Nurse Anesthetist –
A certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) is an advance practice nurse who provides anesthesia in varieties of settings in varieties of facilities. They play crucial parts in the surgical rooms, trauma rooms, pain management centers, etc. They are not just helping hands; in fact, they provide immense support to the doctors and other healthcare officers. Surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists, podiatrists, and other professionals collaborate with them to ensure the safe administration of anesthesia.
CRNA’s are an important member of the healthcare team, their working field as diverse as it gets. From busy hospitals in the urban areas to a faraway clinic in a rural area, they provide anesthesia to all kinds of communities. The difference between an anesthesiologist and a CRNA is their educational background, an anesthesiologist is a medical doctor and a CRNA is a graduate degree-level nurse. In most states, a CRNA is able to practice without any physician supervision therefore they have freedom and are independent in their field.
Educational requirements to become a nurse anesthetist
Since CRNA’s are advanced practice nurses, to become a CRNA, a nurse must become RNA first. A bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) and a Master’s degree in nursing (MSN) are required from any nursing school. A nursing student must complete their BSN program or an alternative associate degree program. Bachelor’s degree programs can be finished in four years or so. It takes about two more years to earn an MSN degree and another two to earn a DNP degree.
The certificates are proof that the particular nurse is well informed about the fundamentals and in depth knowledge in nursing. An RN with a bachelor’s degree can choose their own way to higher study much easier, they can aim to be a specialized nurse or into nursing management, it’s easier to progress with a bachelor’s degree. Therefore the basic goal of a nursing student should be to earn a BSN degree first.
Earning an MSN degree means completing general advanced-practice courses, as well as courses specific to the nurse anesthetist field. The program includes courses such as –
- Health promotion and maintenance
- Advanced pathophysiology
- Pharmacology for advanced practice nurses
- Advanced pathophysiology in anesthesia
- Advanced health assessment for nurse anesthesia
- Principles of anesthesia
- Clinical anesthesia.
Certifications and Credentials
After completing their education, a CRNA needs state approval so that they can start working in a clinic or any healthcare organization so they need to take an examination which is called the National Board of Certification & Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) exam. Passing this exam will earn them a state level certification which will allow them to work in clinics and hospitals or any healthcare organization as a CRNA.
The exam is designed to check the competency of RNs, if they are well competent, they can start working as entry-level CRNA. There are some misconceptions between license and certification; they are two different things. Being certified means that nurse is competent enough to administer anesthesia to patients and being licensed means they are legally permitted to practice in their state of residence.
The CRNAs usually start as an RN or an entry-level nurse, at first they don’t do much; they check vitals, administer medication and take care of the patients and evaluate them. They start to garner experience and eventually move further up in the rank or position by performing well in what they do. When they do enough good, they are usually put into surgical rooms or trauma rooms or even into pain management centers where they support other CRNAs or doctors. As they gain experience, at some point they enter as CRNA themselves.
Responsibilities of a CRNA
Nurse anesthetists are crucial members of the healthcare team, the medical field would be incomplete without them. Administering anesthesia is a risky procedure as it is a drug; knowledge and experience are key aspects of a nurse anesthetist. A CRNA must always remain cool and calm during procedures especially in surgical rooms. They must always maintain a flow; an overdose of anesthesia could put a patient’s life in danger. A nurse anesthetist should always be informed about the patient’s history in order to maintain a safety procedure. They work closely with a physician or a doctor to properly evaluate and administer anesthesia.
They are primarily responsible for the patient’s physical assessment. While it is true that CRNA’s administer and monitor the patient’s anesthesia and sedation but they are not the ones who make the decision, it is up to an anesthesiologist to properly choose the level of sedation the patient will be given. They might not be the decision makes for the medication but they are highly responsible for the delivery of the medication. Their responsibilities lie from urban areas to rural areas, in rural areas it is difficult to find an experienced doctor so it is up to them to maintain medication.
How much does a nurse anesthetist can earn?
Due to their hard work in the nursing field, they are compensated heavily. Being a CRNA already means they are advanced practice nurses, so their base salary is far more than an RN or an LPN. They are one of the highest paid advanced-practice nurses, according to various pay scales in various organizations, it has been reported that their average annual salary ranges from $96,175 to $184,547.
While the salaries vary from state to state, the average median salary is $139,838 annually. The highly experienced CRNA nurses are always in demand and their salaries rank among the top paid nurses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook of CRNA’s looks promising and they are expected to grow at least 20% in the coming years. They belong to the one of the fastest growing fields out there. The highest numbers of CRNA’s are in the following states – Texas, Ohio and North Carolina.
U.S News & World Report has ranked the nursing anesthetist job in the top 5 of their “Best Health Care Jobs”.