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Welcome to the AANA Annual Meeting

Debra Malina

It is my honor and my pleasure to welcome you to the 79th AANA Annual Meeting in beautiful San Francisco! This is a time for the nurse anesthesia community to come together to learn, spend time with friends new and old, and advocate for and renew our commitment to our profession.

While you’re here, I urge you to take time to explore what this world-class city has to offer. History, limitless entertainment possibilities, and extraordinary beauty—San Francisco has it all! Allow me to recommend some of my favorite attractions: Alcatraz, Golden Gate Bridge (a great run), Fisherman's Wharf (a great walk—and eat!), along with cable cars, Ghirardelli Square, and the Presidio.

You’re in for an exciting time–so many valuable opportunities for professional development, networking, and of course, fun, packed into just a few days. This meeting, like all AANA Annual Meetings, will give you a chance to influence the future of your professional association by participating in the Business Meeting. I urge you to stop by the AANA Federal Government Affairs (FGA)/CRNA-PAC booth to send a message to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding continued CRNA reimbursement for chronic  pain management services. You can also have an impact on the future of your profession by participating in other advocacy activities at the FGA/CRNA-PAC booth, and find out about how the AANA Foundation supports nurse anesthesia research and how you can support the Foundation by visiting their booth.

The Annual Meeting is also a time to extend our generosity to the community at large. Be sure to sign up for the second annual Blood Drive on Monday, Aug. 6. On Sunday, our annual Party with a Purpose will benefit a charity with a focus that is close to our hearts. Homes for our Troops is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to building homes for servicemen and servicewomen who have returned home with serious disabilities and injuries since Sept. 11, 2001. For fun and fitness, join your colleagues in the Wellness Walk/Run on Monday. And remember, check out the Exhibit Hall on Sunday through Tuesday, and find out what our vendors have to offer.

Education is always a key focus of Annual Meetings, and this year’s sessions offer something for every interest.  Combining inspiration with education is our keynote speaker: outdoorsman, engineer, and motivational speaker Aron Lee Ralston. He is widely known for having survived a canyoneering accident in south-eastern Utah in 2003, during which he was forced to amputate his own right arm with a dull multi-tool in order to free himself from a dislodged boulder. The incident is documented in Ralston's autobiography Between a Rock and a Hard Place, and is the subject of the film "127 Hours."

Looking Back with Pride and Gratitude

Of course, this Annual Meeting is bittersweet for me, as it marks the end of my term as your president. Looking back on this challenging and eventful year, we have much to be proud of and grateful for, including:

  • Working with Medicare to resolve issues with CRNA chronic pain management reimbursement, culminating in the proposed rule issued on July 6.
  • Bringing CRNA competency validation up to par with other professional organizations.
  • The passing of nondiscrimination language (which will take CRNA reimbursement and ability to practice out of politics).
  • The appointment of Kelly Wiltse Nicely, CRNA, PhD, to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education by the National Academies.
  • Implementation of the 50-state service strategy and the creation of State Association Toolkits, as well as several crucial victories on the state level, especially the California opt-out.
  • Breaking down silos within divisions of AANA and fostering a new, modern vision of governance.

Along with many challenges, this year came with opportunities that few people experience, such as meeting with officials from Health Resources Services Administration, the White House office of Healthcare Reform, and Medicare & Medicaid Services, to name a few. But most of all, I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve our profession and our Association and its members, and to go to so many state meetings to meet and listen to AANA members. I wouldn’t have missed this year for the world!

Looking Forward with Hope

I would like to leave you with my hope that CRNAs join together and support each other in whatever state, type of facility, or practice model they are in. There are those who would use the conflicts in our ranks to divide and conquer. We need to work together, with our professional association, for the good of our profession and the patients we serve. The AANA and our state associations are the ONLY professional organizations whose sole concern is the practice of nurse anesthesia. We cannot lose sight of that.

As healthcare reform unfolds, and as the IOM report regarding the future of nursing gets more traction, CRNAs will be part of the solution to the problems of accessible, quality affordable anesthesia services to over 40 million citizens of this country. We need to be ready.