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What is a Nurse Anesthetist or CRNA?

Nurse Anesthetists are Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs) who receive special education in the administration of anesthesia. Nurse Anesthetists are used throughout the world in over 100 countries in various capacities, including the United States, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

In the United States, Nurse Anesthetists have been administering anesthesia to patients of all ages for almost 150 years and currently are responsible for administering over 30 million anesthetics per year. They practice in hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, office-based surgical and dental practices, and in pain management clinics. They play a vital role in the anesthesia services of the U.S. military and Veterans hospitals.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are highly educated and highly specialized Advanced Practice Nurses who undergo 24 to 36 months of Master’s (graduate) level academic and clinical study covering anatomy, physiology, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, advanced pharmacology, and research. Prior to entering this training, CRNAs are required to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing or another related science and have practiced a minimum of one year as an Intensive or Acute Care Nurse.

CRNAs administer anesthesia to patients of every age and for every surgical procedure, from neonates to the elderly, and from cataract surgery to organ transplants. Their value to the healthcare system in the United States is undeniable. Nearly 45,000 CRNAs in the U.S. administer over 30 million anesthetics per year in all 50 states and in the U.S. military, working with surgeons, anesthesiologists, or independently.

The rapid increase in the demand for surgical and anesthesia services around the world is quickly surpassing the number of qualified providers, with most experts warning of dire shortages of competent and well-trained physician and non-physician anesthesia providers. Nurse Anesthetists are uniquely positioned to alleviate this crisis, enabling people of all socioeconomic ranks to have access to safe and affordable healthcare.

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