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Nurse Anesthetists

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are advanced practice nurses who provide anesthesia and related care before and after surgical, therapeutic and diagnostic procedures. They also provide pain management and emergency services, such as airway management. They safely provide more than 43 million anesthetics each year in the United States in collaboration with anesthesiologists, surgeons, nurses and other qualified healthcare professionals. They can be found in every type of practice setting, and they provide care for every type of operation or procedure.

HSS CRNAs provide anesthesia and anesthesia-related care services utilizing a model developed by the Anesthesia Care Team to facilitate diagnostic, therapeutic, and surgical procedures.

The nurse anesthesia profession is known for its highly respected educational system and its strong commitment to quality education. Academic programs range from 24 to 36 months in length, depending upon university requirements, and all are at the master’s degree level or higher. This sophisticated educational system provides a graduate level science foundation along with clinical anesthesia experience to effectively train competent nurse anesthesia professionals.

Academic Requirements

The didactic curricula of nurse anesthesia programs are governed by Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Program (COA) standards and provide students the scientific, clinical and professional foundation upon which to build sound and safe clinical practice. The basic nurse anesthesia academic curriculum and prerequisite courses focus on coursework in anesthesia practice: pharmacology of anesthetic agents and adjuvant drugs, including concepts in chemistry and biochemistry; anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology; professional aspects of nurse anesthesia practice; basic and advanced principles of anesthesia practice, including physics, equipment, technology and pain management; research; and clinical correlation conferences.

Most programs exceed these minimum requirements. In addition, many require study in methods of scientific inquiry and statistics, as well as active participation in research.

Board Certification

The National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) is the certifying body that administers the national certification examination. Each graduate of a nurse anesthesia educational program must pass the national certification examination before he or she can be certified as a CRNA.

Recertification is required of CRNAs on a biennial basis. The recertification program is administered by The National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA), which reviews CRNA qualifications regarding:

  • Current licensure as a registered nurse
  • Continuing education (40 CE credits)
  • Certification that he or she has been substantially engaged in the practice of anesthesia during the two-year period
  • Verification of the absence of mental, physical or other problems that could interfere with the practice of anesthesia

At HSS, CRNAs work under the direction and supervision of an anesthesiologist to:

  • Perform a preoperative evaluation, and together with the anesthesiologist formulate an anesthetic plan
  • Obtain and administer the anesthetics, adjuvant drugs, accessory drugs and fluids necessary to manage the anesthetic, to maintain the patient’s physiologic homeostasis, and to correct abnormal responses to the anesthesia or surgery
  • Insert appropriate noninvasive and invasive monitoring modalities for collecting and interpreting patient physiological data
  • Manage a patient’s airway and pulmonary status using endotracheal intubation, mechanical ventilation, pharmacological support, respiratory therapy, or extubation
  • Manage emergence and recovery from anesthesia
  • Release or discharge patients from a postanesthesia care area
  • Initiate or modify pain relief therapy, through the utilization of drugs, or other accepted pain relief modalities
  • Respond to emergency situations by providing airway management, administration of emergency fluids or drugs, or using basic or advanced cardiac life support techniques


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