Updated: Jan 20, 2021
Ann M. Culp, of Jenkins Township in Luzerne County, is president of the Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists (PANA), which represents more than 3,000 certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) and students across the commonwealth. She’s been on PANA’s board for six years --- serving two years as Trustee, two years as Secretary, and then a year as
President-elect before being named to her current post in the fall.
We took time to get to know Ann a little bit more. What we found is that she’s not just PANA’s president, she’s also one of the presidents of her family’s planned 105th reunion. She’s not just a practitioner, she’s a teacher. And when her third grandchild, William Christopher, was born, Ann was right there when it all happened. Find out why …
Q: Why did you choose to serve as a PANA trustee?
A: Being a CRNA for over 30 years, I believed it was time to give back to my profession. Therefore, I ran for Trustee.
Q: Where do you currently work?
A: The clinical position I hold is at the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital (WBGH), which is an affiliate of Commonwealth Health Systems.
Q: What do you do there?
A: Surgical procedures performed at WBGH include: orthopedics, vascular, and general and robotic procedures.
Q: From what institution did you receive your degree?
A: I’m a graduate of Wilkes-Barre General Hospital Anesthesia Program. My master’s degree and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) were earned at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
Q: Do you teach? If so, where do you teach?
A: I’m a didactic instructor at the University of Scranton’s Nurse Anesthesia Program. Courses include regional anesthesia, pain management, endocrine, obstetrics, the anesthesia machine and the basics of anesthesia.
Q: What made you want to become a CRNA?
A: I worked for two years prior to entering the nursing field. Within months of my graduation, I was fortunate to obtain a day shift positon in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton. I began considering anesthesia after meeting a CRNA who was performing a post-operative visit on a patient in ICU. After just a few minutes of conversing with him, his professionalism, dedication and contentment with his practice had me investigating this new avenue. Fortunately, there was an anesthesia program 15 minutes from my home. I was fortunate to be accepted into a class of four anesthesia students, and have been practicing ever since.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your career?
A: Since I have two jobs as a CRNA, I can divide this into two answers. First, the student: The new student entering the operating room is anxious and tense. Nurturing guidance fosters growth in the anesthesia student. Observing the student develop from novice to expert is a fulfilling experience. One of my proudest moments of my career was when my son Eric followed in my footsteps and became a CRNA. He currently is working at Regional Hospital, in Scranton, which is also an affiliate of Commonwealth Health Systems. Second, the patient: Each individual requiring anesthesia for a surgical procedure is scared, nervous and very alone. Therefore, I find comfort in calming their fears and the fears of their family by being caring, kind, and considerate to every member present. After showing them my name badge, I tell them to remember me as “Ann from Anesthesia.” This is the first ice breaker. I get a warm blanket for the patient to demonstrate empathy. Lastly, I tell them I will be with them throughout the procedure. The calm reassuring sound of your voice, a smile, and showing an interest in the patient is many times equal to two milligrams of Versed. The joy of waking up the patient and having them call out to you to find out how things went, is priceless.
Q: What do you do to relax when you are not taking care of others?
A: When I have free time, I like to spend it with my husband David, to whom I have been married for 33 years; my three children, Eric, Katie, Jeff; and my three grandchildren: Lindsay Ann, David James, and William Christopher. There have been three weddings in my family within the last three years and I’m proud to have Megan Watkins Culp, Shay Robinson, and Jennifer Miller Culp into the family. My granddaughter Lindsay is 4 years old and believes we are “twins.” Reading relaxes me --- I enjoy science fiction --- and I love the beach. I could sit watching the waves for hours. I am one of seven children, and we all remain close friends. During the summer, my parents invite their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren for breakfast each Sunday, all 50 of us. Also, being a good Irish family, on my mother’s side, I have over 500 relatives. This year will mark the 105th Clifford reunion. I am one of the reunion presidents!
Q: Tell us something no one knows about you.
A: I’m like an open book. However, I do have a story to tell: a few weeks ago my daughter-in-law Megan was in labor and fetal heart tones plummeted, so an emergency cesarean section was required. I quickly switched from Grandma mode to CRNA and prepared the anesthesia workstation in order to expedite the emergent surgery. Luckily, all went well and my third grandchild, William Christopher, was born healthy on Feb. 17, 2016. This was the scariest, yet most fulfilling moment of my career. No one can comprehend the importance of a quick, properly prepared anesthetic workstation until you are thinking your new grandchild, still unborn, may not survive the next few minutes. When I heard his cry, I followed right along and cried with him, very happy tears.