Howard University Hospital Celebrates National Nurse Anesthetists Week

WASHINGTON (Jan. 24) Howard University Hospital is celebrating National Nurse Anesthetists Week, a time used by anesthetists and other health care professional to focus and explain anesthesia and its role in medicine.

This year will mark the 12th National Nurse Anesthetists Week, which began in 1999.

For nearly 150 years, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) have been administering anesthesia across the country. This year’s theme is “Caring for America,” which emphasizes the objective of nurse anesthetist to guarantee all Americans access to quality anesthesia care. 

Charliese Muhammad, the senior certified registered nurse anesthetist at Howard University Hospital, said the week is important because it can be used to help clarify a lot of misperceptions people have about anesthesia.

“Many people are afraid of anesthesia, and I understand that,” said Muhammad, a nurse anesthetist for 35 years.  “So, we use this period to focus on those myths and rumors.  We want people to be more comfortable, because this is a vital part of health care.”

Millions of people in the United States undergo medical treatment that requires anesthesia yearly. Anesthesia is a safe means of relieving pain during most medical procedures when put in the hands of qualified and efficient health care professionals.

CRNA’s are advanced specialized graduate-level nurses who administer anesthesia in all types of surgical procedures, using all anesthesia techniques and practicing in every setting where anesthesia is required.

They work in hospital operating and delivery rooms, ambulatory surgical centers, the offices of dentists, podiatrists, ophthalmologists and plastic surgeons; pain management centers, and within the various government operated health services.

Statistics show that anesthesia is more effective than ever before. New monitoring technology, high professional standards and improved anesthetics have made the administering of anesthesia one of the safest elements of a surgical procedure.

Communication between you and your anesthesia professional is essential to the process and its safety. Here are some frequently asked questions to help you understand the process better.

Is Anesthesia Safe?
Statistics show that anesthesia today is safer and more effective than ever before. New monitoring technologies, improved anesthetics, advanced education for anesthesia providers and high professional standards have made the administration of the anesthesia one of the safest aspects in a surgical or obstetrical procedure.

Who Administers Anesthesia?
In the majority of cases, anesthesia is administered by a CRNA. CRNAs work with your surgeon, dentist, or podiatrist and may work with an anesthesiologist (physician anesthetist). CRNAs are advanced practice nurses with specialized graduate-level education in anesthesiology who administer anesthesia in all types of surgical cases, using all anesthetic techniques and practicing in every setting in which anesthesia is administered.

Will My Nurse Anesthetist Stay With Me Throughout My Surgery?
The nurse anesthetist stays with you for the entire procedure, constantly monitoring every important function of your body and individually modifying your anesthetic to ensure your maximum safety and comfort.

What Determines Which Type is Best for Me?
The anesthesia chosen for you is based on factors such as your physical condition, the nature of the procedure, and your reactions to medications.

The preoperative interview with your anesthesia professional is key in the selection of the best anesthetic for you. In particular, you must speak freely and frankly and follow instructions closely regarding your intake of medications, food, or beverages before your surgery.

For more information about National Nurse Anesthetists Week and the administration of anesthesia contact the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists at 847-692-7050 or

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