Profession
  • Nurse Anesthesiology is...Trust

    by Kristie Hoch, DNP, CRNA, MS, RRT 

    Each morning across this country patients experience anesthesia for the very first time. They may — understandably — feel anxious or scared. Fortunately, there are trusted experts to comfort them: CRNAs. 

    Even if patients are knowledgeable about their procedures, anesthesia delivery is often not well understood until they meet with their CRNA. We earn their trust by explaining the process to them and discussing informed options. We make personal connections and alleviate their fears. This honest dialogue is vital to creating trust. 

    Patients can rely on CRNAs because we’re part of one of the most respected and trusted professions: Nursing. Nurses have ranked highest in the trust category year after year in United States ethics polls. During the pandemic, nurses earned a record 89% very high/high score in a Gallup poll for their honesty and ethics. Extensive safety records are another part of what places CRNAs among that highly trusted group as advanced practice nurses specializing in anesthesia. Since the first recorded practice of anesthesia delivery on the battlefields of the Civil War, nurse anesthesiology has grown into a profession that encompasses more than a hundred years of independently providing safe anesthesia. Though our record speaks for itself, evidence is abundant through studies documenting that the CRNA safety record is comparable, if not better than, their counterparts. In 2016, the National Rural Health Association published a policy brief outlining its recommendation for no CRNA supervision in the provision of anesthesia care, because it is safe and the most cost-effective. 

    Finally, patients can feel secure in the knowledge that CRNAs are highly experienced. To become a CRNA, bachelor’s degree registered nurses with intensive care backgrounds apply to competitive programs with a 5-10% acceptance rate. They train for three or more years at a rigorous and demanding pace while crafting their anesthesia clinical skills. They must meet the minimum required 2,000 hours of clinical anesthesia time and a minimum of 650 cases to sit for the national board certification exam. Unlike other anesthesia professionals, CRNAs are often not allowed to practice if they do not pass that exam.

    CRNA experience, our safety record, and our personal rapport with patients all create a strong foundation for trust. It is our duty to ensure that every patient is safe and comfortable during a vulnerable time in their lives — a duty that we have trained for and are trusted to carry out each day.

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