Kathryn Williams, CRNA, PS
Kathryn has been a Nurse Anesthetist since 1987. She cherishes spending time with her two children and many pets. She plays both the violin and the clarinet and enjoys outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, and swimming. Kathryn also enjoys watching and participating in most team sports and is very proud to be a Washington Native.

Certified registered nurse anesthetist answers your questions

Is anesthesia safe?

Statistics show that anesthesia today is safer and more effective than ever before. New technologies, extensive specialty training and high professional standards have made the administration of anesthesia one of the safest aspects of a surgical or obstetrical procedure.

Who administers anesthesia?

In the majority of cases, anesthesia is administered by a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). CRNAs work with your surgeon, dentist or podiatrist, and may work with an anesthesiologist (physician anesthetist). CRNAs are advanced practice nurses with specialized graduate-level education in anesthesiology. For more than 100 years, nurse anesthetists have been administering anesthesia in all types of surgical cases, using all anesthetic techniques and practicing in every setting in which anesthesia is administered.

Education and experience required to become a CRNA includes:

  • A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or other appropriate baccalaureate degree.
  • Hold a current license as a registered nurse.
  • At least one year's experience in an acute care nursing setting.
  • Graduate from an accredited school of nurse anesthesia educational program ranging from 24-36 months, depending upon university requirements. These programs offer a graduate degree and include clinical training in university-based or large community hospitals.
  • Pass a national certification examination following graduation, and complete a continuing education and recertification program every two years thereafter.
Will a nurse anesthetist stay with me throughout my surgery?

The nurse anesthetist stays with you for the entire procedure, constantly monitoring every important function of your body and individually modifying your anesthetic to ensure your maximum safety and comfort.

Are there different types of anesthesia?

There are three basic types of anesthesia: general anesthesia produces a loss of sensation throughout the entire body; regional anesthesia produces a loss of sensation to a specific region of the body; and local anesthesia produces a loss of sensation to a small, specific area of the body.

What determines which type of anesthesia is best for me?

The anesthesia chosen for you is based on factors such as your physical condition, the nature of the surgery and your reactions to medications.

The pre-operative interview with your anesthesia provider is key in the selection of the best anesthetic for you. In particular, you must speak freely and frankly and follow instructions closely regarding your intake of medications, food or beverages before your surgery.

Do different types of patients require different types of anesthesia?

Many factors go into determining the best anesthetic and administration technique for each person. Pregnant patients, children, older adults and patients with hereditary disorders such as diabetes or sickle cell anemia all require special consideration. Even lifestyle choices, such as tobacco and alcohol use, can influence the anesthesia selection process.

Anesthesia - Freedom from Pain

Each year, more than 26 million people in the United States undergo some form of medical treatment requiring anesthesia. Anesthesia, in the hands of qualified professionals like certified registered nurse anesthetists, is a safe and effective means of alleviating pain during nearly every type of medical procedure.

Anesthesia care is not confined to surgery alone. The process also refers to activities that take place both before and after an anesthetic is given.

Communication - Before and After Surgery

Communication and cooperation between you and your anesthesia provider are essential to the anesthesia process and its safety.

Before surgery, a pre-operative interview with your nurse anesthetist provides valuable information that helps determine your care. It is equally important to communicate with your anesthesia provider after your surgery. The medications you have been given can remain in your body for 24 hours or more after they have been administered, and you won't be "back to your old self" until the anesthetic has been totally eliminated.

Of course, you should never hesitate to ask your nurse anesthetist any questions you might have - before or after your anesthesia is administered. To help you understand the process better, we have prepared this brochure to answer some of the most common questions patients have about anesthesia.

Nurse Anesthetists at a Glance

Nurse anesthetists have been providing anesthesia care in the United States for over 100 years. Approximately 95% of this country's nurse anesthetists are members of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA).

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are anesthesia specialists who administer approximate!, 65% of the 26 million anesthetics given to patients each year in the United States.

CRNAs are the sole anesthesia providers in nearly 50% of all hospitals and more than 65% of rural hospitals in the United States, affording these medical facilities obstetrical, surgical, and trauma stabilization capabilities.

CRNAs provide anesthetics to patients in collaboration with surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists, podiatrists and other qualified healthcare professionals. When anesthesia is administered by a nurse anesthetist, it is recognized as the practice of nursing; when administered by an anesthesiologist, it is recognized as the practice of medicine.

CRNAs practice in every setting in which anesthesia is delivered: traditional hospital surgical suites and obstetrical delivery rooms; the offices of dentists, podiatrists, ophthalmologists, and plastic surgeons; ambulatory surgical centers; and U.S. Military, Public Health Services and Veterans Administration medical facilities.

Managed care plans recognize CRNAs for providing high-quality anesthesia care with reduced expense to patients and insurance companies. The cost-efficiency of CRNAs helps keep escalating medical costs down.

Legislation passed by Congress in 1986 made nurse anesthetists the first nursing specialty to be accorded direct reimbursement rights under the Medicare program.

A total of 42% of the nation's 27,000 CRNAs are men, versus approximately 5 percent in the nursing profession as a whole.

American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
222 South Prospect Avenue, Park Ridge, Illinois 60068-4001
Phone (847) 692-7050 Fax (847) 692-6968