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For more than a century and a quarter Nurse Anesthetists have been providing anesthetic care to patients in the United States of America. A Registered Nurse who has undergone advanced and specialized training in the administration of anesthesia is called a Nurse Anesthetist. They are Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists. Over the years it is seen that Nurse Anesthetists are the most highly paid among all other categories of specialized Nurses with their average reported salary being in the range of $140,000.
History Of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists
They are the first of the “nursing specialty groups” and have been working as administrators of anesthesia in the United States for more than a hundred and twenty five years. The first nurse to provide anesthesia to patients was Catherine S. Lawrence during the Civil War in 1861. As resident anesthesia physicians did not exist in the early days, many physicians attended these courses to learn anesthesia. Ms. Alice Magaw is often called the “Mother of Anesthesia”. She was the one who set up a showcase for anesthesia in surgery that attracted many students in the U.S. of America.
After gaining immense popularity, this branch of nursing was formalized as a specialty on June 17, 1931 and the American Association for Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) was organized and conducted by Agatha Hodgins in 1923 with over 28,000 members. The main goal of this organization were to establish a national qualifying examination and an accreditation program for nurse anesthesia schools. The 1st National Certification Exams were held on June 4, 1945 and ninety two candidates sat for the exam.
Scope for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA)
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists now practice in all 50 States of America and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. They are independent licensed practitioners. Some degree of supervision is maintained by some States but this also varies depending the laws of the individual States. State laws do not lay down any aspect of the practice but only in relation to the extent of supervision with the anesthesiologist or the surgeon. Restrictions, if any, placed on the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists are purely in the realm of the particular hospital’s credentialing process and the Department of Anesthesia’s guidelines. These privileges depend on prior training, experience and certification.
The Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist’s practice includes duties in traditional hospitals, nursing homes, physician’s clinics and even in solo practices. They also play a role in the Veterans Administration (VA), public and military health care. They also form a part of an Anesthesia Care Team.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists can administer anesthesia in all kinds of surgical cases involving either general, regional, spinal, local and for sedation. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists are gaining more acceptance in developing and underdeveloped countries where there is a dearth of Anesthesiologists or where they are very expensive. As such the International Federation of Nurse Anesthetists (IFNA) was established in 1989 to look after the interests of nurse anesthetists all over the world. The organization has also been instrumental in developing standards of training, practice and code of ethics.
Requirements For A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
The education and experience required for qualifying as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist comprise of the following:
o Current license as a Registered Nurse
o A minimum of a years experience in a Intensive Care Unit
o A Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (BSN) or an equivalent Baccalaureate degree
o A Masterâ€™s degree from an accredited nurse anesthesia educational program
o A National Certification Examination that has to be cleared once graduation is complete.
As a continuing medical education process, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists must obtain a minimum of 40 hours of additional training every two years documenting extensive practice in anesthesia, maintaining State license and also certifying that they have not acquired any condition that precludes them from the practice of anesthesia.