National CRNA Week is celebrated every year from January 23 to January 29 in appreciation of members of the National CRNA. A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) is an advanced practice nurse who is certified to administer anesthesia in the U.S. These nurse anesthetists account for approximately half of the anesthesia providers in the U.S., and they are the main providers of anesthesia in rural U.S. Historically, they have been providing anesthesia care to patients since the American Civil War and the CRNA credential came into existence in 1956.
History of National CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists) Week
One of the first American nurses to provide anesthetics was Catherine S. Lawrence, who served during the American Civil War. She administered chloroform to wounded soldiers during the Second Battle of Bull Run in 1863 who needed emergency operations on the battlefield. Despite this, it would be many years before nurses stepped up to the formal calling of providing anesthesia. Factors such as lack of training, the non-emergency nature of civilian surgical practice post-Civil War, and the insufficiency of role models and sponsors contributed to the delay in the influx of nurse anesthetists. However, surgeons began to train and encourage nurses to take on this important role.
Catholic nuns had a major part in the training of nurses as well as in anesthesia. The earliest recorded nurse to specialize in anesthesia was Sister Mary Bernard Sheridan, a Catholic nun who practiced in 1877 at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania. Sister Mary Sheridan’s influence became widespread in the Midwest, and many other Catholic nuns who were also nurses took her as a role model and started training to administer anesthesia. In 1875, St. John’s Hospital was established in Springfield, Illinois by the Nuns of the Third Order of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis. At St. John’s, surgeons taught nurses the administration of chloroform and ether, and many of the Franciscan Sisters were assigned as anesthetists throughout the Midwest. Nurse anesthesia then became a prevailing practice in Catholic hospitals.Today, the U.S. requires CRNAs to have a Master’s or Doctoral degree in nurse anesthesia. The Nursing Council on Accreditation has the responsibility of developing requirements for degree programs. In 1981, the Council on Accreditation developed guidelines for master’s degrees.
National CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists) Week timeline
Catherine S. Lawrence, who administered chloroform to injured soldiers during the Civil War, is born in 1820.
The second Battle of Bull Run takes place in 1862.
The Mt. Carmel Hospital in Pittsburg is established by the Sisters of St. Joseph, under the supervision of Mother Mary Bernard Sheridan who was the first nurse to specialize in anesthesia.
The National League for Nursing Education begins accreditation of nursing-related courses in 1938.
National CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists) Week FAQs
Are CRNA respected?
Overall, yes, they are. CRNAs are becoming more and more recognized, thus being able to enjoy a rewarding and respected career.
Are CRNAs anesthesiologists?
Anesthesiologists have a different job description from CRNAs. The latter are mostly trained in the administration of anesthetics for surgical procedures.
Do CRNAs wear white coats?
They do! They are sometimes even confused with doctors or medical students because they wear similar white coats.
How to Observe National CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists) Week
Celebrate a CRNA
It’s always a great idea to celebrate any and every Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist during National CRNA Week. They work hard and deserve to be recognized.
Research on anesthesiology
Take the time to educate yourself on the history and technicalities of anesthesiology. Studying can benefit you and show others that you care.
Join the conversation online
Join the conversation online with the #NationalCRNAWeek hashtag. Encourage others to join in too!
5 Facts About Certified Nurse Anesthetists
Women make up more of the numbers
Women make up 59.6% of the total number while men make up 40.4%.
They’re anesthetists in the U.S. military
CRNAs are the foremost providers of anesthetic care in the U.S. Military.
CRNAs are decently paid
CRNAs are paid an average annual mean salary of about 200,000 USD.
They deliver over 50 million anesthetics annually
CRNAs deliver over 50 million anesthetics to Americans annually.
There are 122 accredited nurse anesthesia programs
As of January 2022, there are 122 accredited nurse anesthesia programs in the U.S.
Why National CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists) Week is Important
CRNAs are frontline workers
Nurse anesthetists are frontline workers who give up a lot just to be out there contributing so much to the U.S. healthcare system. They deserve to be recognized for their achievements and contributions.
CRNAs make surgeons’ jobs easier
Many years ago, surgeons would have to do most of the work that surgeries entail, including proper anesthetic administration. However, with CRNAs, surgeons' jobs are made easier.
CRNAs are extremely meticulous
As people who do what they do, CRNAs are highly meticulous and organized. This makes them a little easier to deal with.
National CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists) Week dates