Why I Became a CRNA

LaRayne Lunz Oltz, CRNA

  • Jan 21, 2013

LaRayne Lunz Oltz, CRNA
1996 Clinical Practitioner of the Year Award
2012 Ira Gunn Award
CRNA since 1969

LaRayne Lunz OltzMy educational goals after high school were to become a registered nurse, followed by continuing education and potentially medical school.  In the second week of my diploma nursing program, I sat with fellow students in the gallery of a Mayo Clinic surgical amphitheater observing open-heart surgery. As a 17 year old, I was completely awed by watching a surgical team perform an operation.
While my attention was initially focused on the surgeon, my interest soon shifted to the vivacious “doc” at the head of the table, who was monitoring and taking care of the patient. While busily engaged in numerous ongoing activities he was listening through a custom earpiece. In my naïveté, I thought he was listening to a transistor radio! Nonetheless, I was not only impressed by the importance of what he was doing, but his mannerism and interaction with the surgeon and others indicated he was having a good time!
Later, I asked my nursing instructor what type of doctor was at the head of the table. She replied with some disdain, “that was not a doctor, that was a nurse anesthetist!” Bingo! I knew my future. Student nurses could be paid for working extra hours in the hospital and I immediately changed my work location to the operating rooms. The day after I graduated from nursing, I started at the Mayo Clinic School of Nurse Anesthesia.
As a student nurse anesthetist, I attended my first American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) Annual Meeting. I was drawn to nurse anesthesia because I saw a CRNA practicing anesthesia. My practice of nurse anesthesia and what I did as a CRNA was influenced both by my professional organization and the CRNA mentors I met through my professional association.
In my 43 years as a CRNA, I have practiced in academic settings, as a sole provider in rural hospitals, worked locum tenens, and am now entering office-based anesthesia. While there have been ongoing changes in technology, anesthesia techniques, practice modes, and ever increasing CRNA scope of practice, my enthusiasm about the practice of anesthesia has remained constant. Being a CRNA gives me the personal relationship with patients that first attracted me into nursing, plus advanced education and the autonomy of practice of nurse anesthesia.
My CRNA spouse and I both have been involved in the “business side” of anesthesia as independent contractors.  We have traveled in and outside of the country as on-site representatives for a highly successful, CRNA established, anesthesia continuing education seminar organization, and had long term involvement in consulting in medical-legal and risk management cases. I was fortunate to select an outstanding profession,  share that profession with my spouse, and enjoy both for so many years.