nurse anesthetists have been providing anesthesia care in the united states for over 125 years. nurses first provided anesthesia to wounded soldiers during the civil war. more than 90% of this country’s nurse anesthetists are members of the american association of nurse anesthetists (aana).
certified registered nurse anesthetists (crnas) are anesthesia professionals who personally administer approximately 65% of all anesthetics given to patients each year in the united states.
crnas are the sole anesthesia providers in approximately two thirds of all rural hospitals in the united states, enabling these healthcare facilities to offer obstetrical, surgical, and trauma stabilization services. in some states, crnas are the sole providers in nearly 100% of the rural hospitals.
according to a 1999 report from the institute of medicine, anesthesia care today is nearly 50 times safer than it was 20 years ago.
crnas provide anesthetics to patients in collaboration with surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists, podiatrists, and other qualified healthcare professionals. when anesthesia is administered by a nurse anesthetist, it is recognized as the practice of nursing; when administered by an anesthesiologist, it is recognized as the practice of medicine.
as advanced practice 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.
managed care plans
recognize crnas for providing high-quality anesthesia care with reduced expense to patients and insurance companies. the cost-efficiency of crnas helps control escalating healthcare costs
across the country, nurse anesthetist professional liability premiums are 39% lower than 15 years ago.
legislation passed by congress in 1986 made nurse anesthetists the first nursing specialty to be accorded direct reimbursement rights under the medicare program.
approximately 49% of the nation’s 34,000 nurse anesthetists who work full-time are men, compared with 8% in the nursing profession as a whole.
education and experience required to become a crna include:
- a bachelor of science in nursing (bsn) or other appropriate baccalaureate degree.
- a current license as a registered nurse.
- at least one year of experience as a registered nurse in an acute care setting.
- graduation with a master’s degree from an accredited nurse anesthesia program. as of february 2006, there were 99 nurse anesthesia programs with more than 1,000 affiliated clinical sites in the united states. they range from 24-36 months, depending upon university requirements. all programs include clinical training in university-based or large community hospitals.
- pass a national certification examination following graduation.
in order to maintain their recertification, crnas must obtain a minimum of 40 hours of continuing education every two years.
1998; revised june 2004; updated february 2006