This year’s Annual Meeting marks a special milestone for the Association of Veterans Affairs Nurse Anesthetists (AVANA)—the association is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The group will meet from 4 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11, in Barbados B
AVANA was founded by Phyllis Roberts, CRNA; Romona Doran, CRNA, MSEd; and Bonnie Winters, CRNA, ANP, in 1973. The previous year, Winters had collected the names of CRNAs at all the VA stations, their supervisor, job description, responsibilities, step, grade, and years of employment. This information was used in the development and implementation of separating the qualification standards for the nurse and nurse anesthetist, adding compensatory time and the ability to accumulate it, the creation of a chief grade for the nurse anesthetist, and later the position of chief nurse anesthetist. The process to accomplish all this required the passage of four legislative bills and countless hours of voluntary work and trips to Washington, D.C., to meet with the VA Central Office, Congressional members, and support organizations.
“The first year, we moved mountains,” said Winters. She recalled how, from the beginning, Roberts, Doran, and she had to make a lot of political friends in Washington.
From the beginning, education was AVANA's first priority. Since that time, annual educational symposiums have continued, and the AVANA now offers tuition support and scholarships. The group continues to actively promote quality anesthesia services in the VA Medical Centers.