Celebrating National CRNA Week 2021

January 29, 2021

Bringing your child for a surgical or diagnostic procedure can be extremely worrisome, but an amazing team of qualified and caring providers awaits you at Texas Children’s Hospital. A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, or CRNA, is one of the many team members who works with the anesthesiologist, surgeon, radiologist, nurses, techs and many others to take care of your child.

A CRNA is an advanced practice nurse specializing in anesthesia. 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. After graduating, CRNAs are credentialed by a national board exam to autonomously practice anesthesia 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 consisting of a board-certified pediatric anesthesiologist and CRNA that will care for your child. The anesthesia team works together to safely care for all aspects of the perioperative process from pre-operative evaluations, administering anesthesia in the operating room and recovery in the post anesthesia care unit.

I personally chose to become a nurse anesthetist after meeting a CRNA shadowing oncologists in the operating room as part of a summer internship at a local cancer research lab. I had always envisioned growing up to be a pediatrician, but my experience motivated me to change my goal to become a CRNA. I completed my original degree in Biomedical Sciences, obtained my BSN and immediately started working in Texas Children's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). I absolutely loved working in the critical care environment and witnessing firsthand how resilient children are; I was proud, humbled and honored to be a PICU RN, but I had to complete my dream. I went to Pennsylvania to pursue my Master’s degree in Nurse Anesthesia where I had the opportunity to experience different hospital cultures than the Texas Medical Center and ultimately came back to Texas Children's as a CRNA in 2014.

Being a CRNA is so different from being an ICU nurse, but I love that I get to make difference in kids' and parents' lives every day. The relationships we form are different 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. In the PICU, relationships were built in the middle of the night, over long 12 hour shifts, and the comfort of truly getting to know a family and be the resource they need. I feel just as honored to take care of our pediatric patients for 12 minutes as I did for 12 hours. My patients’ excitement to blow up “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 your child stays healthy and has a safe experience in the perioperative process.

Jan. 24 – 30 marks 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.

Post by:

Megan Koudelka, MSN, CRNA