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January 23rd to 29th, 2023 is National CRNA Recognition Week! UNC Department of Anesthesiology is thrilled to celebrate our 70+ CRNAs who are critical members of UNC Health’s peri-operative frontline. Nurse anesthesiology traces its origins to the 1860s, when nurses played a significant role in stabilizing pain in wounded soldiers during the Civil War. Today, almost 60,000* CRNAs safely administer more than 50 million anesthetics to patients each year across the U.S.  Nurse anesthetists represent more than 80% of the anesthesia providers in rural counties, where critical access hospitals often rely on independently practicing CRNAs for anesthesia care.

UNC Anesthesiology Assistant Chief CRNA Aaron Lemmon stated: “While it is important to celebrate this highly respected profession during this week, we would be remiss if we did not recognize the hard work and dedication that this group provides day in and day out throughout the year. UNC, like many other healthcare facilities across the country, is currently battling significant staffing shortages. Despite this, [UNC Health]’s CRNAs have remained flexible provide countless hours of overtime in an effort to keep the operating rooms running across our many locations. This dedication to patient care ensures that the citizens of North Carolina continue to have access to the care that they so desperately need. It has always been an honor of mine to work at UNC as a CRNA, as well as a member of this leadership team. I am humbled by how much the [CRNA] team I work with gives of themselves to care for their patients.”

UNC Anesthesiology Vice Chair of Clinical Operations Meena Bhatia, MD, FASA, noted: “At UNC, our mission is to provide the highest standard of perioperative care to the people of the State of North Carolina.  Together with the help of our faculty, resident physicians, APPs, CRNAs, anesthesia techs, and countless administrative support staff, we are able to offer the highest quality of care. As we celebrate National CRNA Recognition Week, UNC Anesthesiology pauses to note its gratitude for the exceptional service and care our CRNAs provide to our patients, for the knowledge and experience they provide to our trainees, and the commitment and leadership they provide to the institution. Thank you all for everything you do!”

UNC Anesthesiology Department Chair David Zvara, MD, FASA, added: “Our CRNAs are an exceptional group of professionals working at the front line of healthcare. This care spans a wide variety of patient need. From routine to the most complex imaginable, and our CRNAs are right there! I could not be more grateful for our team. This year has tested all of us in unimaginable and unexpected ways. The crisis in healthcare workforce permeates all our professions and platforms of care.  Who would have guessed that the post-acute pandemic would be harder than the pandemic itself?  One thing I know, however, is that if I or a family member need surgery, I would welcome our CRNAs in that care.  Any day.  Any time. Let’s celebrate our great people!”

To celebrate its hardworking CRNAs during National CRNA Recognition Week this year, UNC Department of Anesthesiology is hosting its annual CRNA breakfast and loading the CRNA team up on Tuesday Cookie Day on Tuesday and Taco Thursday. The Department will also sponsor a weekend CRNA night out to wrap up 2023 National CRNA Recognition Week.


*American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology