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  • Laura L. Wiggins, DNP, CRNA

Rich History Defines CRNAs, America’s Original Anesthesia Experts

By Laura Wiggins, DNP, CRNA

🔹🔹🔹National CRNA Week debuted as an annual commemoration in 2000 as a way to celebrate our nation’s Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists and nurse anesthesia students. But the history of our profession stretches back generations.

Nurse anesthesiology traces its origins to 1863, when nurses eased the suffering of wounded soldiers in the Civil War. Since then, nurse anesthetists have been the main providers of anesthesia care to U.S. military personnel on the front lines and remain the primary anesthesia providers in austere combat theaters.

Today, there are nearly 66,000 CRNAs and nurse anesthesia students nationwide, including more than 3,700 in Pennsylvania.

🔹In times of transition and strife, people look to nurses—and, more specifically, highly trained CRNAs—to bridge the gaps of care, offer compassion to those who need help, and ensure the safety of patients during their most vulnerable times. You bring the art and science to the practice of anesthesia, and the work you do to serve our profession so honorably and your patients so faithfully ultimately enhances the patient’s experience.

🚧 In today’s environment, with health-care overhauls, organizational mergers and changes, redesigned care systems, and fluctuating payment models and costs, patients can rely on CRNAs who demonstrate as the foundation of their practice these core values—integrity, accountability, trustworthiness, and community service. You should be proud of what you do.

As we transition through a global economic crunch and continue to emerge from the global pandemic, enhancing our personal emotional intelligence and well-being is becoming an increasingly essential component of our practice. Having self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, motivation, and empowerment skills, combined with these other core values, will only strengthen our ability to care more compassionately for our patients.

I am confident in the direction of our association and profession. CRNAs are leaders. We have been there from the beginning, as military necessities on the front lines of our nation’s wars, and we continue to build the teams necessary to serve, because we have the backbone, drive, and fortitude to fight, protect, and defend our patients, our communities, and our nation.

🩺 Looking back at the last 160 years, CRNA history is nursing history. It’s women’s history. It’s our nation’s history. So, let’s celebrate our rich past, but let’s not overlook our promising future. With your passion and commitment to our profession, America’s original anesthesia experts will continue to build trust, show compassion, provide stability, and create hope in the health-care system adjusting, adapting, and overcoming with finesse and grace.

😷 Thank you for all you do—and happy CRNA Week, Pa.! PANA would love to join in YOUR celebration of our profession, so if you're on social media, you can tag @panacrna on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


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