Newswise — ROSEMONT, Ill. - The American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (AANA) proudly joins the nation in celebrating the dedication, compassion, and expertise of all nurses during National Nurses Week, May 6- 12, 2024. During this week, AANA recognizes the invaluable contributions of all nurses, particularly highlighting the essential role played by Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), also known as nurse anesthesiologists or nurse anesthetists, in delivering quality patient care.  

“This year's National Nurses Week theme, ‘Nurses Make the Difference,’ perfectly describes the value of CRNAs as indispensable members of the healthcare team,” said AANA President Dru Riddle, PhD, DNP, CRNA, FAAN. “The profession of nurse anesthesiology combines the compassionate, personalized approach to patient care inherent in nursing with advanced education and clinical training to administer anesthesia and monitor patients throughout surgical procedures.”  

As advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) specializing in anesthesia care, CRNAs safely administer more than 50 million anesthetics to patients each year in the U.S in every setting where anesthesia is delivered, including hospital surgical suites, offices of dentists, podiatrists, ophthalmologists, plastic surgeons, and pain management specialists — plus U.S. military, Public Health Services, and Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare facilities. CRNAs represent more than 80% of the anesthesia providers in rural counties where many rural hospitals are critical access hospitals that rely on independently practicing CRNAs for anesthesia care. Half of U.S. rural hospitals use a CRNA-only model for obstetric care, often saving patients long drives of 75 miles or more 

The education and experience required to become a CRNA is extensive, totaling a commitment of eight years or more in both clinical and educational experience. The minimum education required to become a CRNA includes a baccalaureate or graduate degree in nursing or other appropriate major, a license as a registered  nurse (RN) and/or APRN in the U.S. (or its territories), plus a one-year minimum of full-time work or part-time equivalent as a registered nurse in a critical care setting in the U.S., its territories, or a U.S. military hospital outside the United States. 

"CRNAs are the only class of anesthesia provider required to have a solid foundation in providing hands-on care for patients, before they even enter their education program," said Riddle. "They can then use their extensive expertise and compassion for patients, along with their education in administering anesthesia, to provide more holistic care for each patient. They really get to know their patients and help them throughout the entire process — before, during and after surgical procedures.” 

About National Nurses Week 

National Nurses Week honors the contributions and sacrifices of nurses. It is celebrated between May 6, National Nurses Day, and May 12, the birthdate of celebrated nurse Florence Nightingale. Sponsored and promoted by the American Nurses Association (ANA), the week-long event highlights the crucial contributions that nurses make to the community.