The importance of CRNAs to pediatric care

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The importance of CRNAs to pediatric care

March 03, 2021
From the March 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Before becoming certified to enter into practice, a CRNA must graduate with a minimum of a master’s degree from a nurse anesthesia educational program accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs. By 2025, all graduates must have obtained a doctoral degree to be eligible for the national certification exam. Nurse anesthesia educational programs are extremely rigorous and admission is highly competitive. Programs range in length from 24-51 months and must include a variety of clinical settings and experiences. Graduates of nurse anesthesia educational programs have an average of 9,369 hours of hands-on clinical anesthesia experience.

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CRNAs are unique among anesthesia providers in that we are required to have of one year of full-time experience as a registered nurse in a critical care setting before being accepted into a program. The average critical care experience of RNs entering nurse anesthesia educational programs is 2.9 years.

Ensuring access to care
CRNAs are cost-effective providers for healthcare systems and patients, and play a critical role in ensuring that families, especially in rural and underserved areas, have access to surgical care and trauma stabilization. CRNAs represent more than 80% of the anesthesia providers in rural counties. Many rural hospitals are critical access hospitals, which often rely solely on CRNAs.

According to a 2010 study published in the journal Nursing Economic$, CRNAs acting as the sole anesthesia provider are the most cost-effective model for anesthesia delivery, and there is no measurable difference in the quality of care between CRNAs and other anesthesia providers or by anesthesia delivery model.

Why we’re here
Some pediatric-focused CRNAs come to the profession with experience in neonatal or pediatric intensive care units, but many, like me, just enjoy working with pediatric patients.

Heather J. Rankin
There are days that you laugh with your patients, and there are days that you cry with the patients and families. One of the things that is just amazing about the children who come to the OR is how strong they are, even when they are facing horrible diseases like cancer. They are so resilient, and it is just amazing to see them. And to know that I’m helping a child get better or through a procedure requiring anesthesia brings me great satisfaction and confirmation that I chose an amazing profession.

About the author: Heather J. Rankin, DNP, MBA, CRNA, has been a pediatric CRNA for 15 years and is former president of the Alabama Association of Nurse Anesthetists.
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