In 1979, Dr. Franklin B. McKechnie, an anesthesiologist practicing in Winter Park, Florida, supported the commitment of several nurses who were interested in becoming involved with developing and promoting education, standards for post anesthesia care, and nursing research. The American Society of Post Anesthesia Nurses (ASPAN) was founded in October of 1980 to promote and support a core mission for nurses practicing in the post anesthesia care unit.1 Supported and encouraged by the commitment and dedication of Dr. McKechnie and his colleagues, the founding members of ASPAN organized the first board of directors and soon thereafter, the first newsletter, the first national conference in St. Louis, Missouri, and the first guidelines for standards of care.
Throughout the years, many factors have influenced the specialty of perianesthesia nursing. Although the postanesthesia phase of care remains a critical period during a perioperative experience, the preoperative nursing care and post-recovery phases of care have gained equal attention and importance. “Growth in electronic and cyber-communication, documentation, and record-keeping will continue to challenge perianesthesia nurses across the world. The evolution of health industries will present opportunities for perianesthesia nurses to grow, adapt, and change while preserving the art of caring and the therapeutic science of nursing. Today, as in the 1980s, promoting an environment to provide safe patient care remains an organizational priority for ASPAN.”1
During a personal communication with Ina Pipkin, BSN, RN, Seattle, Washington, ASPAN’s very first president, she noted “I remember vividly the organizing meeting in Florida sitting at a desk near the auditorium and soliciting members. I wondered if we were going to be successful and was very anxious. Thanks to the excellent leadership of nurses throughout the country and the early support of the ASA (American Society of Anesthesiologists), PACU now has its own powerful leadership and can determine their own needs.”2 ASPAN continues to advance and support the unique specialty of perianesthesia nursing and is recognized at the leading organization for evidence-based perianesthesia nursing practice.
- Clifford TL, Mamaril M, Sullivan E. The History of ASPAN Standards. J Perianesth Nurs. 2005;20(6):380-384.
- Pipkin I. Personal email communication, April 8, 2019
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