Nancy Boyajian, CRNA (retired)
Written by :
by Elizabeth Wong, CRNA, MSN
Nancy Boyajian started her career in healthcare in 1957 after graduating from a hospital-based nursing program that was located in Detroit, Michigan. She then spent the next year working in the operating room at a community hospital in Lincoln Park Michigan. She decided to enter the Grace Hospital School of Anesthesia in September 1958 She decided to enter the nurse anesthesia program for the following reasons: more challenging, higher salary, her sister was a CRNA and was also a great influence in her decision to enter Grace Hospital School of Anesthesia. The nurse anesthesia certificate program prepared her to provide anesthesia using the drop-ether technique, cyclopropane, halothane which came out during the last few months of anesthesia training. Bruce Robertson was her classmate.
During her early years of training, surgeries such as tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy were performed without a laryngeal mask airway or an endotracheal tube. Excellent airway skills using drop ether mask followed with an 'ether hook' in the side of the mouth when she felt the patient was deep enough. An oscilloscope was used only on the “tough patients” meaning the patients that were fragile or unstable. One important aspect in the provision of anesthesia was the ability to skillfully manipulate and safeguard the airway - and it still is important to this day. Another important aspect in the provision of anesthesia was to “always touch the patient as well as use a stethoscope on the chest (esophageal stethoscopes came out much later in her career. Being connected to the patient by stethoscope and touch as well as watching a good portion of the surgery helped the nurse anesthetist to continuously assess the patient. You had to know what the doctor was doing and at what point in the operation he/she was because the anesthesia agents were longer lasting than the drugs used presently.
Nancy worked in the Detroit area for 22 years before moving to California in 1982. She spent the first year helping her family become acclimated to the Golden State. Her first position was as a staff certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) at Kaiser Sunset before she transferred to Kaiser Bellflower. Being from a family with a long history of labor union representation in the Detroit area auto industry, Nancy became the facility KPNAA representative for grievances as well as eventually becoming the negotiator for Bellflower Medical Center Nurse Anesthetists in 1989. The Kaiser Permanente Nurse Anesthetist Association (KPNAA) labor union was first started in 1979.
Nancy retired from Kaiser Bellflower in 1997, but did not retire from service to Kaiser nurse anesthetists. She continued to participate in KPNAA until 2006. She now volunteers at a church pantry one day a week and enjoys the retirement life that a career in anesthesia provided for her.