The Job of a Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

A nurse anesthetist does the same job as an anesthesiologist which is to look after the patient from the very start to the very end of a medical or surgical procedure. In order to be a nurse anesthetist you first need to be a registered nurse.

Nurse Anesthetist Philosophy

The philosophy of anesthesiology is very simply the practice of pain relief and care of a surgical patient before, during and after surgery.

Education and Expected Salary

Your start your career as a nurse Anesthetist by qualifying as a registered nurse. This means finding a school and studying for a bachelor’s degree in nursing. After graduation you sit the exam to gain your registered nursing license (NCLEX).

If you have achieved your RN license through a route other than with a degree you will still need to gain a BSN. Many schools now run RN to BSN programs and also second degree bachelor’s programs for non-nursing students with a degree in any other field with a goal to earn a BSN at an accelerated pace.

After gaining your license as an RN you’ll need to work for the minimum of a year before you will be accepted into a master of science in nursing degree program. It would be advantageous if during this time you can find work in a surgical setting. After completion of your MSN you will be eligible for sitting the exam to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist. There is a requirement to be re-certified every two years.

This may seem a lot of education and a lot of licenses but as a CRNA you are qualified to work as the sole anesthetist in a surgical team whereas many nursing jobs are subject to supervision from senior healthcare workers.

There are however rewards for all your hard work in gaining your license. A CRNA is the best paid of all nursing jobs with most CRNAs earning salaries between $135,000 and $175,000 per year.

It’s important to note that The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has endorsed a proposal to change the entry level of training for nurse anesthetists to DNP or DNAP. The proposal has not yet been approved and the current view is that the target date will be 2025. Current practitioners will not be affected.

Scope of Nurse Anesthetist Jobs

Unlike many nursing jobs, your qualification will be valid in all states and you don’t need individual state licenses. The CRNA job situation is much the same as the rest of the nursing profession. There is a dire shortage so prospects are good for you if this is the career you want to pursue. As a CRNA you can work in a multitude of settings, anywhere that has a surgical facility. This includes hospitals in emergency and operating rooms, dental offices, general health clinics and specialty health clinics such as those offering cosmetic surgery.

Beyond the initial qualification as a CRNA, you can continue your education to a research doctorate such as a Ph.D (Dr of Philosophy), DNS or DNSc (Doctorates of Nursing Science) or a clinical doctorate such as a DNAP (Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice) or DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice). With these qualifications you can teach, undertake research or become a senior healthcare administrator.

Roles of a Nurse Anesthetist

The jobs that a CRNA undertakes will begin before a surgical procedure is performed. The CRNA will review the patient’s notes to determine what methods of care can be used and which would be the best option. During the procedure, it is the duty of the CRNA to monitor the patient to ensure that they are safe and comfortable. This encompasses:

  • Monitoring vital signs
  • Controlling pain
  • Replacing body fluids
  • Controlling heartbeat
  • Monitoring and controlling blood pressure
  • Monitoring and controlling brain and kidney functions.

After the operation the CNRA remains involved to control any post operative pain and other factors like when it is okay for the patient have food or drinks.


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