After earning your bachelor’s degree in nursing, it’s likely that you needed to get some experience under your belt before you felt confident in the nursing field. Now that you’re more confident in patient care, protocols, and pharmacology, you may be ready to take the next step in your nursing career. If you want to pursue a career that allows you to work independently with patients, keep patients pain-free during surgical procedures, and will put your advanced nursing education to use, nurse anesthesia may be the right path for you.
Contact the schools with nurse anesthetist programs in Virginia to learn more about getting your degree and working in this field.
If you want to be a nurse anesthetist, you must be competent in various nursing skills, ready to advocate for your patients, and interested in furthering your nursing education throughout your career. During the course of a shift, you may help an anxious patient prepare for surgery, ensure that they have the pain relief they need, and make sure that anesthesia levels stay appropriate throughout a procedure. In addition, you may provide post-surgical support and pain relief.
The field of nursing anesthesiology is growing, particularly in states like Virginia, where health care organizations are looking for cost-effective ways to provide necessary services. Keep reading to learn more about CRNA degrees in Virginia and what it takes to become a nurse anesthetist.
If you know that you want to become a nurse anesthetist, you may want to begin preparing for this career choice well in advance of attending graduate school. It’s important to perform well at the undergraduate level while earning your bachelor’s degree in nursing. Most Virginia CRNA programs require you to have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and you may need an even higher GPA to compete with other applicants. After earning a bachelor’s degree, it's also crucial to get the right type of nursing experience. Work experience in critical care is a common requirement in Virginia, as CRNA programs may want to know how you function in a fast-paced work environment. Furthermore, you must have a valid registered nursing license at all times throughout your education.
The curriculum for your nurse anesthesia program may be divided into two main parts. The first part is the theory portion, in which you spend your time in the classroom and delve into various aspects of nursing theory. During this part of your education, you may study pharmacology and the pharmacological properties of anesthesia in depth.
In the second part of your program, which typically lasts longer, you go out into the field and gain clinical experience. During this part of your training, you may work in fields like labor and delivery, surgery, and emergency care. Some of the courses that may be part of your curriculum include Nurse Anesthesia Advanced Lab, Principles and Practice of Nurse Anesthesia, and Regional Anesthesia. You may also study health assessment, patient communication, and nursing ethics. By the time you complete your program, you should plan on having at least 550 clinical hours and nurse anesthesia.
After you get accepted to a CRNA program in Virginia, you may start applying for scholarships and grants. Consider those offered by employers, government agencies, and schools. The Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority offers grants to advanced nursing professionals that hope to serve rural Virginia after graduation. Through the Commonwealth Long Term Care Foundation, you may apply for several different grants.
Once you have completed your graduate program in nurse anesthesiology, you may be ready to get into the workforce and put your skills to use. However, it may take a bit of time for you to get your license and certification in this field. Before you can apply for Virginia licensure, you must get your national certification through the National Board of Certification & Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists. This process requires you to fill out a thorough application, undergo a background check, and pass a rigorous licensing exam. You can then have proof of your certification sent to the Virginia Board of Nursing. They will look at your school transcript, ensure that your certification is valid, and look at the status of your registered nursing license. Once they have completed these steps, they can give you your state nurse anesthetist license.
As a nurse anesthetist, you may want to learn more about this field and what it is like to work in Virginia. You may find it helpful to join the Virginia Association of Nurse Anesthetists. This organization supports nurse anesthetists all over Virginia by hosting continuing education events, offering networking opportunities, advocating at a political level, and supporting high practice standards in Virginia. You may wish to join while you are still a student so that you can start building a network of advanced nursing contacts.
Across the United States, the job outlook for nurse anesthetists is promising. However, you may find the job outlook in Virginia is even better. From 2012 through 2022, O*Net predicts a 38 percent increase in nurse anesthetist jobs in Virginia. This exceeds the national job growth rate by 13 percent (O*Net, 2012).
Salaries in Virginia tend to be fairly competitive. O*Net reports a statewide average salary of $157,000 per year for nurse anesthetists.
This career path could help you realize your full potential as a nurse. To start preparing for a career as a nurse anesthetist, use our school listings to contact Virginia CRNA schools today.