What is anesthesia?
Anesthesia is a safe and effective means of alleviating pain during surgery, labor and delivery, trauma care, and other procedures.
What is a CRNA?
“CRNA” stands for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. A CRNA is an anesthesia expert who is educated, trained, certified and licensed to provide all forms of anesthesia care; for all types of surgical, obstetrical, trauma, and pain management procedures; in every type of facility where anesthesia is required; to patients of all ages and at every acuity level. Across the country, more than 54,000 nurse anesthetists safely administer over 49 million anesthetics to patients each year.
Are there CRNAs in South Dakota?
There are 509 licensed CRNAs in S.D. Out of 66 counties, 41 have anesthesia services; CRNAs are the sole anesthesia providers in 83 percent of them. There are no anesthesiologist-only counties.
CRNAs are found in every hospital and ambulatory surgery center across the state where anesthesia care is required for surgery, labor and delivery, trauma stabilization, and pain management. In rural and other medically underserved counties, CRNAs are the sole anesthesia professionals serving their communities.
The steady, reliable presence of CRNAs ensures that patients have access to essential anesthesia services and helps facilities deliver exceptional anesthesia and related care efficiently and cost-effectively.
What do CRNAs do?
CRNAs provide the following services and then some:
- Practice in collaboration with other qualified healthcare professionals.
- Provide safe, holistic, patient-centered, evidence-based anesthesia and analgesia services.
- Conduct a pre-anesthesia interview with the patient, administer the anesthetic, monitor and interpret the patient’s vital signs, manage the patient throughout surgery, and ensure the patient’s safe transfer to recovery.
- Handle any emergency.
- Provide anesthesia care in every healthcare setting where anesthesia is required for surgical, obstetrical, trauma, diagnostic, therapeutic, and pain management services.
- Care for patients of all ages and at every acuity level.
In addition to being exceptional clinicians, CRNAs also excel as business owners, researchers, educators, facility administrators and in other related roles.
How Extensive is a CRNA’s Education and Training?
CRNAs are highly educated, well-prepared anesthesia professionals.
Total education and training:
- 7-8 ½ years of nursing and anesthesia education and training
- More than 9,000 clinical hours
Prior to entering nurse anesthesia program:
- Attain bachelor’s degree in nursing, RN license, minimum 1 year of critical care experience
- Average critical care experience: 2.9 years (CRNAs are the only anesthesia professionals who start their anesthesia education knowing how to manage critical events)
Prior to becoming a CRNA:
- Graduate with master’s or doctorate degree from accredited nurse anesthesia educational program
- Pass National Certification Exam
CRNAs embrace life-long learning, maintaining their certification through continuing education.
What are the differences between CRNAs and anesthesiologists?
It is far more accurate to ask, “What are the similarities?” CRNAs and anesthesiologists are similarly prepared anesthesia experts who provide anesthesia care using the same techniques and medications, to patients of all ages, in every type of healthcare setting, for every type of procedure that requires anesthesia. CRNAs are often the sole anesthesia provider involved with a patient’s care, especially in rural states such as South Dakota. Nurse anesthetists were the first recognized anesthesia professionals in the United States and have been providing patients freedom from pain for more than 150 years.
What are my anesthesia options?
Patients should discuss their anesthesia options in detail with their CRNA, but the three basic types of anesthesia are:
- General anesthesia, which produces a loss of sensation throughout the entire body.
- Regional anesthesia, produces a loss of sensation to a specific region of the body.
- Local anesthesia, which produces a loss of sensation to a small specific area of the body.
Will my anesthesia provider stay with me during my procedure?
If your anesthesia is provided by a CRNA, he or she will be with you during your procedure from start to finish.
How safe is anesthesia?
While having anesthesia for a procedure is not without risk, the National Academy of Medicine has identified anesthesia as one of the safest healthcare experiences a patient can undergo. In addition, all significant anesthesia-related research published since 2000 has confirmed the safety of anesthesia care delivered by Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists. Two landmark studies are the following:
- Nursing Economic$ (2010/2016): Cost Effectiveness Analysis of Anesthesia Providers (a CRNA working solo is the most cost-effective anesthesia delivery model, with no reduction in patient safety)
- Health Affairs (2010): No Harm Found When Nurse Anesthetists Work Without Supervision by Physicians (anesthesia care is equally safe when provided by a CRNA working solo, a physician anesthesiologist working solo, or a CRNA and anesthesiologist working together)
What else should I know about CRNAs?
CRNAs are the primary anesthesia providers for maternity patients, in rural and other medically underserved areas of the United States, and in the U.S. Military. CRNAs are typically the sole anesthesia providers on the front lines of U.S. Military actions around the world, caring for wounded soldiers in the line of fire. Back home they play a significant role in the care of military veterans in VA hospitals and other facilities.