Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, or CRNAs, are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) with master's degrees whose primary job is to administer anesthesia for surgery and other medical procedures. These nurses work alongside anesthesiologists, surgeons, dentists, podiatrists, and other healthcare professionals to ensure the safe administration of anesthesia. In addition to this, they also monitor patients post-procedure while they're recovering from anesthesia. Nurse anesthetists should not be confused with anesthesiologists in that CRNAs are not medical doctors, but instead are advanced practice nurses with graduate degrees. Depending on the state a CRNA is practicing in, they may or may not be required to practice under the supervision of a physician.
What Are Some Nurse Anesthetist Duties?
Duties carried out by nurse anesthetists may include:
Conducting physical assessments and patient histories
Educating patients and loved ones prior to operations
Creating, implementing, and assessing an anesthetic plan of care
Discussing specifics about the anesthetics (i.e. desired effect, side effects, and possible adverse reactions)
Administering various forms of anesthetics (i.e. intravenous, spinal, sedation, local)
Maintaining anesthesia intraoperatively
Monitoring status of patients throughout procedures
Administering various medications, fluids, and other treatments to maintain patients' overall health and well-being
Monitoring vitals throughout the duration of procedures
Performing epidural, spinal, or nerve blocks
Collaborating with physicians and other healthcare professionals in order to administer the best care
Following strict infection control protocol
Assisting in discharging patients and providing them with the necessary education for follow-up anesthesia care
Where Do Nurse Anesthetists Work?
CRNAs typically find employment in the following settings:
Hospitals (obstetric care, operating rooms)
Plastic surgery centers
Pain management offices
Public health centers
Community health clinics
Mobile surgery centers
Outpatient care centers
US military medical facilities
How to Become a Nurse Anesthetist
If you're looking for a high paying career where employers are always in need of more workers, then perhaps a career as a nurse anesthetist may be for you. Becoming a nurse anesthetist will take many years of educational and clinical training, including a graduate degree in nursing. However, CRNAs enjoy a prestigious role and are one of the top-earning nursing specialties.
Step 1: Educational Requirements
Nurse anesthetists must complete the following steps to enter the specialty:
Earn a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university
Pass the NCLEX-RN pre-licensure exam to become an official RN
Enroll in and earn an MSN from an accredited nurse anesthesia program
Pass the National Certification Exam which is administered through the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA)
Recertification is required every two years with 40 hours of continuing education
Do Nurse Anesthetists Need an RN Degree?
Not only do nurse anesthetists need to hold an unencumbered RN license and have some experience in the field, but they must also have a master's degree from an accredited nurse anesthesia program in order to obtain the CRNA credential.
To be eligible to take the National Board of Certification & Recertification of Nurse Anesthetics nurse anesthetist certification exam you must have the following:
Hold a BSN degree from an accredited university
Possess an active and unencumbered RN license
Hold an MSN degree from an accredited nurse anesthetist program
Provide proof of educational credentials as well as clinical experience
Nurse Anesthetist Jobs, Salary & Employment
Because of their advanced education and training combined with the weight of their responsibilities, nurse anesthetists are well-compensated healthcare professionals that are always in high demand. The job outlook for nurse anesthetists is especially good since their services are of use to a wide variety of surgeons, dentists, obstetricians, and other healthcare professionals.
Job Description & Information
Essential Skills Needed - Ability to multitask while still paying close attention to detail, ability to work well under pressure, flexibility, strong communication skills, excellent critical thinking abilities, compassion, leadership qualities, and the ability to work collaboratively with all kinds of personality types
Job Outlook - Job prospects for nurse anesthetists are especially excellent. An aging population, increasing numbers of insured patients, a greater emphasis on preventative care, and new healthcare legislation have all led to more and more patients seeking and having access to medical care. It has been projected by the US Bureau of Labor Statistic that job openings for registered nurses will increase 16% between 2014 and 2024. It's reasonable to assume that a similar growth rate will occur in the nurse anesthetist sector.
What Is the Average Salary of a Nurse Anesthetist?
Nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are some of the highest paid of all the advanced practice nursing specialties. According PayScale, CRNA average salaries are around $146,439. Factors that will contribute to the amount a CRNA makes include the city and state which they're employed in, their credentials and education levels, years of clinical experience, and the specific organization that employs them. The vast majority will receive employment benefit packages which generally will include the likes of medical, dental, prescription, and vision insurance coverage. It's also commonplace for CRNAs to receive around two to four weeks of paid time off each year.