Someone asked a question on another thread about health requirements for practicing CRNAs. I thought I should start a specific thread to address the question.
I would say that, in general, CRNAs have to be able to stay with their specific case no matter what. So personal illness that would call you away from a case is a significant issue. All of us have horror stories of getting caught in a room on a long case. People try to give breaks, but with departments working so short staffed, often there is no one available. Leaving your patient is not an option. An anesthesia provider must be in continuous presence.
Now, having said that, I would not completely discourage someone with a health problem from entering the profession. Not all cases are marathons, and such a person might end up working in a place where most cases are of short duration. Or a department with adequate staffing to be able to guarantee breaks when requested. There is such a CRNA shortage, that I imagine most people would be open to do whatever it takes to keep people working, even if it takes a little flexibility.
I know of CRNAs who are severe diabetics, and they make it work. I guess they keep snacks in their pocket, because I have worked many shifts without meals. On the other hand, I knew a SRNA who left school because of chronic colitis, the stress of school was making the colitis worse.
Maybe the best approach would be to discuss the issue openly with both the prospective school and workplace.
Jan 30, '03
Thanks for your insight loisane
Feb 1, '03
I totally agree with your remarks regarding health issues. I work by myself, frequently on long cases and have learned how to snack on Balance Bars and coffee and when to run to the rest room for a minute. Because I am in sole private practice, there have been times that I have gone to work when I wasn't feeling 100%. But never did I compromise patient care. I know CRNAs with chronic illnesses, like diabetes and rhumatoid arthritis, where they function well, but depend on other anesthetists for back up support.
I do think good physical, emotional and mental health are important in a stress related field. But, also I think it is very interesting that I have rarely heard CRNAs use the term "burn-out"; but commonly hear it from other RNs.