A Nurse Ahead of His Time

Arthur Botnik and the Class of 1961.

Arthur Botnik has always been something of a maverick. As the School of Nursing's first male student, he earned a B.S.N. from the University of Miami in 1961, then went on to earn a graduate degree in anesthesia from the University of Alabama. A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist for more than 30 years, he established one of the first anesthesia practices devoted to outpatient office surgery in 1977.Today he and his wife, Sybil, operate a medical supply company.

A native of Alliance, Ohio, Botnik first experienced nursing as an Air Force medic during the Korean War. "I was stationed near the DMZ and became a medic initially to avoid guard duty," admits Botnik. "At that time, medics operated with a tremendous degree of independence, and the doctors took great care in helping us to handle the challenges that came our way."

Returning stateside, Botnik looked into nursing programs with an eye toward becoming a nurse anesthetist. "I discovered my passion for nursing in the military," he says. "From the time I began my training, my goal was to go into anesthesia. It was the only place in nursing for us to achieve any independence of practice." Says Botnik,"Hardly a day went by that someone didn't try to discourage me, saying that C.R.N.A.s were doomed to extinction. Here we are 37 years later with a serious shortage and demand for nurse anesthetists."

Botnik recalls that it was difficult to be a man in the female-dominated nursing world. He says the University of Miami not only welcomed him, but encouraged him to continue his nursing education. "I will be eternally grateful to the University of Miami for giving me the opportunity to study nursing when a male nurse was viewed as a creature from another planet," says Botnik. "I am very proud of the progress and leadership of the school."