The New York State Society of Anesthesiologists, Inc. (NYSSA) is dedicated to advancing the specialty of anesthesiology and supporting the physicians and scientists who are striving to provide the safest, highest-quality patient care to the citizens of New York state.
What is a Physician Anesthesiologist?
The practice of anesthesiology is broad and transcends the operating room. Anesthesiologists are experts in pain medicine; they help patients with chronic disease live better lives through pain management treatments every day. Additionally, their work in critical care units saves countless lives. Anesthesiologists treat patients with complications from pulmonary and cardiac issues, to infection control and advanced life support.
On October 6, 1905, nine physician-anesthetists, whose particular interests centered on anesthetics, met at Long Island College Hospital at the invitation of Dr. A. Frederick Erdmann for the purpose of “promoting the art and science of anesthesia.” From this small group came the Long Island Society of Anesthetists and it was this organization that gave rise to organized anesthesia in the United States and its present body, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA).
As interest in anesthetics and the scientific sessions of the new society grew throughout those first years, so did the need to broaden the scope of membership. On October 28, 1911 at the New York Academy of Medicine, located at 40 East 41st Street in Manhattan, the name of the society was changed to the New York Society of Anesthetists. On February 7, 1912, their new constitution reiterated the precepts of its founders for “the advancement of the science and art of Anesthesia…”
The importance of a journal of anesthesia publications, news and activities was advocated by Frank H. McMechan, one of anesthesia’s most militant and zealous pioneers. In 1914, he persuaded the American Journal of Surgery to include supplements on anesthesia and analgesia on a quarterly basis.
In response to the need to make the society a national one, and to advance toward the approval of a specialty board with the American Medical Association (AMA), the word “American” was substituted for “New York” on February 13, 1936, and the society became the American Society of Anesthetists. By the close of the fourth decade, anesthesiology became a recognized medical specialty having a national Society, a certification process, a specialty Board, a section in the American Medical Association (AMA) and a formal journal of its own “Anesthesiology” representing the American Society of Anesthetists with its first issue in July of 1940.
During World War II doctors were needed to care for the wounded of the Armed Forces. The crash courses in anesthesia, needed to train these doctors, did not go unappreciated. Surgeons were put at ease with fellow physicians at the head of the operating table administering and supervising anesthetics. This mutual respect increased in the post-war period when trained anesthesiologists came to be in demand at civilian hospitals.
The word “anesthesiology” was coined in 1902 by Dr. M. J. Seifert who defined it as: “The science that treats the means and methods of producing various degrees of insensibility to pain with or without hypnosis. An Anesthetist is a technician and an Anesthesiologist is the specific authority on anesthesia and anesthetics.” And as anesthesiology commonly replaced the word “anesthesia” in official medical usage, the American Society of Anesthetists became the American Society of Anesthesiologists, on May 12, 1945. In December of that same year, the first PostGraduate Assembly in Anesthesiology (PGA) was held and in 1947 became the Annual Meeting of the newly formed state component of the ASA, The New York State Society of Anesthesiologists (NYSSA).
History of the PGA
The New York State Society of Anesthesiologists, Inc., launched the first PostGraduate Assembly in Anesthesiology on December 13, 1945 in New York City’s Hotel Pennsylvania.
Originally, the PGA was to be a biennial meeting. Thus, the second PGA was not held until 1947, and the venue was changed to the New Yorker Hotel. However, the New York State Section of the American Society of Anesthesiologists had just organized and the PGA functioned as its annual meeting.
The third PGA was held a year later and innovations in the 1948 program included a panel session on “Diagnostic and Therapeutic Block for the Treatment of Intractable Pain” chaired by Harvard surgeons, Drs. White and Sweet. This panel illustrates the PGA philosophy of utilizing the best experts for panels regardless of specialty. The panel’s prominence within the program also demonstrated the importance of pain management to anesthesiology even in the late 1940s. 1950 marked the fourth PGA, and from then on the meeting would be held yearly.
In 1963 the meeting moved to the, then brand new, New York Hilton Hotel which allowed the opportunity for expansion of the program and increased attendance.
In the 1980’s the meeting continued to grow and new innovations such as miniworkshops were introduced. Focus sessions, problem-based learning discussions and interactive workshops were added in the 1990s to keep the program on the cutting edge of anesthesiology.
In the early 1990’s the general and scientific chair of the meeting began to recruit the best speakers from the international community and thus many more international anesthesiologists started to attend the PGA, which today comprises approximately 30% of the registered participants.
What began in 1945 to assist returning armed forces physicians has evolved to an international meeting of historic proportions.
Attendance has grown over the years from 722 in 1947 to 7,376 as of 2000.