CRNA Scot Brown has worked to increase the number of nerve blocks offered at Socorro General Hospital, in an effort to reduce the need for opioids.
Cathy Cook| El Defensor Chieftain


If you visit Socorro General Hospital to deliver a baby, have a colonoscopy or undergo a surgical procedure, odds are good you’ll meet Scot Brown. Brown is the hospital’s only full-time CRNA, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.

CRNAs do the full scope of anesthesia in New Mexico, so Brown does general anesthesia, sedations, epidurals for labor and delivery and regional anesthetics like nerve blocks. Brown was recognized in 2021 for “Excellence in Rural Anesthesia Healthcare” by the New Mexico Association of Nurse Anesthetists.

When he’s not at the hospital, Brown is at his parent’s ranch working cattle.

“I love cattle. I think I have more pictures of cattle on my phone than I do of people.”

Brown was born and raised on a cattle ranch, first in Arizona, then near San Antonio, New Mexico. Brown was trying to get into medical school when he got bucked off a horse. He had three craniotomies. Being flown out of Ruidoso to Albuquerque for the first surgery inspired him to go to nursing school to become a flight nurse. He worked as a nurse for 13 years before going to anesthesia school to become a CRNA.

“I remember the moment that I decided that I would rather be dealing with an airway situation in a controlled situation,” he said.

Brown was on a New Mexico highway in the middle of summer treating a young motorcyclist who had been hit by a drunk driver—an incident that was covered in the news at the time.

“We actually intubated this kid and stabilized him and took him to trauma on the highway in the middle of summer, and he ended up dying and becoming an organ donor. But putting an airway in that kid in the middle of the road, I thought, I would rather do this in a more controlled setting.”

The most challenging part of the job is how much time Brown spends on call. He’s on call 24/7 for two weeks at a time. During the pandemic, there have been times when he was working four or five weeks in a row before they could get coverage. However, the hospital has found another CRNA to come on full-time starting in May, filling a position that’s been open for five years.

Brown’s favorite part of the job is seeing patients wake up pain-free with no nausea.

“A lot of times patients still have the idea of anesthesia from the 70s and they’re fearful of it. We’ve advanced so far in how we monitor things and how we dose things, and of course, the drugs that we use now are so different.”

In his five years at Socorro General, he’s helped the hospital offer more nerve blocks, which can help reduce opioid use and decrease the risk of opioid dependency.

“Any time that you can block the nerves or anesthetize the nerves, the less narcotics you have to use,” said Brown.

Although Brown went to anesthesia school later than many of his peers, he believes his experiences in different nursing roles have made him a stronger provider.

“I don’t think that I would be as strong a provider as I am now had I not had experience in ER, experience in ICU, experience in OB. With all of that experience, I’ve seen when a heart attack is happening or something’s not happening correctly in OB, so I think I’m able to be ahead of the game a little bit, just because of my critical care experience.”

Cathy Cook, Editor, El Defensor Chieftain