Campaign Sheds Light on Medical Professionals Behind the Mask

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 General News
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House, Senate Resolutions Honor Nurse Anesthetists in Pa.

HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 23, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania's 3,000-plus certified registered nurse anesthetists

(CRNAs) are removing their surgical masks as part of a month-long campaign to give residents and patients a better look at the face of anesthesia care in the commonwealth.

CRNAs provide hands-on anesthesia care for millions of patients each year, operating in every setting where anesthesia is administered, including: hospital operating and delivery rooms; ambulatory surgical centers; the offices of dentists, podiatrists, ophthalmologists, and plastic surgeons; pain management centers and more.

As a result, both the state Senate and House this week passed separate resolutions --- sponsored by Sen. John R. Gordner (R-Columbia) and Rep. Stephen Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware), respectively --- that recognize CRNAs for their expert clinical care. CRNAs deliver the same safe, high-quality anesthesia care as other anesthesia professionals but at a lower cost, helping to control the nation's rising health-care costs.

The resolutions mark Jan. 21-27 as "Nurse Anesthetists Week" in Pennsylvania, which coincides with National CRNA Week as a way to remind residents that no matter the procedure, nurse anesthetists stay by a patient's side for every breath, every heartbeat, every second.

"CRNAs are the best kept secret in health care. We are unique as anesthesia providers because we care for one patient at a time," said Jodie Szlachta, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists. "CRNAs provide routine anesthesia care and also quickly respond to patient changes and emergencies during surgical and medical procedures. The vigilant care delivered by CRNAs ensures patients a safe intraoperative course. However, many patients are not aware of us and may not remember that it was a CRNA that cared for them throughout their procedure."

The role CRNAs play in Pennsylvania's and the nation's health-care system is expansive.

Rural communites rely on CRNAs. These professionals are the primary providers of anesthesia care in rural America, enabling health-care facilities in these medically underserved areas to offer obstetrical, surgical, pain management and trauma stabilization services. In some states, CRNAs are the sole providers in nearly 100 percent of the rural hospitals. Without these advanced practice nurses, some 1,500 facilities would not be able to maintain these services, forcing many rural Americans to travel long distances for such services.

The military relies on CRNAs. Nurse anesthetists have been the main providers of anesthesia care to U.S. military personnel on the front lines since World War I. Nurses first provided anesthesia to wounded soldiers during the Civil War, a history that stretches 150 years. Today, CRNAs remain the primary anesthesia providers in austere combat theaters.

Beyond advanced degrees, national certification and continuing education, the average nurse anesthetist completes 9,000 clinical hours of total training. That high level of education and clinical experience contributes to CRNA's capable, vigilant care of patients. Numerous studies show there is no statistical difference in patient outcomes when a nurse anesthetist provides treatment.

Pennsylvania is among the top draws for CRNA students across the United States, with 12 highly rated nurse anesthetist programs spread out across the commonwealth.

For more information about CRNAs in Pennsylvania, visit or follow along on social media via Twitter at @PANACRNA or on Facebook at

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SOURCE Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists

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