What is a Nurse Anesthetist?
Ashley Bunnell, Class of 2019
A nurse anesthetist is a specialty-trained registered nurse who administers anesthesia to patients who are undergoing surgeries or special procedures.
Nurse anesthetists have a unique approach to patient care, grounded in a nursing perspective. The job isn't just about pharmacology and physiology, but caring for the human spirit while patients receive an anesthetic.
Research shows that Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are the most cost-effective anesthesia providers with an exceptional safety record. In today's changing healthcare environment, patients want healthcare delivered with personal care, at a lower cost, with a high degree of confidence. CRNAs deliver all of these.
The credential CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) came into existence in 1956. CRNAs are anesthesia professionals who safely administer approximately 40 million anesthetics to patients each year in the United States, according to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) 2014 Practice Profile Survey.
CRNAs are the primary providers of anesthesia care in rural America, enabling healthcare facilities in these medically underserved areas to offer obstetrical, surgical, pain management and trauma stabilization services. In some states, CRNAs are the sole providers in nearly 100 percent of the rural hospitals.
CRNAs provide anesthesia in collaboration with surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists, podiatrists, and other qualified healthcare professionals. As advanced practice registered nurses, CRNAs practice with a high degree of autonomy and professional respect. They carry a heavy load of responsibility and are compensated accordingly.
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, ophthalmologists, plastic surgeons, and pain management specialists; and U.S. military, Public Health Services, and Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare facilities.
Nurse anesthetists have been providing anesthesia care to patients in the United States for more than 150 years. As pioneers in advanced practice nursing, nurse anesthetists collaborate with physicians and surgeons, other nurses, and the entire health care team ensure a safe and comfortable perioperative experience for the patients entrusted with their care. As of July 2017, there are 116 accredited nurse anesthesia programs in the United States utilizing more than 1,800 approved clinical sites. Many of these programs award a doctoral degree from entry into practice. Please visit the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists website for details.
Nurses have been providing anesthesia care to patients since the creation of the science and art of anesthesiology in the late 1800's. As pioneers in advanced practice nursing, nurse anesthetists collaborate with physicians and surgeons, other nurses and the entire health care team to ensure a safe and comfortable perioperative experience for the patients entrusted to their care.
Nurse anesthetists have been the main providers of anesthesia care to U.S. military personnel on the front lines since WWI. Nurses first provided anesthesia to wounded soldiers during the Civil War.