In honor of CRNA week, Megan Sheneman shares why she chose to become a nurse anesthetist.
Fast fact: As advanced practice registered nurses, certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) have been providing anesthesia care to patients in the United States for more than 150 years. A CRNA is one of the many team members who works with a multidisciplinary team of anesthesiologists, surgeons, radiologists, nurses, techs and many others to take care of children during surgical and diagnostic procedures at Texas Children’s Hospital.
Nurse anesthetists have been providing anesthesia since 1877, and the first formal training program for nurse anesthetists was founded in 1915. Prior to applying to a graduate program in nurse anesthesia, a registered nurse must have a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), at least two years of experience in critical care (ICU) or emergency care nursing, and specialty certifications. As of 2020, all CRNA programs are doctorate level programs spanning three years of didactic (classroom) and clinical experience. The average number of clinical hours a CRNA completes in school is 2,604 over 36-51 months.
After graduating from an accredited program, CRNAs are credentialed by a national board exam to practice anesthesia autonomously and are licensed by their state board of nursing as advanced practice providers. A CRNA’s scope of practice depends on the state and clinical environment; at Texas Children’s, we have an anesthesia care team that includes board-certified pediatric anesthesiologists and CRNAs who will care for your child. The anesthesia team works together to provide care in all aspects of the perioperative process, from pre-operative evaluations, administering anesthesia in the operating room, and recovery in the post anesthesia care unit.
There are currently 34 CRNAs at Texas Children’s Hospital, with 11 of our CRNAs specializing in cardiovascular anesthesia and 23 CRNAs in pediatric general anesthesia. The general division CRNAs cover Texas Children’s Main Campus as well as our community hospitals, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands. Seven of our CRNAs were former ICU nurses at Texas Children’s Hospital and returned to practice pediatric anesthesia. CRNAs not only work in the operating rooms providing anesthesia for surgeries, but also in other areas of the hospital, providing sedation for MRI, CT, interventional radiology, and GI procedures. Our CRNAs have participated in medical mission trips all over the world, including Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Philippines, Bolivia, India, Madagascar, and Cameroon.
As a CRNA, I love that I get to make difference in children’s and parents’ lives every day. The relationship I form with parents is important, as I have a limited amount of time to meet, complete a history, consent and gain the trust of a parent before their child goes back to the operating room. My patients’ excitement to blow up the “anesthesia balloon” or play the “anesthesia machine video game” as we sing songs while they drift off to sleep is the highlight of my day. Being able to care for my patients while we help heal whatever issue they might have, then reuniting them safely with their parents, will always bring a smile to my face. Every team member at Texas Children’s, including CRNAs, plays a vital role in making sure children stay healthy and have a safe experience in the perioperative process.
Jan. 23 – 29 marked this year’s National CRNA Week, and I’m so proud to celebrate with my colleagues. To learn more about anesthesiology, perioperative and pain medicine at Texas Children’s, click here.
About Megan K. Sheneman, APRN, CRNA