Students in the M.S. in Nurse Anesthesia program at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota had the unique opportunity to work with state-of-the-art fiber-optic bronchoscopy equipment.
The workshop was organized by St. Cloud Anesthesia Associates who coordinated with Olympus Corporation to provide the equipment, worth over $1 million. St. Cloud Hospital, St. Cloud Anesthesia Associates, and Olympus also provided instructors to man six stations, each showcasing different equipment for different types of patient populations.
Because patients do not breathe while they are under general anesthesia, nurse anesthetists have the critical job of making sure that the equipment is in place to be able to breathe for the patient while they are unconscious, according to M.S. in Nurse Anesthesia Program Director Merri Moody, APRN, CRNA, DNP. Nurse anesthetists stay with their patients for the entire procedure, ensuring maximum safety and comfort for patients.
Moody explains that in some cases, a patient’s anatomy may be different due to genetics, disease, or injury. In these cases, the typical way of placing the equipment used to manage the patient breathing may be very difficult. By using a fiberoptic bronchoscope the provider can see the internal structures through the small camera built in the fiberoptic bronchoscope. This makes placing the equipment safer and less traumatic to the patient.
A fiber-optic bronchoscope can be used to thread a tube into the patient’s airway and create a flow of oxygen. With assistance from Olympus, St. Cloud Hospital, and St. Cloud Anesthesia Associates staff, students were able to practice using these bronchoscopes on three types of training mannequins: adult, pediatric, and difficult airway.
“Participating in a lab like this would have cost each student $300 to $500 at a national or state meeting,” Moody said. “The opportunity for students to learn how to use the equipment from experts in the field was priceless.”
“I’m passionate about taking care of people,” said M.S. in Nurse Anesthesia student Jessica Ettl, SRNA. “As a nurse of nine years, I always felt like I was missing a portion of my patients’ care when they left to go to the operating room, and I wanted to provide that continuity by becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist.
“Dr. Eiler (St. Cloud Anesthesia Associates) took the time to go through various scenarios and show us different tools,” Ettl continued. “It’s not very often you can go to the hospital as a learner and use the equipment, so this was an invaluable experience.”