In Memoriam: Thomas Healey

Thomas G. Healey, CRNA, MA

Thomas G Healey, RN, CRNA, MA, age 68, of Scottsdale, Ariz., passed away on Thursday, December 5. Preceded in death by his parents and a brother, and survived by partner Robert Hovey, 7 sisters, and 22 nieces and nephews. A celebration of his life was held on December 8 in Arizona.
For 38 years, Tom was an active member of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), the professional association representing more than 47,000 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and student registered nurse anesthetists nationwide. Tom’s expertise in the areas of nurse anesthesia education, practice, and policy development made him a much sought after choice for AANA committees as well as other professional nursing organizations. He gave his full effort to every project and professional association. His commitment to participate in professional activities and go the extra mile to finish multiple projects successfully was Tom’s hallmark.
He served as senior corpsman of the Anesthesia Department at the Naval Support Activity Hospital, Da Nang, Viet Nam, and was awarded the Naval Commendation Medal for his work. Tom received his nursing education at St. Mary’s Junior College, Minneapolis, Minn. Tom began his anesthesia career upon graduation from St. Mary’s Hospital School of Nurse Anesthesia, Minneapolis, in 1974.
He was chief nurse anesthetist and director of the Nurse Anesthesia School at St. Mary’s Hospital until the school closed in 1984. During this time he completed requirements for his Bachelor’s degree in Education at Metropolitan State University, St. Paul in 1980 and subsequently the requirements for a Master of Arts Education degree in 1984 at the University of Saint Thomas, also in Saint Paul.
For more than 20 years, Tom was director of Anesthesia Services as Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, and assistant professor and co-program director of the Nurse Anesthesia Program, Saint Mary’s University Program Minnesota. He eventually became clinical director of the Saint Mary’s University Program of Nurse Anesthesia. He retired and moved to Scottsdale, Ariz. in 2010.
Tom was currently a consultant, specializing in education and regulation of advanced practice nursing practice. He was also an adjunct instructor at the Midwestern University Nurse Anesthesia Program, Glendale, Ariz.
Tom was active in his state association, serving as President of the Minnesota Association of Nurse Anesthetists (1982) as well as a member and chair of multiple state committees. In 1987, the Minnesota Association of Nurse Anesthetists (MANA) formed the MANA Assembly of Past Presidents. Until the group disbanded in 2009, Tom was an active member.
From 1985-1987, he served on the AANA Board of Directors as Director, Region 4. In 1988, he was elected AANA Vice President.
Tom served on the Council on Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists as a member and chair for six years. The Council on Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists, an independent body within the AANA, was responsible for the re-credentialing activities of all the CRNAs nationwide as well as the U.S. territories.
He also served as a member and chair of the AANA Continuing Education Committee for three years. The Continuing Education Committee determined the criteria for recertification and refresher courses for all CRNAs.
Tom was extensively involved and an integral member of the Council on Certification of Nurse Anesthetists, also an independent body within the AANA, during a significant time in nurse anesthesia history. The Council on Certification’s main responsibility is the initial credentialing of all graduates from more than 100 accredited nurse anesthesia programs in the United States. The Council granted the CRNA credential. In 1996, the Council on Certification was the first advanced practice nursing specialty to implement a transition from paper and pencil testing of their National Certification Examination to a Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT) format for the Examination. Since 1945, the method of test administration had been paper and pencil so this was an extremely important milestone for nurse anesthesia practice. Tom was chair of the Council and oversaw the smooth transition to CAT and implementation of workshops explaining the new test format.
In addition, the Council on Certification registers all student nurse anesthetists as they were enrolled in their respective programs. To assist the students in preparing for the National Certification Examination, the Council developed a Self-Evaluation Examination (SEE) that was introduced in 1991. This test initially was administered by paper and pencil. In 1996, the SEE was successfully transitioned to a computer adaptive format with Tom’s expertise from having been an integral part of the Examination Committee.
In 2008, the Council on Certification and the Council on Recertification joined forces to form a new credentialing entity, the National Board of Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA). Tom was the Practitioner Member on the new Board for three years prior to his retirement.
He also served as a member and officer for the American Board of Nursing Specialties, and the Association of Perioperative Nurses, lending his expertise of testing and leadership to these professional nursing organizations.
Tom was the author of numerous professional articles involving testing, practice, and management which appeared in both the AANA Journal and AANA NewsBulletin. He also served on the AANA Journal Review Committee.
In remembrance of Tom, a contribution may be made to the AANA Foundation at 222 S. Prospect Avenue, Park Ridge, IL, 60068.  Please make sure your donation designates “In Memory of Tom Healey for his outstanding contributions to nurse anesthesia.”