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Nurse Anesthetist

A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) is an independently licensed healthcare professional in a very demanding role. Today there are over 30,000 CRNAs who administer anesthetics in the United States for all types of surgical cases. These nurses are the primary anesthesiologists in many rural areas in the United States. There are some states with locations where the CRNAs are the only providers of anesthesia in many of their rural hospitals.

Becoming a nurse anesthetist is a significant commitment. Nurse anesthesia programs are not offered in every state, so you may be required to travel or relocate to attend one of the CRNA programs in the U.S. Nurse anesthetist schools are also very competitive when it comes to accepting students, so you will want to prepare the strongest application you can, which often includes volunteerism, intensive care nursing experience and excellent transcripts. This means that if you have not started investigating CRNA programs yet, it would be a good idea to start now. To help you, we’ve listed all of the nurse anesthetist degree and program options below.

Nurse anesthetists often work in conjunction with anesthesiologists, nurse practitioners, surgeons and other healthcare professionals regardless of the practice area’s population. In addition, CRNAs may work in different types of practice including solo practice, partnerships or contractual employment by a practice group within a healthcare facility.

Nurse anesthetists administer anesthesia in four general categories, which include:

  1. Pre-anesthetic preparation and evaluation
  2. Anesthesia induction, maintenance and emergencies
  3. Post-anesthesia care
  4. Peri-anesthetic and clinical support functions

The scope of Nurse Anesthetist practice includes performing and documenting a pre-anesthetic assessment and evaluation of the patient, which includes any diagnostic studies. They review the patient's history, allergies and any co-existing conditions. They also care for the patient during and following the procedure or surgery. As a CRNA, you are also responsible for assisting the patient to come out of the anesthesia, which requires careful monitoring. If you have had experience in the OR or in PACU, you may already be familiar with this aspect of practicing in nurse anesthesia.

Most importantly, CRNAs monitor each important body function during the surgery or procedure. They ensure proper sedation and pain management throughout the procedure and care for the patient's immediate post-operative needs. CRNAs have a high level of responsibility and are crucial to high quality operative outcomes.

Nurse Anesthetists tend to good at multitasking, and they are very detail oriented. They tend to be very responsible and in control when it comes to patient safety issues and they are very patient oriented. If this sounds like you, entering one of the available Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) programs may be a great career choice for you.

Nurse Anesthetist Education Requirements

There are several fully accredited nurse anesthetist programs in the U. S. They are Master's degree programs that are typically inundated by many more applicants than they have available seats for. Again, starting to prepare your application materials now, by building your resume and curriculum vitae, is a great idea and may allow you to stand out from other applicants in the end.

Of course, you may be thinking, if it takes that much time and effort to get into one of the country’s nurse anesthetist schools, how long does it take to become a nurse anesthetist? Actually, it only takes 24 to 36 months to complete your nurse anesthetist degree in most cases. The didactic curriculum of these programs are governed by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) standards; therefore, all CRNA students are provided with a similar scientific, clinical and professional foundation. Most CRNA programs exceed the minimum standards set forth and are quite intensive in nature.

As you will be competing for entrance with students from across the country, your nursing anesthesia program application materials may be quite specific. You will want to spend of good deal of time preparing and perfecting your application materials, which will likely include:

  • Baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university
  • Current RN license
  • Standardized Tests scores, such as the GRE or the MAT
  • Official Transcripts
  • Two or more letters of recommendation from two healthcare professionals who have supervised your clinical experience
  • Application and fee
  • English proficiency requirement
  • Resume listing critical care experience including type, location and duration

This course curriculum example takes an average of five semesters and consists of 27 credits. The courses are similar to those at most CRNA schools and include:

  • Physiology for Health Sciences
  • Principles of Anesthesia I, II
  • Physical-Chemical Basis of Anesthetic Action
  • Health Assessment
  • Practicum in Nurse Anesthesia
  • Biomedical Pharmacology
  • Biomedical Sciences for Nurse Anesthesia
  • Seminar in Nurse Anesthesia
  • Practicum in Nurse Anesthesia
  • Professional Aspects of Nurse Anesthesia
  • Clinical Practicum (noncredit)
  • Clinical Problems in Anesthesia I, II
  • Seminar in Nurse Anesthesia
  • Practicum in Nurse Anesthesia

If you need financial aid to go back to school for your MSN, check with the financial aid office and fill out the FAFSA application to start. This is a federal grant program for low income students that may help you pay for school.

The Health Resources and Services Administration offers low interest loans for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Nurse Corps offers a loan repayment program for graduates that serve for two years in an underserved area, and the program will pay off 60 percent of your unpaid nursing student loan. There is an additional option for a third year and 25 percent of the original loan balance will be paid.

Nurse Anesthetist - Career and Licensing Info

The Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012 state that nurse anesthetists earn a mean annual income of $154,390, and that their job outlook is better than the average occupation.

To become a CRNA a nurse must graduate from a nurse anesthesia educational program that is accredited by the Council of Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs. They must also pass the certification exam that is administered by the Council on Certification of Nurse Anesthetists. Becoming a member of this organization has many advantages, such as continuing education, and you may become a member as a Student Associate while you are in training.

The Council of Certification of Nurse Anesthetists certifies the nurse anesthetist by a national certification exam. Nurses must pass this exam before being certified as a CRNA. Recertification is also required on a biennial basis. The organization re-certifies the nurse anesthetists by reviewing their current licensure, their 40 required CE credits, and certifies the nurse has been actively working in the field of anesthesia over the past two years. They also verify the absence of mental, physical or any problem that could interfere with the practice of anesthesia.

Nurse anesthetists work in hospital surgical suites and procedure rooms, surgical care centers, labor and deliver, dental offices, offices of ophthalmologists, plastic surgeons, podiatrists and in pain management centers. In addition, these nurses work in military facilities, including Navy ships. In fact, Nurse Anesthetists originated in the Armed Forces, serving on the battlefield and in military healthcare facilities.

There are fewer Anesthesiologists available today, so becoming a Nurse Anesthetist is a career choice that should always keep you employed with a good salary and job satisfaction. This is a career that helps nursing and healthcare as a whole, and presents a challenging and exciting field of nursing. To learn more about the CRNA programs that are available, contact the schools on our page today.

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