About the Academy

(Excerpted from the Forward of "The Anaesthetists' Travel Club - Academy of Anesthesiology: 75 Years in Service to this Specialty", Edited by H. Michael Marsh, MBBS; C. Ronald Stephen, MD, CM, FFARCS; and Douglas R. Bacon, MD, MA: 2004)

In 2004, the Academy of Anesthesiology will celebrate its seventy-fifth anniversary. On December 16, 1929, fifteen men, "young" physician anesthetists came together to see what techniques were in use in the operating rooms of the Mayo Clinic. The meeting was similar to those meetings of the Society of Clinical Surgery, in which young, prominent academic surgeons took turns hosting each other and demonstrating innovative surgical techniques in their "home" operating rooms. The host of the first meeting, John Lundy, hoped that each of the Anesthetists' Travel Club would go back to his home and teach other physicians what he had learned.

The Travel Club became, almost without design, a force in the politics of organized anesthesia of the 1930's. Members played a key role in convincing the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Board of Medical Specialties that anesthesiology could have an examining board under the auspices of the surgeons. American members of this group would play a key role in the development of the American Society of Anesthetists, which later became the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), the American Board of Anesthesiology, and the AMA Section on Anesthesiology. The Canadian members have played key roles in the Canadian Anaesthetists' Society which became the Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society. Members helped to create centers of academic excellence in the specialty, both in the United States and Cnada, before World War Two and were instrumental in the training of large numbers of physicians in anesthesia for the military during the international crisis.

Due to constraints on travel during the war, the Travel Club did not meet. In the post war period, the limit of thirty members per meeting did not fit with the growth that was going on in anesthesiology. Thus, the Travel Club held its last meeting in December 1952 at the Mayo Clinic. Lundy and Roland Whitacre drafted a constitution for a new organization, The Academy of Anesthesiology. Founding members of the Academy were the members of the Travel Club.

Growing in size, the Academy did not lose its political importance. A large number of ASA Presidents have been members, as have a significant number of the ASA's Distinguished Service Award winners. The Academy is too large for clinical demonstrations in the operating room, but the spirit of members teaching each other has continued. While the organization has grown, the spirit of camaraderie and family has continued.