By Debra Wood, RN, contributor Jan 25, 2021
Administering anesthesia to millions of people each year,
certified registered nurse anesthetists are celebrating CRNA Week 2021, which
takes place January 24-30. This year’s theme, “Experts you trust. Care you can
count on,” calls attention to the safe, quality care provided by thousands of nurse
anesthetists practicing in the United States.
Staff Care, a
leading locum tenens agency, and their staffing partner Merritt Hawkins, a permanent placement
firm for physicians and advanced practitioners, are pleased to honor CRNAs
during this national week of celebration.
“Being a CRNA is a challenging job, and it’s very rewarding
to help people through vulnerable times in their lives,” said Mark Swenson, a
CRNA at an ambulatory surgery center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and a
traveler with Staff Care. “We deliver good care, and do a lot of critical
thinking and trouble shooting.”
Shaun Rudi, CRNA, based in Florida and on assignment with
Staff Care, said he enjoys establishing a rapport and “connecting with my
patients” during pre-op and administering the analgesia.
“It’s our job to mitigate the fear,” Rudi said. “I like how
collaborative anesthesia is with other facets of the surgical team.”
A history of nurse
The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) reports
nurses began providing anesthesia more than a century ago, dating back to the
Civil War. Charles Mayo, MD, co-founder of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester,
Minnesota, dubbed Alice Magaw, a nurse anesthetist at the clinic, the “Mother
of Anesthesia.” She safely delivered 14,000 anesthetics without any of her
Mayo patients dying.
Certification of nurse anesthetists began in 1956, according
CRNAs deliver anesthesia in hospitals, surgery and endoscopy
centers, and specialty physician offices. Many belong to a group practice. CRNAs
also practice in the military.
“Anesthesia is a dynamic time physiologically, so you have
to critically think in a fast-paced and critical environment,” Swenson said.
In many states, CRNAs practice with physician supervision,
but AANA reports 19 states have opted out of the federal physician-supervision
requirement. Many CRNAs prefer to practice in states without the supervision.
Matthew Nichols, senior director of recruiting at AMN
Leadership Solutions, Merritt Hawkins, explained that some CRNAs prefer
placements in rural communities offering greater autonomy.
CRNA jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic
At the start of the pandemic, hospitals cancelled elective
surgeries and furloughed CRNAs for several weeks. Merritt Hawkins was able to
place some of those CRNAs in other positions, Nichols said.
Swenson and Rudi were both furloughed and are now back to
handling anesthesia on surgical cases. Rudi traveled to Boston, at the time a
COVID-19 hot spot, providing anesthesia care in surgical cases.
Other CRNAs were reassigned to intensive care units to help
with managing the onslaught of critically ill COVID-19 patients.
As facilities gear up to overcome delays in elective
procedures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, nurse anesthetists remain essential
in helping patients receive needed care, and jobs are plentiful.
“Demand has gone up significantly,” Nichols said. “In the
last month or so, people have a brighter outlook with the vaccine coming and a
relaxation of the lockdown.”
Merritt Hawkins offers a variety of permanent CRNA job
opportunities. Employers pay any fees associated with a placement; CRNAs should
never have to pay.
“We have expertise about the specialty and what our
employers are looking for,” Nichols said.
Although opportunities for full-time CRNA positions exist
throughout the country, Nichols said most CRNAs, typically, do not want to move
great distances, preferring to stay in familiar communities or regions.
“We’re seeing a surge of requests for recruitment,” Nichols
said. “[CRNAs] are hugely in demand.”
Increased demand creates opportunities
A strong need for CRNAs creates opportunities for these advanced
practice nurses, including permanent and locum
“It’s nice to have some supplemental income, and it’s also
nice to go to other places and see what techniques and medications are being
used,” said Swenson, explaining that it always beneficial to practice in a
facility with a case mix different than at his full-time job. “It’s good to
talk with other CRNAs in a different facility, a different city or state. The
networking and getting to know people is fun.”
Swenson also praised Staff Care’s ability to find him the
locations and case mix he wants.
Rudi, who has been traveling for four years, added that
“every place has its own vibe or flow. CRNA locums have to be flexible and be
ready to change gears.”
“You never know what your day is going to be like as a
locums,” Rudi said. “It’s interesting.”
Rudi added that locum travel with Staff Care has offered
opportunities to live in places he would like to explore.
“You live in a place and get to know the really good places,”
said Rudi. “It’s a longer version than a vacation.”
STAFF CARE has locum
tenens opportunities for physicians, CRNAs and other advanced practitioners
throughout the U.S.
BROWSE CRNA JOBS NOW