A Momentous Victory

A team of students from the School of Nursing and Health Studies’ Nurse Anesthesia Program participate in the AANA College Bowl and steal the spotlight.


T hey arrived by the thousands to witness six teams of anesthesia students from universities around the country— including one from the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies— square off against each other in an event some might describe as part quiz show and part pep rally.

Yet after several, nerve-racking rounds of questions, which led up to the final match of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) College Bowl, a knowledge-based competition of nurse anesthesiology students nationwide, only one winning team was left standing.

“We won in dramatic fashion,” recalls junior Craig Luehrs, S.R.N.A, B.S.N., the student representative for the School of Nursing and Health Studies team. “We were falling behind six to two, and we had to answer the remaining five questions correctly to pull a victory. With each question, the crowd grew louder and louder, and then we realized we might pull this off. We ended up doing just that and winning the competition!”

The prestigious competition was held at the Annual Meeting of the AANA in San Diego last August.

On stage, were a moderator and panel of judges who grilled the various student teams with complex anesthesia questions. For a fitting finale, the remaining team from the School of Nursing and Health Studies faced off against a team of nurse anesthesia professionals.

“Not only did they successfully eliminate all of their peer competition, but they won the final round of competition against practicing CRNAs,” says Valerie M. Bell, M.S.N., M.A.C.P., C.R.N.A., associate program director- Nurse Anesthesia Program and simulation coordinator at the school. “This is quite a momentous occasion, and again demonstrates the quality of the Nurse Anesthesia Program here at UM.”

Rossana Bizzio, M.P.H., R.N., director of the Nurse Anesthesia Program, was present at the competition and remembers rooting enthusiastically for her team.

“I was jumping up and down since I was so excited and impressed by the participation of our 11 nurse anesthesia students, including Craig, who was representing the team,” she says.

What made the moment even more impressive, notes Bizzio, was the fact that Luehrs, a junior, is only in the early stages of the program.

“He took leadership for the team in answering many of the questions, which I thought was also very remarkable,” Bizzio says.

“I was up there representing our school but at the same time, any one of my colleagues could have been up there answering those questions,” adds Luehrs. “It was just an awesome bonding experience and great for building school pride.”