Nurse anesthesia professor shares expertise with national, international audiences

Mark Kossick (in white lab coat) instructs graduate student Bradley Strother in WCU’s anesthesia simulation lab.

Seminars and lectures presented by a professor in Western Carolina University’s School of Nursing are making a critical difference in the care of patients receiving anesthesia worldwide.

Mark A. Kossick, anesthesia simulation education coordinator at WCU’s Biltmore Park instructional site, shares valuable information on monitoring and interpreting electrocardiograms for patients at risk for cardiovascular disease. This helps to minimize risks for patients being cared for in many clinical settings, including in the operating room, while hospitalized in an intensive care unit, or admitted to an emergency department.

“EKG monitoring can impact what medications physicians and advanced practice nurses decide to give or not give in their respective practice areas,” Kossick said. “It can also help practitioners construct the most desirable treatment algorithms, including the need for specialty consultation with other health care providers. While I’m thankful for the many advancements of medical science, in the end, medical technology is only as good as the person using it.”

Kossick is preparing for an upcoming seminar this winter in San Antonio, Texas, to be followed by a series of lectures in Amsterdam next summer. In the past, he has lectured internationally in Austria, England, Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean. His eight-hour seminar can be presented solo or as presentations within a larger multiday medical conference, as requested by the host, or in the role of a visiting professor.

Mark Kossick

“It’s fascinating and exciting when I lecture and see an eclectic audience comprised of health care providers from many specialties. This would include anesthesiologists, hospitalists, intensivists, emergency department physicians, cardiologists, nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners and critical care nurses,” he said. “Attendees come from across the country and from other countries such as Spain, Germany, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia and other locales. I’ve been lecturing for almost 30 years now, traveling to 40 states and the District of Columbia. One of the most gratifying things to me is the opportunity to interact with health care providers on a national and international level. The feedback I receive during and after presentations contributes to my appreciation of how the didactic content influences a practitioner’s clinical practice, enhancing their ability to deliver quality health care.”

Kossick said his lecturing experience also contributes to his successful outcomes in teaching graduate anesthesia and family nurse practitioner students at WCU, both in the traditional classroom setting as well as in the anesthesia program’s High Fidelity Simulation Lab. Feedback from lecture attendees and the opportunity to share real-world challenges helps guide classroom instruction, he said.

Kossick has been on the faculty of WCU’s College of Health and Human Sciences since 2010 and is in the process of completing a third edition of a textbook and handbook on EKG interpretation. He continues to practice clinically as a certified registered nurse anesthetist and consults as an expert witness for medical legal cases that involve assessment of standards of care as it relates to EKG analysis. Kossick received his research doctorate in 2003 from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and completed his clinical research in the electrophysiology laboratory at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“I tell both my students and lecture attendees, with all the bedside monitors to evaluate and data to assess, communication with the patient is still vital,” Kossick said. “Each patient is a person, an individual with concerns. Listening to them is an important part of monitoring.”

The WCU Nurse Anesthesia Program is accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Education Programs. For more information, call 828-654-6499 or visit