Nurse anesthetists are proud members of the patient care team.
CRNAs collaborate with the physicians, nurses, and other members of the patient care team to ensure the patient’s safety and comfort. As anesthesia experts, CRNAs are responsible for the safety of the patient before, during and after anesthesia, and stay with the patient from the beginning to the end of the procedure.
Among the many responsibilities CRNAs fulfill as a member of the patient care team are the following:
- 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.
- Provide safe, holistic, patient-centered, evidence-based anesthesia and analgesia services.
- Assess, identify, and manage the care of patients suffering from acute and/or chronic pain.
- Select and administer anesthetic and other types of drugs to preserve life functions.
- Respond quickly and appropriately in emergencies.
- Ensure the comfort and safety of patients of all ages and at every acuity level.
For a concise summary of the primary elements of nurse anesthesia practice, click here.
South Dakota’s Nurse Anesthetists
CRNAs are highly qualified anesthesia experts who practice in every hospital and ambulatory surgery center across South Dakota where anesthesia is required for surgery, labor and delivery, trauma care, and pain management. They are the sole anesthesia providers in 100 percent of South Dakota’s rural facilities. In a small number of S.D. facilities, CRNAs work collaboratively with physician anesthesiologists; in such instances, CRNAs are always the hands-on caregivers.
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.
In South Dakota as of January 2020:
- There are 509 licensed CRNAs.
- 41 of 66 counties have anesthesia services, and CRNAs are the sole providers in 34 of the 41 (83%).
- CRNAs provide anesthesia in every county that has anesthesia services; there are no anesthesiologist-only counties.
Research Confirms CRNA Safety and Cost-Effectiveness
Since 2000, all significant anesthesia-related research has confirmed the safety and cost-effectiveness of anesthesia care delivered by CRNAs. In South Dakota, 83 percent of counties with anesthesia services are CRNA-only. Based on the research, in facilities serving these counties the healthcare professionals who collaborate with CRNAs as part of the patient care team can rest assured that their patients will receive the safest, most cost-effective anesthesia care available.
- 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)
- 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)
CRNA Education and Training
CRNAs are well-prepared to be an essential member of the patient care team.
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.
Need to Know Facts about Your CRNA Team Member
- CRNAs and anesthesiologists 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 advocate for and specialize in Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS®). As healthcare professionals, policymakers, and other stakeholders continue to seek effective ways to combat the opioid crisis, CRNAs are doing their share to win the fight. ERAS is a collaborative approach to pain management which involves the patient, CRNA, and entire care team. This patient-centered strategy relies on robust patient communication and opioid-sparing techniques such as regional anesthesia, peripheral nerve blocks, and non-opioid medications. ERAS reduces the need for opioids, improves patient outcomes, and reduces healthcare costs.
- Chronic pain afflicts millions of Americans. CRNAs are specifically educated and trained to care for pain patients by delivering anesthetic injections around nerves and other treatments.
Learn more about CRNAs