Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

Thanks to the wonderful powers of anesthesia, pain-free surgery is now enjoyed by millions of people each year. Did you know that Nurse Anesthetists are the world’s first healthcare providers who specialize in anesthesia? The profession has been around since the 19th century. During the Civil War, nurses gave anesthesia to ease the pain of injured soldiers.

In our modern times, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are experts who are well skilled in advanced practice nursing and enjoy plenty of professional autonomy and respect from their colleagues.

What is a Nurse Anesthetist?

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) administer anesthetics to patients. These professionals work in every nursing practice environment, and for every kind of medical procedure or surgery. Nurse Anesthetists are the sole anesthesia providers working in almost all rural hospitals, as well as being the main anesthesia provider to Americans serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

CRNAs give anesthetics to patients while working alongside anesthesiologists, surgeons, podiatrists, dentists and other qualified medical professionals.

What Do They Do

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are professionals who are considered advanced practice nurses. They safely administer over 32 million anesthetics to patients in surgical, trauma care and obstetrical settings annually in the United States alone. These professionals provide every kind of anesthetic, and they work in every kind of practice setting there is while providing care for every variety of medical operation or procedure – be it pain management treatment or open heart surgery.

Specific tasks of Nurse Anesthetists can include – but are not limited to – performing patients’ physical assessment, taking part in preoperative teaching, prepping for anesthetic management, providing anesthesia to help keep the patient free from pain,   helping maintain anesthesia intraoperatively, looking over patients’ recovery from anesthesia and following their patients’ postoperative experience, from recovery room to patient care unit.

Where They Work

Nurse Anesthetists practice their profession in every imaginable medical setting where the deliverance of anesthesia is required. You can find them holding jobs in traditional hospitals – specifically in surgical suites – as well as in obstetrical delivery rooms, ambulatory surgical centers, critical access hospitals, dental offices, or working alongside ophthalmologists, podiatrists, plastic surgeons and pain management specialists. They are also employed by healthcare facilities of the Public Health Service and Veterans’ Affairs and the military.

How much they make

Nurse Anesthetists are very much in demand in the United States, providing these professionals with plenty of opportunities for general or specialty nursing practice anywhere in the country.

Because these nurses have a very high level of responsibility, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are some of the highest paid nursing professionals with a reported average yearly salary of approximately $160,000. Another data gathered in 2012 (more recent) showed that more experienced Nurse Anesthetists take home about $214,000 every year.

How to become a Nurse Anesthetist

Anyone interested in becoming a Nurse Anesthetist should enroll in an accredited nurse anesthesia program. To be accepted in such a program, you need to be a licensed Registered Nurse (RN) holding a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree – or another equivalent baccalaureate degree – with a minimum experience of one year working in an acute care setting.

A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) program then leads to a master’s or doctoral degree. This takes about two to three years and also includes clinical training at either a university-based hospital or a large community hospital. After graduation, you are required to pass the national certification exam. This is mandatory before you can begin practicing as a Nurse Anesthetist.

Keep in mind that getting certified doesn’t just happen once. For you to keep a certification standing as a Nurse Anesthetist, you must have a continuing education with a minimum requirement of 40 hours every two years.

What Else Can You Expect

Nurse Anesthetists begin working with their patients before the medical procedure starts. Other tasks required for the job include conducting preoperative screening to find out if anesthesia is required. You will have to observe your patients during the course of recovery to see how they react to the anesthesia. It’s vital to always be prepared to act when necessary, based on how the patient responds to the medication. Emergencies can, and will, occur.

While Nurse Anesthetists don’t see a regular group of patients for medical exams, these professionals are still required to keep direct communication with patients. A good portion of the contact occurs during what may be considered some of the most critical times of the patients’ lives. It is, therefore, necessary to have excellent bedside manner, compassion, and professional skills when working with patients.

What kind of Professional Nursing Organizations are associated with Nurse Anesthetists?

The esteemed professional nursing organizations associated with Nurse Anesthetists are the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), American Board of Anesthesiology, American Society of Anesthesiologists, American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists, American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, International Anesthesia Research Society, Society for Ambulatory Anesthesia, Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology, Society for Pediatric Anesthesia and the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists.

Related Careers Within Nursing

You may also be interested in the following related nursing professions: Ambulatory Care Nurse, Cardiac Cath Lab Nurse, Case Management Nurse, Critical Care Nurse, Hospice Nurse, Medical-Surgical Nurse, Perianesthesia Nurse, Perioperative (Surgical) Nurse, and Wound and Ostomy Nurse.