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WANA | Washington Association of Nurse Anesthetists has promoted best practices in the field of anesthesia and provided members with exceptional training and career opportunities while elevating issues of critical concern to the delivery of healthcare in the state of Washington.
Frequently Asked Questions
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) provide anesthesia 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. Regardless of whether their educational background is in nursing or medicine, all anesthesia professionals give anesthesia the same way.
As advanced practice nurses, CRNAs practice with a high degree of autonomy and professional respect. They carry a heavy load of responsibility and are compensated accordingly.
CRNAs practice in every setting in which anesthesia is delivered: traditional hospital surgical suites and obstetrical delivery rooms; critical access hospitals; ambulatory surgical centers; the offices of dentists, podiatrists, ophthalmologists, plastic surgeons and pain management specialists; and U.S. military, Public Health Services, and Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare facilities.
It takes a minimum of 7-8.5 calendar years of education and experience to prepare a CRNA. Education and experience required to become a CRNA include:
- A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or other appropriate baccalaureate degree.
- An unencumbered license as a registered professional nurse and/or APRN in the United States or its territories.
- At least one year of experience as a Registered Nurse in an intensive care setting. The average experience of RNs entering nurse anesthesia educational programs is 2.9 years.
- Graduation with a minimum of a master’s degree from a nurse anesthesia educational program accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA). As of August 2019, there were 121 accredited nurse anesthesia programs in the United States and Puerto Rico, using more than 1,870 active clinical sites; 91 nurse anesthesia programs are approved to award doctoral degrees for entry into practice.
- Beginning January 1, 2022, all students matriculating into an accredited program must be enrolled in a doctoral program.
- Nurse anesthesia programs range from 24-51 months, depending on university requirements. Programs include clinical settings and experiences. Graduates of nurse anesthesia educational programs have an average of 9,369 hours of clinical experience.
- Before they can become CRNAs, graduates of nurse anesthesia educational programs must pass the National Certification Examination.
Nurse anesthetists have been the main providers of anesthesia care to U.S. military men and women on the front lines since WWI, including current conflicts in the Middle East. Nurses first provided anesthesia to wounded soldiers during the Civil War.
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 control escalating healthcare costs.
The Continued Professional Certification (CPC) Program, which replaced the former recertification program, focuses on lifelong learning and is based on eight-year periods comprised of two four-year cycles. Each four-year cycle has a set of components that include:
- 60 Class A credits (assessed continuing education)
- 40 Class B credits (professional activities)
- Four Core Modules (current literature and evidence-based knowledge; also count as Class A credits)
- A 2-year Check-in at the midpoint of each four-year cycle
- Confirm current state licensure and attest to engagement in anesthesia practice, and
The CPC Assessment component is only required in the second 4-year cycle and can be taken during any testing windows in that second cycle. For complete information on all components of the CPC Program, click the button below.
In the Spring of 1936, Spokane hospital representatives Elizabeth Scully, June Roberts, Alice Claude and Mary Leonard met at a luncheon in the Davenport Hotel. Their purpose was to form plans for the creation of an association for Nurse Anesthetists.
A few short years later, on 20 February 1939, the Washington Association of Nurse Anesthetists (WANA) was organized. Their first meeting occurred at the Davenport Hotel in May 1940.
June Roberts was a charter member and first president of WANA. Her primary interest was to promote and encourage nurse anesthetist education. During her time as president of WANA, she increased anesthetist enrollment from two students per year to fourteen. June’s enthusiasm and assiduous efforts in the school of anesthesia was responsible for obtaining full accreditation from the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists in 1953. The following year, she retired after three decades as Director of Anesthesia at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane.
Did You Know?
CRNAs at a Glance
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists play a vital role in Washington’s Health.
Nurse anesthetists have been providing anesthesia care to patients in the United States for more than 150 years. The CRNA credential came into existence in 1956 and, in 1986, CRNAs became the first nursing specialty accorded direct reimbursement rights from Medicare.
CRNAs are anesthesia professionals who safely administer more than 50 million anesthetics to patients each year in the United States.
CRNAs represent more than 80% of the anesthesia providers in rural counties. Many rural hospitals are critical access hospitals, which often rely on independently practicing CRNAs for anesthesia care. Half of U.S. rural hospitals use a CRNA-only model for obstetric care, and CRNAs safely deliver pain management care, particularly where there are no physician providers available, saving patients long drives of 75 miles or more.
Numerous peer-reviewed studies have shown that CRNAs are safe, high quality and cost-effective anesthesia professionals who should practice to the full extent of their education and abilities.
As advanced practice registered nurses, CRNAs practice with a high degree of autonomy and professional respect. CRNAs are qualified to make independent judgments regarding all aspects of anesthesia care based on their education, licensure, and certification.
CRNAs practice in every setting in which anesthesia is delivered: traditional hospital surgical suites and obstetrical delivery rooms; critical access hospitals; ambulatory surgical centers; ketamine clinics; the offices of dentists, podiatrists, ophthalmologists, plastic surgeons, and pain management specialists; and U.S. military, Public Health Services, and Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare facilities.
Nurses first provided anesthesia on the battlefields of the American Civil War. During World War I, nurse anesthetists became the predominant providers of anesthesia care to wounded soldiers on the front lines. Today, CRNAs have full practice authority in every branch of the military.
The CRNA model, where anesthesia delivery is staffed and directed by CRNAs avoids duplication of services, promotes efficient utilization of anesthesia providers, and reduces cost.
Legislation passed by Congress in 1986 made nurse anesthetists the first nursing specialty to be accorded direct reimbursement rights under the Medicare program and CRNAs have billed Medicare directly for 100% of the physician fee schedule amount for services.
In 2001, CMS changed the federal physician supervision rule for nurse anesthetists to allow state governors to opt-out of this facility reimbursement requirement.
To date, 19 states and Guam have opted out of the federal physician supervision requirement.