UPMC, Pitt Celebrate National Nurse Anesthetist Week

By Michael Neft, DNP, MHA,CRNA;  Shannon Askren, CRNA and Stephanie Stanley

Nurse anesthetists at UPMC and across the nation will celebrate National Nurse Anesthetist Week this week with events to educate the public about the important role they play in patient care. 

At UPMC, the celebration included the third annual “Souper Bowl” on  Jan. 22 at the McKee Place Family House, for which Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) prepared dinner and dessert for patients and their families. Also for the third year, UPMC CRNAs are collecting “Jeans for Teens” for donation to homeless teenagers. The jeans are being collected at UPMC Presbyterian, UPMC Passavant and UPMC Mercy hospitals until Jan. 26.

CRNAs practice in every setting in which anesthesia is delivered, such as traditional hospital surgical suites and obstetrical delivery rooms, as well as the offices of many health care providers like dentists and plastic surgeons.

Initially, nurse anesthesia education was just on-the-job training.  As the art and science of anesthesia has evolved, the educational process has evolved to formal instructional training in addition to a strong clinical component. Certificates in anesthesia nursing were granted by hospital-based nurse anesthesia programs. The first bachelor's degree in nurse anesthesia was granted in 1971, and by 1987, a master’s degree became the professional standard. Today, nurse anesthesia education offers doctoral degrees (Doctor of Nursing Practice, or DNP).

The University ofPittsburgh School of Nursing CRNA program was ranked #3 in the nation in the most recent edition of U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Graduate Schools.

For a more hands-on experience, there will be information tables outside the UPMC Presbyterian and UPMC Montefiore cafeterias. One of the available activities will give those interested a chance to intubate simulation mannequins. As a thank you and in celebration, surgical services colleagues will be served coffee and donuts on Jan. 25. UPMC nurse anesthesia representatives will be on hand at the Pine Richland High School career fair in February to promote awareness of this vital role in health care.