Army Reserves Nurse Anesthetist Reflects on Asian American / Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Source: Texas Association of Nurse Anesthetists
Date: May 11, 2022

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AUSTIN, TX—The Texas Association of Nurse Anesthetists (TxANA) celebrates and recognizes Asian American / Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month during May and the excellent care given to patients by Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) of diverse backgrounds.

COL. John Gasko, CRNA, DNP, celebrates his profession through his service to our country each day as a member of the U.S. Army Reserves and an active frontline anesthesia provider.

Growing up in a military family, Gasko spent his life in two world regions.

"My mom was Japanese, and my dad was in the Marines," Gasko said. "They met when he was stationed in Japan. I grew up in Okinawa, then Georgia. Both of my sisters served as well as myself."

"I knew I wanted to be a CRNA in nursing school," Gasko said. "My sister, who I looked up to, was in the U.S. Army CRNA Program. I knew that this was the path I wanted to take. I commissioned into the Army two days before 9/11. Until last August, my entire career in the Army and Army Reserves, we've been at war."

According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthesia (AANA), nurse anesthesia has been an essential part of military operations in the United States since the American Civil War. Today, CRNAs have full practice authority in every branch of the military. They are the primary providers of anesthesia care to U.S. military personnel on front lines, navy ships, and aircraft evacuation teams around the globe.

Now practicing in San Antonio, Gasko feels more connected to his patients in his identity as an Asian American and knowing what it is like to be on the receiving end of healthcare.

"My identity has helped patients feel more comfortable with me," Gasko said. "I'm an extrovert, so it is easy for me to build rapport with patients. I've had two knee surgeries in the past three years; so I understand what it is like to be a patient."

Gasko celebrates AAPI Heritage Month by reflecting on the country's diversity and his profession.

"It is a reminder of how diverse this country is and how every culture contributes to making it great," Gasko said.

For the next generation of CRNAs, Gasko advises them to stay curious about their profession and the care they continue to provide patients.

"I love being a CRNA and teaching at all levels," Gasko said. "I always tell the SRNAs and interested ICU nurses to come to learn anesthesiology so that I can retire one day.

"Be humble and be hungry for more. You should learn something new every day. Even if it is wrong, you learn what not to do. I continue to learn something new every day in this profession.”

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About TxANA

Advancing patient safety and the profession of nurse anesthesia, the Texas Association of Nurse Anesthetists (TxANA) was founded on Aug. 9, 1974. Its goals include facilitating cooperation between nurse anesthetists and the health care profession, hospitals, healthcare providers, and other agencies interested in anesthesia. The membership is limited to Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and Nurse Anesthesia Students who are members of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA).

Nurses were the first professional group to specialize in and provide anesthesia services in the United States in the 1880s. Today there are over 59,000 CRNAs practicing throughout the United States, of which more than 5,400 are located in Texas. CRNAs are advanced practice nurses registered by the Texas Board of Nursing (BON). CRNAs must hold a current state license as a registered nurse, graduate from an approved educational program, successfully complete the certification examination and comply with continuing education requirements for recertification. Learn more at