Employee Spotlight

June 5, 2024

Anesthesia is in this family’s blood: father, two children all working as nurse anesthetists at Vanderbilt

Brian Reid, CRNA, used to pack Chris and Mary’s lunches before school. Now they all work together in VUMC’s Department of Anesthesiology.

Brian Reid, CRNA, right, with his son, Chris Reid, CRNA, and daughter Mary Case, CRNA.

Their family routine has shifted from preparing school lunches and reviewing homework to preparing operating rooms and monitoring patients before, during and after surgery. Brian Reid, certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), and his two children, Chris Reid and Mary Case, both CRNAs, now work together in the Department of Anesthesiology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

On a typical day, the three arrive at the Vanderbilt Outpatient Surgery Center on the main campus. They greet their coworkers, begin to set up their respective operating rooms, and take time to visit before cases start.

“It’s a unique experience for me to be working with these two,” Brian said of his adult children. “I worked with Mary from time to time at her last job, prior to her coming to Vanderbilt. We would see each other in the hall in the morning, and then we probably wouldn’t see each other for the rest of the day.”

While the three are each doing anesthesia in different operating rooms, thanks to the technology at Vanderbilt, they can keep up with what one another is doing.

“With the electronic boards and technology, we can look and say, ‘OK, they’re getting out of their room, they’re probably going to the PACU.’ We know enough about what each other does…we can imagine how their day is going,” Chris said.

Main campus, Cool Springs, Franklin, Belle Meade — all the outpatient centers

Brian came to Vanderbilt in 2002. He worked in several departments, including multispecialty anesthesiology, cardiac and radiology. Around 2006, the Department of Anesthesiology added the Ambulatory Surgery Division.

“They’d never had one (Ambulatory Division) before. This was all new to the department. I was named the first lead CRNA of the Ambulatory Division in, I believe, 2006. I stayed there until 2016,” Brian said.

In addition to working on the main campus, he’s worked at most of the Vanderbilt outpatient centers including Vanderbilt Surgery Center Cool Springs, Vanderbilt Surgery Center Franklin and Vanderbilt Health Belle Meade.

Although Brian retired from  full-time employment in February 2018, he stayed on the staff as a part-time employee (PRN) to help in busy times or when extra staff is needed.

“It’s fun for me, it gives me something to do, gets me out of the house. I can’t play golf all the time,” he laughed. “The way I look at it is, they won’t call me unless they need me, which means they need me. They need some extra help, and so it’s my obligation, I think, to help out if I’m available.”

“Everything was always so interesting”

Chris and Mary have been exposed to the fields of anesthesia and surgery their whole lives. Their mother, Nita, was an operating room nurse for more than 30 years. When they were in their late teens, they came to Vanderbilt during the summer to work as anesthesia technicians.

“We had tackle boxes sitting around the house with anesthesia equipment in it,” Chris said. “So, there was always an interest in it for me.”

For as long as Mary can remember anesthesia is all she’s wanted to do. “Of course, I attribute that to my dad and going to work with him, hearing all of his stories. Everything was always so interesting,” she said.

In January she joined the team of CRNAs at Vanderbilt after working at a small community hospital for 17 years.

“Everybody here has just been absolutely wonderful. From the anesthesia department, to the attendings, to the CRNAs, to the surgeons, just everybody as a team has welcomed me with open arms.”

Mary Case

Chris enjoyed working two summers as a tech before attending nursing school. He came back to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt as a CRNA in 2006. He left in 2012 and then returned to the Anesthesiology Department as a CRNA in spring 2021.

“The culture that they have, it’s kind of like home for me. I’ve really spent probably half of my life, it feels like, here at Vanderbilt. It was the first place I decided to come back to when it was time to make another change,” Chris said.

“What would you do in this situation?”

While Brian and Chris have worked for Vanderbilt simultaneously in the past, they’ve never been in the same area. Because Mary was employed at another facility for 17 years so, “This is the first time, besides being in school together, that we’ve really even gotten to be with each other,” Chris said.

This is Brian’s 48th year of working as a nurse anesthetist and his last, come July, when he will retire for good.

“Coming to Vanderbilt was a totally different thing, and I’ve really enjoyed my time at Vanderbilt,” he said. “I’m sad to see it end at the end of July.”

Both Chris and Mary attribute much of their success in the field to their dad.

“He paved the way, if you think about it, for where we are. I can’t tell you how many conversations that we’ve asked, ‘What would you do in this situation? What would you do for this case?’” Chris said. “I do anesthesia a certain way because of things that he’s told me and taught me and ways that he’s done things. It’s just engrained in us.”