Students win statewide competition

Members of WCU’s anesthesia bowl team celebrate their victory over other nurse anesthesia programs in the state. This is the third time the WCU team has won the competition since 2007.

Four graduate students from Western Carolina University’s nurse anesthesia program recently won the North Carolina Association of Nurse Anesthetists’ college anesthesia bowl.

Team members answered questions pertaining to the nurse anesthetist profession in a “Jeopardy style” competition held at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville during the NCANA’s annual meeting. The WCU team was able to defeat teams from Duke, Wake Forest, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Raleigh School of Nurse Anesthesia and East Carolina University to take home the trophy. This win marks the third time WCU has won the competition since first entering in 2007, said Jessica Shirley, director of student services at WCU’s School of Nursing.

The questions required knowledge that team members have acquired during their studies in the 28-month program, said Mason McDowell, assistant director of the WCU nurse anesthesia program. Leah Dickerson, a nurse anesthesia student from Chicago and a member of the WCU team, received this question during the competition: “During one-lung anesthesia, a vasodilator (nitroglycerin) is given and oxygen saturation decreases to 74 percent. Why?” The team divided subjects in order to have team members with specific areas of expertise, McDowell said.

Dickerson’s teammates were Katrina McDonald of Wausau, Wis.; Jed Godfrey of Asheville; Holly Braswell of Fletcher; and alternate Bryan Haslam, also of Asheville.

The nurse anesthesia program is an accredited graduate program in the School of Nursing at WCU. The program awards a master’s of science degree in nursing and prepares students for the national certification examination. It integrates research, physiology, pharmacology, pathophysiology and anesthesia principles. The program’s first class graduated in 2009.

For more information about the Nurse Anesthesia Program, contact McDowell at or call 828-670-8810, Ext. 222.