Newswise — Park Ridge, Ill. – The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) presented Julie Gauderman, MS, DNAP, CRNA, APRN, with the Daniel D. Vigness Federal Political Director Award at its Mid-Year Assembly, held virtually, April 23-25. Gauderman, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), is associate director of the nurse anesthesia program at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in Winona.

The Federal Political Director of the Year Award, established in 2001, was renamed the Daniel D. Vigness Federal Political Director Award in 2013 in tribute and memory of its first winner. It is presented annually to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of the national healthcare agenda of CRNAs by coordinating grassroots CRNA involvement at the state level or through special contributions to the federal political process.

“I am honored to receive the Federal Political Director Award. Promoting the profession and helping to work towards regulations and legislation that allow CRNAs to practice at their full scope has been both an honor and a privilege,” Gauderman said. “However, all my work could not be accomplished without the support of the Minnesota Association of Nurse Anesthetists and my employers. I thank them for providing me with the resources and time to build the relationships that have allowed me to be a successful advocate for all CRNAs.”

Gauderman has been the Federal Political Director (FPD) for the Minnesota Association of Nurse Anesthetists (MANA) since 2009. She started as the youngest FPD in the history of the state.  She also served as the MANA president 2018-2019, president-elect in 2017 and as director on the board and vice president.

According to her nominator, Gauderman thrives in developing and maintaining close relationships that have paved the way for other CRNAs to reach out to elected officials. “We are so fortunate that we can wave to our (elected) leaders and simply tell them that we are nurse anesthetists and they will stop what they are doing to shake our hands and greet us warmly. … Our immediate closeness with our leaders is special, and these relationships were curated and maintained by Julie Gauderman.”

In addition, she was lauded for the many CRNAs she has mentored throughout the years. “Julie Gauderman has not only secured the present state of CRNA legislative relationships, but she has also educated other aspiring and current FPDs how to be successful as well,” her nominator said. “Julie has mentored the next generation of leaders … by serving on panels and as a student mentor. …. She is a person who chooses to share her knowledge, and she does so with empathy, conviction, and dedication to the profession.”

As well as her position at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, in 2020 Gauderman founded Dream Safe Anesthesia, PC and provides anesthesia services to a local fertility clinic. She also is an instructor for the American Red Cross’ Advanced Life Support and Basic Life Support classes.

Gauderman received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota, and a master’s degree in nursing with a nurse anesthesia area of study from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. She also has a Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice degree from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

As advanced practice nurses, CRNAs are among the most trusted professions according to Gallup.  CRNAs provide anesthesia care across all settings and in all patient populations and are the primary anesthesia providers in rural and underserved areas and on the battlefield in forward surgical teams.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, nurse anesthetists across the country have been essential in addressing the deadliest part of the disease in addition to providing top-of-the-line anesthesia care. They have served as experts in airway management, hemodynamic monitoring, management of patients on ventilators, and overall management of critically ill patients.