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Published on January 23, 2013

Nurse Anesthetists; Patient Care Extraordinaire

By Betty Bisgard, CRNA
Avera Sacred Heart Hospital

In recognition of their profession’s long history and enduring record of patient safety, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) in Yankton, SD, and across the country are celebrating the 14th annual National Nurse Anesthetists Week, January 20-26, 2013, with this year’s theme of “Promoting a Noble Profession.”

Established by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), National Nurse Anesthetists Week was created to encourage CRNAs to take the opportunity to educate the public about anesthesia safety, questions to ask prior to undergoing surgery and the benefits of receiving anesthesia care from nurse anesthetists.

One of the many rewards of being a nurse anesthetist is providing patients with the comfort of knowing that we will be by their side monitoring their vital signs and adjusting their anesthetics to ensure a pain free and safe anesthesia experience. National Nurse Anesthetists Week serves as an opportunity to inform the public exactly what CRNAs do and who we are.

Nurse anesthetists are advanced practice registered nurses who administer approximately 32 million anesthetics in the United States each year. CRNAs practice in every setting where anesthesia is available and deliver anesthetics to the vast majority of rural hospitals while offering obstetrical, surgical and trauma stabilization services to these undeserved areas. CRNAs have been the main provider of anesthesia care to U.S. service men and women on the front lines since World War I.

The South Dakota Association of Nurse Anesthetists is a statewide professional organization of CRNAs dedicated to providing quality anesthesia care to patients and promoting the profession of nurse anesthesia. CRNAs in South Dakota are the sole anesthesia providers in 76% of South Dakota’s hospitals and are the sole providers in 100% of South Dakotas rural hospitals.

We take pride in belonging to a profession that has been at the forefront of anesthesia patient safety for over 150 years. CRNAs play a key role in developing trends related to monitoring technology, anesthetic drugs and standards of care. In fact, due to continuing research and education, anesthesia today is nearly 50 times safer than it was 20 to 30 years ago.

Founded in 1931 and located in Park Ridge, Ill., the AANA is the professional organization for more than 90 percent of the nation’s CRNAs and student registered nurse anesthetists. To learn more about National Nurse Anesthetists Week or the AANA, visit www.aana.com.

At Avera Sacred Heart Hospital, nine full-time and two part-time CRNAs provide anesthesia in collaboration with two anesthesiologists.