Ron was born in South Bend, Indiana in September 1942. Shortly after that his family moved to Rockford, Illinois, where his father was an insurance executive and his mother was a housewife. The family moved to Minneapolis in 1946, where he grew up and was educated.
After high school, Ron attended the University of Minnesota and pursued a course of study in mathematics, hoping to work for the government in the fledgling space program. While at the university, he worked part time as an orderly at one of the large Minneapolis city hospitals and loved it. He was especially fond of the times he was called to work in the operating room because he was right where the action was at the head of the table with the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), watching them make decisions about the patient’s status during surgery and giving the drugs that kept them safe and asleep. The hospital had a nurse anesthesia program, and in talking to the CRNAs and students about their experiences, he was convinced that he needed to change his career plans and get into that field right away.
In June 1966, after three years of mathematic studies, Ron left the university and entered the three year Registered Nursing diploma program at Abbott Hospital in Minneapolis. He was the only male student in the class. He graduated in June 1969, and three months later passed his nursing boards to become a Registered Nurse. In November 1969 he was accepted into the nurse anesthesia program at the Minneapolis School of Anesthesia.
The anesthesia program at the Minneapolis School was eighteen months of morning clinicals, rotating to five large metropolitan hospitals, and three days a week of afternoon classes. The class handled cases by themselves and took emergency calls with a CRNA for backup. The anesthesia departments at those hospitals all had different approaches and equipment to accomplish the same thing, which allowed Ron to see and employ many different techniques in administering anesthesia. That experience served him well in the years that followed when he was alone doing emergency cases in the middle of the night.
After graduation, he moved to Bemidji, Minnesota in 1971. He went into practice with one other CRNA and worked in a one hundred bed hospital doing all the anesthesia for scheduled and emergency call cases. Eventually they hired a full time and two part time CRNAs to split up the case load and calls. Ron stayed there for sixteen years, then moved to the Tampa Bay area of Florida in 1987 with his wife Lonni, where he finished his career in a large, mixed group of anesthesiologists and CRNAs. He enjoyed a long, eventful career in the OR before he retired in 2018 at age 76.
Sadly, Ron passed away in May 2021. He is greatly missed by everyone who knew him. This book is his legacy. He was very proud and happy to have published it and reached thousands of readers with his entertaining, informative stories about his 50 years in the OR.
Praise for 50 Years in the OR
“Ron Whitchurch has the observation, wit and insight of a modern day Mark Twain and the eyebrows and mustache to match.”
— Koco Eaton, MD, ABOS, Team Physician, Tampa Bay Rays
“An extraordinary book which brilliantly and compellingly conveys the day-to-day workings of the operating room. What is amazing is how one person could have seen and experienced so much. The chapters are interesting, insightful, hilarious, sometimes sardonic yet compassionate.”
— Kevin M Sweeney, MD, board-certified neurosurgeon, former chief of Neurosurgery of Mease hospitals in Dunedin and Clearwater, Florida
“I loved reading this wonderful collection of triumphs, tragedies, near misses, and so many funny situations in the OR. Ron is a keen observer of the quirks and ironies of life in surgery and a colorful storyteller. A fascinating glimpse at the world on the other side of the drapes.”
— Antonio J Gayoso, MD, ASPS, ASAPS