Is a Career as a Certified Registered
Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) right for you?
Nurses were the first professional group to provide anesthesia services in the United States. Established in the late 1800s, nurse anesthesia has since become recognized as the first clinical nursing specialty. The discipline of nurse anesthesia developed in response to requests from surgeons seeking a solution to the high morbidity and mortality rates attributed to anesthesia at that time. Surgeons saw nurses as a cadre of professionals who could give their undivided attention to patient care during surgical procedures, as well as in the refinement of anesthesia techniques and equipment.
CRNAs are anesthesia specialists, who administer approximately 65% of all the anesthetics given to patients in the United States each year. A nurse attends an accredited nurse anesthesia education program to receive extensive education in anesthesia. Upon graduation, the nurse must pass a national certification exam to become a CRNA.
CRNAs practice in every setting in which anesthesia is delivered; traditional hospital surgical suites and obstetrical delivery rooms; critical access hospitals; ambulatory surgical centers; the offices of dentists, podiatrists, opthalmologists, and plastic surgeons, and U.S. Military, Public Health Services and Veterans Administration healthcare facilities. They practice on a solo basis, in groups and collaboratively. Some CRNAs have independent contracting arrangements with physicians or hospitals.
CRNAs are in demand and therefore have many opportunities for general or specialty practice throughout the United States. A CRNA takes care of a patient’s anesthesia needs before, during and after surgery or the delivery of a baby by:
- Preparing for anesthetic management
- Performing a physical assessment
- Participating in preoperative teaching
- Administrating anesthesia to keep the patient pain free
- Maintaining anesthesia intraoperatively
- Overseeing recovery from anesthesia
- Following the patient’s postoperative course from recovery room to patient care unit
Anesthesia is a recognized specialty in both medicine and nursing. Approximately 80% of CRNAs work as partners in care with anesthesiologists, while the remaining 20% function as sole anesthesia providers working and collaborating with surgeons and other licensed physicians. The American Association of Nurse Anesthetist (AANA---www.aana.com) supports both practice models and believes that quality outcomes are excellent in both.