LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — This week, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, or CRNAs, are being celebrated across the country for National CRNA Week.
CRNAs are trained to give anesthesia to patients in all settings, including elective surgeries and procedures.
When the pandemic hit, they were specifically called to the ICUs. That's because they're experts at putting patients on ventilators, which is an unfortunate necessity for some battling COVID-19.
"We're counted on to get breathing tubes in place quickly and efficiently and safely," nurse anesthetist and president-elect of KYANA, Jennifer Wiseman MSN, APRN, CRNA, said. "We are the people that do this every day, Covid or not, this is what we do."
CRNAs were also asked to train ICU nurses on how to care for patients who had to lay on their stomachs, which is a position recommended for some with COVID-19. If it isn't done correctly, there is a risk of nerve injury.
"They're not used to putting people on their bellies, so it was nice to be able to step up and help in that way," Wiseman said.
CRNAs require about eight to nine years of education and training. They have a baccalaureate degree in nursing and spend a minimum of two years in the ICU taking care of critically ill patients. Then, they go to a credentialed anesthetic program, which is now a doctorate degree. Lastly, they have to pass a national board certification exam before entering clinical practice.