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Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA): Could You Make the Grade?

Home > Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA): Could You Make the Grade?
Which health care professional can trace ancestry back to the Civil War, actively helps reduce health care costs, and is just as likely to be a man as a woman?

If you answered "The certified registered nurse anesthetist!" go to the top of the class. This rapidly growing nursing specialty is one of a handful of advanced practice nursing careers that require months of dedicated training, intense testing and unwavering devotion to health care practice. Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) administer approximately 30 million anesthetics to patients in the United States each year.

Nurse anesthetists in the USA have been providing anesthesia to patients for over a century, starting with their care of Civil War casualties. The certification of nurse anesthetists began in the 1950s, and today almost 40,000 collaborate with doctors and anesthesiologists in medical centers across the country. Because nurse anesthetists make less money than anesthesiologists yet perform similar functions, hospitals can lower costs by hiring nurse anesthetists to work under the supervision of a doctor. This nursing specialty is unique in that nearly half of nurse anesthetists are men, in contrast to under 10% men in nursing as a whole.

A CRNA takes care of a patient's anesthesia needs before, during and after surgery or the delivery of a baby by:

  • Performing a physical assessment
  • Participating in preoperative teaching
  • Preparing for anesthetic management
  • Administering anesthesia to keep the patient pain free
  • Maintaining anesthesia intraoperatively
  • Overseeing recovery from anesthesia
  • Following the patient's postoperative course from recovery room to patient care unit.

Since patients will be unconscious for most of the time, this specialty appeals to nursesseeking a high degree of responsibility,autonomy,professional respect, and high earning potential. Does this sound like you? Read on to discover how to start the journey to becoming a nurse anesthetist.

Pursuing a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

To qualify for a nurse anesthesia education program, you'll need to be a registered nurse with a bachelor's degree in nursing. Some programs require a minimum of one year of critical care experience.

All accredited nurse anesthesia education programs offer a master's degree, but depending on the particular program, your degree may be in nursing, allied health, or biological and clinical sciences. Upon graduation, the nurse must pass a national certification exam to become a CRNA.

A program will typically include 24 to 36 months of graduate course work including classroom and clinical experience. The curriculum has an emphasis on anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, biochemistry, chemistry, physics and pharmacology as related to anesthesia. You will also study anesthesia techniques and procedures for all types of surgery and obstetrics.

Career Opportunities for a CRNA

As a nurse anesthetist, you'll have the opportunity to practice in a range of diverse settings, from traditional hospital surgical suites and obstetrical delivery rooms to critical access hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers, not to mention the offices of other health care professionals such as dentists, plastic surgeons or podiatrists. You can also consider a career in the military or public health. In about two thirds of all rural hospitals in the United States, CRNAs are the sole providers of anesthesia, and in some states they provide anesthesia services in nearly 100% of these hospitals.As advanced practice nurses, CRNA`s are given a high degree of autonomy and professional respect.

Within your chosen job, you might take on a number of roles anywhere between conducting the pre-operative interview to rousing the patient in recovery. Because your CRNA training qualifies you to administer any type of anesthetic, you'll work on all kinds of medical cases, including orthopedics, neurosurgery, vascular surgery and more.

CRNAs are the sole providers of anesthesia in approximately two thirds of all rural hospitals in the United States, enabling these healthcare facilities to offer obstetrical, surgical, and trauma stabilization services. In some states, CRNAs are the sole providers in nearly 100% of the rural hospitals.

Although you won't make as much as an anesthesiologist, nobody could call your wage skimpy: CRNAs regularly command six figure salaries and can make up to $150,000. Along with the high pay comes a high level of responsibility and skill, so you'll need to be sure you're up to the challenge.

If you have ever dreamed of a fulfilling career beyond the call of bedside nursing, one filled with challenges and rewards in abundance, the becoming a CRNA might be exactly what you have been looking for.Take the first step today by exploring programs that will provide you with the educational qualifications you may need. Earning a Bachelor`s degree in Nursing is the first step towards becoming eligible for an accredited CRNA program.

Pathways To Pursuing A Bachelor`s in Nursing (BSN) Degree:

1. Traditional Campus Based BSN Program: Persons interested in earning a BSN degree who are not LPN`s, RN`s, or Paramedics already will need to attend an accredited campus based school of nursing.

2. Paramedic to RN bridge program: Paramedics have the option of earning an Associate degree in Nursing (RN) online in as little as 18 months through this accredited program designed to accommodate the busy and irregular schedules of EMS & fire service professions.Earning an Associate degree in Nursing opens the door for going on to earn a BSN degree through your choice of many top ranked online nursing schools which offer online RN to BSN programs.

3. Online LPN to BSN Transition Program: Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN/LVN) have the option of earning an NLNAC accredited LPN to BSN degree at their own pace while continuing their present job and without ever stepping foot in a classroom through Indiana State University and The College Network.

4.Online RN to BSN Programs: Accredited online RN to BSN Degree Completion meet the needs of working registered nurses by enabling them to earn a Bachelor`s degree in Nursing while continuing to work. Advantages include:No campus residency required - take all classes online; Attend class anytime - day or night.

Pathways To An Advanced Practice Nurse

1. Traditional Campus Based Nursing Programs: Persons interested in becoming an advanced practice nurse such as a Nurse Anesthetist or Nurse Practitioner can attend traditional campus based nursing schools that offer programs ranging from LPN through Doctorate in Nursing Practice.

2. Online RN to MSN Bridge Programs: RN to MSN bridge programs let RNs complete a B.S.N. degree and M.S.N. degree in a combined online program in half the time of traditional programs and keep working while they earn their degree.Additionally, many online RN to MSN bridge programs offer the added benefit of selecting an area of concentration such as Nurse Practitioner, Nurse-Midwifery, Nurse Anesthetist, Nurse Educator, or Nursing Administration for example.

3. Online Nursing Master's Degree Programs: A Master's in Nursing Science degree enables nurses to pursue more challenging careers in healthcare such as Nurse Executive, Nurse Leader, Nurse Educator, Nurse Administrator, Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Midwifery, Nurse Anesthesia, Care Coordinator, Case Manager, and Managed Care Consultant. For busy nursing professionals looking for career advancement, a Master's degree in Nursing earned online from an accredited school of nursing is your ticket to success.

4. Online Nurse Practitioner Programs: Nurse Practitioners specialize in practice areas that include: Pediatrics, Neonatal, Acute Care, Adult Family Practice, Gerontology, Nurse-Midwifery, and Nurse Anesthetist among others and the opportunities available for advanced practice nurses is continually expanding. Online Nurse Practitioner programs include RN-to-MSN, M.S.N. for Nurse Practitioners, MSN. - Nurse Practitioner (with specialty focus), through Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).


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