Congress Daily

Nurse Anesthetists' Achievements and Service Honored at the Annual Banquet

  • Aug 12, 2019

On Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, the AANA will present awards to four nurse anesthetists for their achievements and service to their patients and the profession.

Agatha Hodgins Award for Outstanding Accomplishment
Wallena Gould, EdD, CRNA, FAAN

The Agatha Hodgins Award for Outstanding Accomplishment was established in 1975 to recognize individuals whose foremost dedication to excellence has furthered the art and science of nurse anesthesia. The award was established to honor Agatha Hodgins (1877-1945), founder and first president of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists.

Wallena Gould is a former chief nurse anesthetist at Inspira Health System and Mainline Endoscopy Centers and the founder and chief executive officer of the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program.

In 2007, Gould founded the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program (DNAMP) as a non-profit organization. This national mentoring program started as an assigned nurse anesthesia poster project, titled, Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia in 2003. The mission of DNAMP is to inform, empower, and mentor underserved diverse populations with information to prepare them for a successful career in nurse anesthesia.

As a nurse anesthesia student Gould recognized that minorities within the nurse anesthesia profession were underrepresented and focused her research on diversity within the profession. The DNAMP fulfills their mission by offering information sessions, anesthesia airway workshops, sponsoring nurse anesthesia students at the AANA Annual Congress, participating in high school career days; visiting Historically Black Colleges and Universities and primarily Hispanic Serving Institutions Schools of Nursing and increasing the doctorate pipeline with Diversity Advanced Practice Doctorate Symposiums.

The mentoring accomplishments of the DNAMP are well documented, not only by the number of prospective students who attend the nationally recognized workshops, symposiums, minority serving institutions, and boot camps, but also by the increased number of diverse CRNAs entering the profession. Gould has made a transformative impact. To date, more than 510 diverse nurses have successfully matriculated through 68 graduate nurse anesthesia programs. DNAMP attendees have graduated and gone on to accept positions in roles such as chief CRNAs, clinical coordinators, full-time faculty, pain management certified providers, anesthesia business owners, military officers, and CRNAs who have gone on to earn doctorate degrees.

Gould was the first CRNA of color to be inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in 2015. In 2016, she was selected as the chair of the AANA Diversity Task Force. In addition, she was the 2018 recipient of the National Black Nurses Association’s Trailblazer Award. 

Alice Magaw Outstanding Clinical Anesthesia Practitioner Award
Scott Urigel, MSN, CRNA

The Alice Magaw Outstanding Clinical Anesthesia Practitioner Award was established in 1986 to recognize the accomplishments of CRNAs who are involved in direct patient care. The recipient of the award is recognized by peers as a person who has made an important contribution to the advancement of nurse anesthesia practice.

Scott Urigel is the co-owner of Western Reserve Anesthesia Education, Western Reserve Anesthesia Associates, and Block Buddy. In addition, he’s a clinical instructor at his alma mater, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Through the education arm of his company, he provides classroom and hands on-instruction for ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia throughout the country. As a clinical and didactic instructor, Urigel is the reason the surgery center who employs his company’s services is also a clinical rotation site.  His students not only receive hands-on instruction, he also lectures on a variety of topics related to regional anesthesia.

A game changer, Urigel invented the Block Buddy Pro App, which includes block descriptions, sonoanatomy images, anatomical illustrations, equipment lists, and actual videos of 28 different ultrasound guided blocks. In addition, the app also contains information on Point of Care Ultrasound (POCUS) and non-opioid medications, and is available offline across mobile devices and computers.

Helen Lamb Outstanding Educator Award
Kay K. Sanders, DNP, MHS, BS, BA, CRNA

The Helen Lamb Outstanding Educator Award, established in 1980, is presented to a CRNA who has made a significant contribution to the education of nurse anesthetists. The award recognizes the individual’s commitment to the profession of nurse anesthesia and to the advancement of educational standards that further the art and science of anesthesiology and result in high quality patient care.

Kay Sanders is the former nurse anesthesia program administrator in the Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. She retired from this position May 31, 2019. As the longest serving program director in Texas, Sanders has had a hand in educating more than 1,200 students as the program administrator at Texas Wesleyan’s Graduate Program of Nurse
Anesthesia, and as founding director of the School of Nurse Anesthesia at Texas Christian University, for  a combined 30 years.  Kay has leveraged distance education and created a culture focused on students and faculty.

Known for her innovation, she responded to the AANA’s call for academic partners to develop a Chronic Pain Management fellowship program, and TCU was competitively selected. With more than 53
presentations, lectures, and testimonies at the state, national, and international levels, Kay is a recognized thought leader in the nurse anesthesia profession.  

Ira P. Gunn Award for Outstanding Professional Advocacy
Jennifer Schmitt, MSNA, CRNA, APRN

The Ira P. Gunn Award was established in 2000 to recognize the accomplishments of CRNAs or non-CRNAs who are involved in overcoming legislative, legal, and regulatory challenges to nurse anesthesia practice rights. The recipient of the award receives recognition by peers as a person who has made an important contribution to the advancement of nurse anesthesia practice rights.

Jennifer Schmitt is in her fourth year on the Oklahoma Association of Nurse Anesthetists (OANA) Board of Directors, having served as president of OANA over the past year. She is also the chair of the Government and Public Relations Committees.

Her contagious passion for advocacy and leadership during the 2018-2020 election cycle led to a successful advocacy campaign that resulted in two senate bills moving successfully through the senate and house health committees. Both bills are active and eligible for a floor hearing in the Spring of 2020.

Schmitt was appointed by the Oklahoma Attorney General to serve on the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse as well.

She is responsible for designing and publishing OANA’s first election guide for pro-CRNA candidates for the 2018 cycle and created public relations booklets for use when speaking to members of the Senate health committee and other legislators.  As a resident of the 5th Oklahoma Congressional District, she’s also serves on the Oklahoma County GOP Executive Committee representing the 5th Congressional District.