NBCRNA Names Dennis Spence, PhD, CRNA, Chief Research Officer

An experienced researcher, CRNA, and Navy veteran, Dr. Spence brings a unique background to the research initiative for NBCRNA’s credentialing work.

CHICAGO (August 17, 2020) — The National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Dennis Spence, PhD, CRNA, as its inaugural chief research officer (CRO). Dr. Spence will serve as a key executive responsible for leading and guiding the NBCRNA’s comprehensive strategic evaluation and research plan for the organization and its credentialing programs. 

In addition to his central competencies in leadership, management and research, Dr. Spence has extensive experience in scholarly project development, implementation, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and dissemination. 

In his new role, Dr. Spence will also oversee the Evaluation and Research Advisory Committee (ERAC) in research development and design and provide methodical and statistical leadership on the ongoing analysis and outcomes to help support the NBCRNA programs and strategic priorities. He will also provide leadership and research direction on evidence-based methods, innovative technologies, and novel approaches for the assessment and maintenance of CRNA knowledge and competence over time. 

“We welcome Dr. Spence to the NBCRNA and look forward to the addition of his tremendous talent and experience. His exemplary research experience and expertise will be critical to lead the evidence-based work on behalf of the CRNA credential,” said NBCRNA CEO Karen Plaus, PhD, CRNA, FAAN, CAE. “His combination of nurse anesthesia knowledge, research experience, and leadership skills will be key in advancing our research endeavors.

Dr. Spence retired from the U.S. Navy in August 2020 after 28 years, most recently serving as a Staff Nurse Anesthetist at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, mentoring and teaching clinical didactic anesthesia to nurse anesthesia students while also providing anesthesia to patients of all ages requiring surgery, sedation or labor analgesia. 

 “I am excited and truly honored to be part of an outstanding team of staff and volunteers at the NBCRNA,” said Dennis Spence, PhD, CRNA, “I am passionate about the mission of the NBCRNA – to promote patient safety through credentialing programs that support lifelong learning. As the Chief Research Officer I will provide the CRNA perspective and executive leadership needed to guide the Research Department and Evaluation and Research Advisory Committee in generating evidence and recommendations for our credentialing programs.”

Dr. Spence has held various committee positions with the NBCRNA, including as a Director on the NBCRNA Board of Directors from 2017-2020, and served on the Evaluation and Research Advisory Committee. In 2019, Dr. Spence was awarded the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) Foundation John F. Garde Researcher of the Year award for extensive scientific contributions to the nurse anesthesia profession, From 2012 to 2015, he served as the Regional Director of Nursing Research at NAVMEDWEST region where he was responsible for research proposals, grant applications and evidence-based projects, and further managed the the leadership, organization, and mentorship of nursing research and evidence-based practice for eight Naval Medical Treatment Facilities and their associate nursing staff. 

He received his PhD from Rush University Medical Center, a Master of Science from Georgetown University/Navy Nurse Corps Anesthesia Program, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. He serves as the Adjunct Associate Professor at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences (USUHS), GSN, Nurse Anesthesia Program and as an Adjunct Faculty at Texas Wesleyan University Doctorate of Nurse Anesthesia Practice Program.

# # #