Nurse anesthetists are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who have a master’s degree and advanced clinical training in administering anesthesia to patients. Their training allows them to have a great deal of autonomy when working with patients; in fact, in rural hospitals and the U.S. military, they are typically the main providers of anesthesia, according to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA). Registered nurses, which includes nurse anesthetists, can expect 26% employment growth between 2010 and 2010, and job opportunities for APRNs are expected to be especially good, particularly in inner cities and rural areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Nurse anesthetists are among the highest paid nurses in the country, with the average annual wage being $160,000 in 2005, according to the AANA. Salaries can vary greatly depending on the nurse anesthetist’s experience, employer, and job responsibilities. Typical job responsibilities for a nurse anesthetist include:
- Assessing and evaluating patients prior to the patient receiving anesthesia
- Developing a plan of anesthetic care for patients
- Performing various types of anesthetic procedures, including local, general, and regional anesthesia as well as sedation
- Monitoring a patient’s response, particularly the vital activities of the heart and lungs, while they are undergoing anesthesia, and responding to emergency situations if they occur
- Monitoring a patient as they come out of anesthesia and developing a plan of care for pain management as necessary
To become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), you must first earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and obtain state licensure as a registered nurse (RN). After gaining a year’s worth of experience in acute care nursing, you must then complete an accredited master’s program in nurse anesthesia that incorporates clinical training, and pass a national certification exam, according to the AANA. While nurse anesthetist careers are not typically among the many careers with Masters in Healthcare, a nurse anesthetist may be interested in a MHA degree if he or she wishes to transition into management. A Masters in Healthcare Management could be beneficial for CRNAs who are seeking a position as director of anesthesia, assistant director of anesthesia, or director of perioperative services at a hospital or other large medical facility.
Featured Nurse Anesthetist Profiles
As a nurse anesthetist, Nick Angelis has been able to combine two of his interests: science and writing. He currently works as an anesthetist for Panhandle Anesthesiology Associates in the Pensacola, Fla., area. When not providing patient care, Angelis can also be found writing. He blogs about healthcare careers for websites like Squeezing the Bag.