About the Profession

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) who have been providing quality anesthesia services in the United States for more than 150 years. The longevity and growth of the specialty can be attributed directly to nurse anesthetists’ commitment to excellence and patient safety, their willingness to provide services when and where needed, and the provision of those services at reasonable cost.

CRNAs safely administer over 50 million anesthetics to patients each year in the United States. As advanced practice registered nurses, CRNAs continue to be among the nation's most trusted professions according to Gallup as nurses have topped Gallup’s Honesty and Ethics list for 19 consecutive years. Nurse Anesthetists are ranked eighth in the 2021 U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Health Care Jobs” report.

Nurse Anesthetists practice in all 50 states and in all settings in which anesthesia is being delivered: traditional hospital surgical suites, office-based settings, ambulatory surgical centers, the military battlefield, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs health care facilities, and in pain management clinics.

Nurses have a long history of providing care to our nation’s military. Nurses first provided anesthesia care on the battlefields of the American Civil War. Nurse anesthetists became the predominant providers of anesthesia care to wounded soldiers on the front lines in every subsequent conflict from World War I to the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Today, CRNAs have full practice authority in every branch of the military and are the primary providers of anesthesia care to U.S. military personnel: soldiers, sailors, and airmen.

In 2010, the Institute of Medicine released a report on the Future of Nursing with recommendations that barriers should be removed to encourage full scope of practice opportunities for APRNs; that APRNs have increased education and training: and APRNs should be full partners in redesigning health care in the United States. To achieve some of those recommendations, as of January 2022, Nurse Anesthesia Programs have transitioned to the doctoral degree as entry to clinical practice.

CRNAs have a long history of healthcare advocacy and policy making. In 1986, legislation passed by Congress made nurse anesthetists the first nursing specialty to be allowed direct reimbursement rights for 100% of the prevailing physician rate under the Medicare program. Most recently, in 2020, the U. S. Congress passed legislation that included a nondiscrimination provision to prohibit health plans from discriminating against qualified licensed healthcare professionals, such as CRNAs and other non-physician providers, solely based on their licensure.