CRNAs, or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, are anesthesia professionals who safely administer more than 34 million anesthetics to patients each year in the United States. CRNAs, the first healthcare providers dedicated to the specialty of anesthesia, have their roots in the 1800s, when nurses first gave anesthesia to wounded soldiers on the battlefields of the Civil War. Nurse anesthetists came into existence in 1956, and have been providing anesthesia care to patients in the US for 150 years.
Today, nurse anesthetists are master’s (or doctoral) prepared advanced practice nurses who enjoy a high degree of autonomy and professional respect. The miracle of anesthesia made pain-free surgery a reality, and CRNAs provide anesthetics to patients in every practice environment and for every type of surgery or procedure. They are the sole anesthesia providers in nearly 100 percent of rural hospitals, enabling healthcare facilities in these medically underserved areas to offer obstetrical, surgical, pain management, and trauma stabilization services, and they have been the main provider of anesthesia to the men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces since WWI.
Nurse anesthetists 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. CRNAs provide anesthesia in collaboration with surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other qualified healthcare professionals, and numerous outcomes studies have demonstrated that there is no difference in the quality of care provided by CRNAs and their physician counterparts. Nurse anesthetists practice with a high degree of autonomy and professional respect in the clinical setting at all times.