Sunday, January 25, 2009

National Nurse Anesthetist Week, Jan 25-31

My husband works as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. The question he gets asked the most is, "What is the difference between a CRNA and an Anesthesiologist?"

Wayne Johnston, CRNA, says it best:

In a convergence unique in all of Medicine, both doctors and nurses practice anesthesia, providing the same service side by side -- with, of course, differences. Such as cost -- eleven CRNAs can be trained for the price of one anesthesiologist. (Average cost: $635,000 for a doc [largely tax-subsidized], versus $59,000 for a CRNA [mostly self-pay]) CRNAs earn one quarter to one third the income of their physician counterparts.

Yet, in anesthesia training, both groups receive education that is essentially equivalent, often attending class and clinical side by side. Both types bring their respective backgrounds to the specialty and both end up full-fledged independent anesthesia providers. They may work together, or they may choose to work solo. In the operating room environment, CRNAs and anesthesiologists are functional equivalents.

CRNAs provide anesthetics to patients in collaboration with surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists, podiatrists, and other qualified healthcare professionals. When anesthesia is provided 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.

Both practice anesthesia so as to meet the same high standard of care.

All kinds of patients, one high standard of care."

My husband became a CRNA in 2002, after completing a 27 month graduate program in Nurse Anesthesia. He won the Agatha Hodgins award for Outstanding Student Anesthetist, graduating at the top of his class.

Currently, he works for a physician group, doing mostly general surgery and OB cases.

He treats each patient as if they were his WIFE, or MOTHER or DAUGHTER, FATHER, SON. He goes out of his way to spend time with his patients and their family when they are facing surgery or getting ready to have a baby. Many times they have questions or concerns that haven't been addressed. If they have a question, he will make sure it is thoroughly answered. He often will use his medical texts to show the patient exactly what will be happening. Because of his outstanding care, he often gets notes and cards and even gifts from patients who recognize and appreciate his above and beyond approach to anesthesia. It isn't surprising that he is requested by repeat OB patients. He is requested often by his own colleagues when they need surgery and specifically ask for him to be on their case. He will go in on his day off if he is requested by a fellow nurse who is having surgery or a scheduled c-section. He has even been known to bring them a beautiful bouquet of flowers, and although he writes "from the Anesthesia Department" on the card, he is the one who selects, orders, pays for and delivers them. He is known for his compassionate care. He also helps future CRNA's by teaching at a local weekend academy for high-schoolers interested in medical careers. He enjoys working in medicine and he loves his job, which is more than a job, it is a ministry!

I remember one time, when the boys were little, we would come to the hospital and meet him for lunch. One time, we had just sat down and started to eat when his pager went off. He had to go to a case, without even having a chance to eat. As he got up and left the room, his scrub coat was sort of puffing up with air and it looked almost like a cape. Being that the boys at the time were big into super heros, one of them remarked as they watched their daddy exit the cafeteria, "He looks just like Superman!" Yes, he really does.

For more information about a career in Nurse Anesthesia, go to


Moody said...

That's really interesting. He sounds incredible and of course "super"! I once had to have a d&c after a miscarriage, and I remember the anesthetist being so kind and caring (I don't think he was a crna though) He was the one I remembered most from that experience and your husband sounds even more kind and caring. If I ever need anesthesia I may seriously consider heading up there! is such a funny name--but memorable!

Moody said...

Check out the cake wrecks blog she has a CRNA cake wreck up today!