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WCU Stories

Care, concern shown from WCU Nurse Anesthesia graduate

Ann Crosby


Ann Crosby, a certified registered nurse anesthetist with Physicians Specialists in Anesthesia at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta, found inspiration for her career during a difficult time for her and her family, and Western Carolina University helped provide the means for her goals.

The dedicated professional and young mother earned her master’s degree in nurse anesthesia from WCU in May 2020, before the curriculum transitioned into the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program in Nurse Anesthesia.

“My father was diagnosed with stage four cancer and I took care of him in his final days,” Crosby said. “It was one of the most difficult things to do. I realized being a nurse and taking care of someone, anyone, at the most crucial of times during illness or surgery is also when they are most vulnerable. I thought if I can do this for dad, I can do this for others and help patients and their families, which led me to Western and the nurse anesthesia program.”

Ann Crosby


Crosby had prior nursing experience in Charlotte, working in an intensive care unit. As an African American, she is in a medical field that is seeking more qualified professionals who are people of color.

“We need more diversity, specifically in nurse anesthetists,” said Ian Hewer, director of the nurse anesthesia program in WCU’s School of Nursing. “As part of that effort, I have been talking to various people, including alumni, marketing, student services and our diversity office to create a strategy. Part of that is reaching out to regions with a higher minority population, such as Atlanta, where Ann is currently employed.”

Nurse anesthesiology is considered a long-term career. As advanced-practice nurses, these men and women will provide more than 40 million anesthetics for surgical, obstetrical and trauma care each year in the United States. WCU is taking broad steps to increase diversity in program enrollment, Hewer said.

The School of Nursing offers nationally ranked, accredited, highly affordable undergraduate and graduate programs at the main campus, through the Biltmore Park instructional site in Asheville and online.

Students have access to state-of-the-art classroom and lab space, as well as opportunities for hands-on experience through on- and off-site clinical partnerships and service-learning programs. For more information, contact Hewer at 828-654-6508.

About the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program, Nurse Anesthesia

Program Overview

Location: Biltmore Park - Asheville

Time to Complete: 36-months

Small class size, student/faculty ratio

Diverse clinical experience

100% pass rate for national cert.

Learn More About the Program

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