came up with a five region concept.

44:35 – How did people react to the regional suggestion. 

46:16 – Sharon has always been a big fan of Deb.

47:33 – The most valuable leadership lessons that she’s learned through her career.


“To say we’re not competent, then how can you explain the majority of the anesthesia in not only the Bread Basket but the majority of the anesthesia in the country is delivered by nurse anesthetists?”

-Deb Geisler, CRNA

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