Art Zwerling - In Memoriam
Arthur J. Zwerling, CRNA, MSN, MS, DNP, DAAPM
Art Zwerling Fund is an AANA Foundation endowed named fund in Art's memory, which means it's forever!
The Art Zwerling Memorial Fund is and open grant designated for research or education on wellness, pain management, or peer assistance/substance use disorder. For more info, see Open Submission Research Grant Applications.
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On July 25, 2014, the world of nurse anesthesia lost one of its most vigorous supporters, and the AANA movement to address chemical dependency proactively lost one of its staunchest advocates, with the passing of Arthur Zwerling, CRNA, MSN, MS, DNP, DAAPM.
Zwerling’s early and unexpected death has created an enormous outpouring of tributes throughout the nationwide nurse anesthesia community, especially from those in the recovery community for whom he was a hero.
He was always there when needed, as Sarah Ruth Gomes, daughter of deceased AANA Past President Jan Stewart, CRNA, ARNP, said, “I was one of the countless beneficiaries of Art's knowledge, passion, and care. He was by me in the hardest times, and his mark is carried in my heart.” (See Jan Stewart Memorial Wellness Lecture Series)
Zwerling’s passion and enthusiasm for helping others was inspirational. He became ardently involved with the wellness and peer assistance efforts, serving 16 years on the AANA Peer Assistance Advisors Committee from 1998 to present, four years as chair. He was also a consultant on peer assistance to the Council for Public Interest in Anesthesia and a member of the AANA Wellness Committee. He generously counseled innumerable colleagues and students who called the Peer Assistance Helpline (800-654-5167). A calculation of his volunteer peer assistance hours exceeded 1,400 in 2009. Many lives were positively impacted by Art, many of whom never met him in person; he was the voice on the phone that calmly and knowledgeably responded to CRNAs, SRNAs, family members and supervisors in difficult and often crisis chemical dependency situations, and he saved the lives of many. (photo below, Peer Assistance Advisors Committee 2012).
Before becoming a CRNA, Zwerling’s early work as a certified addictions counselor helped prepare him for peer assistance work. But, it was his personal knowledge of addiction and recovery and open-hearted spirit of sharing that made the difference to the lives he touched. Among those are the nearly 400 members of Anesthetists in Recovery (AIR), the online support community, that he founded/moderated and where he lent untold support to CRNAs and student registered nurse anesthetists (SRNAs).
An Inspiring Educator
Zwerling played an invaluable role in advancing wellness/chemical dependency education to CRNAs and SRNAs. He was instrumental in the production of the Wearing Masks videos and his tenacity and ability to inspire others resulted in the recent requirement added to the Council of Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs standards. Zwerling’s compendium of lectures also provided a framework in the development of the AANALearn modules.
Zwerling will also be remembered for his contributions to education across the spectrum of nurse anesthesia practice in addition to addiction recovery. During his teaching career he was a program director, clinical and didactic faculty member, and adjunct faculty course director on advanced pain management modalities. An expert on a multitude of topics, he was a popular speaker at nurse anesthesia state association meetings. According to Diana Quinlan, CRNA, MS, past chair of AANA Peer Assistance, “Art gave of himself tirelessly to educate, comfort and support so many in nursing, anesthesia and the recovery community. His lectures were informative and colorful; some were even quite memorable, like when he intubated himself with fiberoptic video before a live audience!”
Zwerling was passionately involved with the Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists (PANA). Maria Magro van Pelt, CRNA, MS, MSN, summarized, “A man of great character will do something that is not popular, because it is the right thing to do. He will be the one to "get things done" when everything looks bad. He will be the first to help, and the last to complain. He will not care if he stands out in a crowd, and when he does, he will stand out by his actions.”
Zwerling’s stewardship extended globally through his work with Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO), on the Steering Committee and teaching in Belize, Eritrea, and Cameroon. Of this work Suzanne Brown, CRNA, past Steering Committee chair, reports, “He will be missed, but more importantly he will be remembered in his students’ anesthetics. He had the ability to frame complex material so students were able to learn and remember. Art made such an impression with his passion for anesthesia that when I returned to Belize, 12 years later, I was asked about Art. ”
Most recently, Zwerling served as staff CRNA at Fox Chase Cancer Center. As a clinician, he represented the ideal of CRNA practice, tirelessly providing expert, comprehensive, compassionate care. For more about his career, volunteer works, and awards, see his online obituary and his “Why I Became a CRNA” column.
His Life’s Work Will Live On
For those lucky enough to have known Art, whether as a friend, family member or loved one, colleague or student, or fellow CRNA/SRNA in recovery, he will be sorely missed. Yet for all in the anesthesia profession, he has left a significant, inspirational mark in pain management practice, education, and awareness of the road to recovery for those challenged by chemical dependency. AANA Past President Terry Wicks, CRNA, MS, paid tribute: "During his life, he was a beacon of hope whose light shone through the darkness that had blanketed so many for so long. Despite his passing, his spirit and his life's work will live on, through the frameworks of understanding he created, the knowledge and the love that he shared, and the countless lives that he saved."
PDF of September 2014 AANA NewsBulletin Article: In Memoriam: Arthur J. Zwerling 1952-2014