Ep 104: How Ira Gunn Shaped Nurse Anesthesia Through Service, Education & Advocacy

Few people had an impact on nursing and the nurse anesthesia profession like Ira P. Gunn, CRNA, MLN, FAAN. Widely regarded as a visionary in the profession, Gunn’s legacy lives on through many different capacities. To help us better understand her life and accomplishments, Nancy Bruton-Maree and Sandy Ouellette join us to share what they know about Gunn and what they learned from working with her.

Click the timestamps below to help you navigate through the many topics we discussed.

On This Episode:

One of the missions for this podcast is to document the history of the nurse anesthesia profession by spotlighting people that have made a lasting impact.

We’ve learned about the first IFNA researcher , Ronald Caulk and many others. Today we turn our attention to Ira P. Gunn, CRNA, MLN, FAAN, who found her purpose early in life and followed her purpose until she passed away in 2011.

This is an episode that could easily be broken up into multiple parts but we’ll teach you all about her on this show. And who better to help us with that than two of the unofficial historians of our profession: Nancy Bruton-Maree, CRNA and Sandy Ouellette, CRNA. They both have worked alongside Gunn during their career and have some great stories to share on top of the information they’ll provide.

As you’ll learn on this episode, there aren’t many people that have made the impact of Gunn over their lifetime. It’s not just about the accomplishments and honors but also about the respect she’s earned from her friends and peers through the years.

So as you get started on the episode, keep an ear out for these topics:

  • How Ira Gunn got started in nursing
  • Her life mission and vision was established early on
  • Military experience during the Korean War
  • Establishing the first graduate level nurse anesthesia program
  • The many gifts she left the profession
  • Her involvement with the AANA
  • Her input into direct reimbursement
  • The awards and high honors she received
  • What her friends and peers have said about her.
  • Her beliefs that are still relevant today.

Check it out the interview at the top of the page and use the timestamps to help you navigate through the many topics we discussed.

[2:53] – Nancy and Sandy joining us again in studio

[3:30] – Today we’re talking about Ira Gunn

[4:35] – Background on Ira Gunn and her early years

[8:02] – Developing her life mission and vision

[10:14] – Her career in the military

[14:48] – Dr. Weeks served under Ira Gunn

[17:03] – Her many gifts to nursing and nurse anesthesia profession

[23:52] – Nancy tells a story about a time Ira saved her

[27:25] – Awards and honors she received

[28:54] – How was she viewed by her professional friends?

[35:29] – What beliefs did she instill us that still has relevance today?

[40:15] – Final Thoughts on Ira


“When we talk reverently about Ira Gunn, we talk about this legacy. Nobody can question the fact that it was not left, and we’re still benefiting all these years later.”

Sandy Ouellette, CRNA

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