With all of the different specialties in healthcare, some get overlooked or may be under the radar. An uncommon and often disregarded career choice in healthcare is that of a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist or a Doctorate of Nurse Anesthesia Practice. Although not many people know about these healthcare careers, they play a vital role within the healthcare team. This field is growing rapidly and the likelihood of coming into contact with a nurse anesthetist during a hospital stay is on the rise. Knowing the history, education, responsibilities, and career outlook for a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist or a Doctorate of Nurse Anesthesia Practice can aide in understanding their very specific role in the care of patients.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists and Doctorate of Nurse Anesthesia Practice, also known as CRNAs and DNAPs, first appeared in healthcare about one-hundred and fifty years ago. The first official CRNA in the United States was Sister Mary Bernard, who worked for St. Vincent Hospital in 1877. St. Vincent Hospital, known for being a faith based hospital, was the first to provide schooling and education for CRNAs in 1909. The course only lasted about seven months. (AANA 2009), (History of Nurse Anesthesia Practice. 2010, May), (Thatcher, V.S. 1953).
Another very important woman in history for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists was Alice Magaw. Her achievements opened the doors to nurse anesthetists. She paved the road for innovation and helped evolve the nurse’s role in anesthesia. Although she had many achievements, her chief accomplishment was her mastery of the open-drop inhalation anesthesia technique that used chloroform and ether as the sedative. For this great achievement she was given the title of “Mother of Anesthesia.” She was truly a revolutionist for the practice of anesthesia. From the early 1900’s onward nurse anesthesia has become increasingly popular within healthcare. (History of Nurse Anesthesia Practice. 2010, May), (Koch, E., Downey, P., Kelly, J. W., & Wilson, W. 2001).
The education for CRNAs has always been an important factor in this career choice. The difference in the educational requirements from 1909 have changed tremendously. In 1909, the average nurse anesthetist could become a CRNA in only seven months. The average schooling as of 2014 is about two to four years in addition to obtaining a bachelor degree as a registered nurse. (History of Nurse Anesthesia Practice. 2010, May).
The requirement for education is on the rise. A lot of hospitals are pushing their anesthetists to obtain a doctorate in the field instead of just a masters; this is the difference between a DNAP and CRNA. Anesthesia is a very high risk career in the medical scene, so the proper education is vital to having a successful career. These programs are available in most states. Even though the education for Nurse Anesthetists is on the rise, there are still a few states that have yet to adopt a CRNA or DNAP...