Also called advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), nurse anesthetists are registered nurses (RNs) who have advanced their education and training to become part of a profession that provides anesthesia to patients before, during and after surgical procedures. Becoming a nurse anesthetist involves education, training, work experience, and licensure as a registered nurse. Nurse anesthetists are very much in demand and should continue to be a career with checking out.
Related resource: Top 30 Most Affordable Certified Nurse Anesthetist Programs
How to Become a Nurse Anesthetist
To become a nurse anesthetist, an individual must have at least a master’s degree, must be a registered nurse and pass the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. APRNs may be one of three professions: nurse anesthetist, nurse practitioner or nurse-midwife. An aspiring nurse anesthetist must first earn a degree in nursing. Once the candidate has earned the degree, he or she must complete a nurse anesthetist training program.
Most APRN programs prefer the candidate to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing prior to enrolling in the nurse anesthetist program. A candidate with an associate degree in nursing (ADN) may also complete a nurse anesthetist program by completing a bridge program. The program consists of classroom studies and clinical experiences. The aspiring nurse anesthetist must complete at least one year of clinical experiences prior to enrolling in the nurse anesthetist program. Some choose to advance their education and earn a Ph.D. or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).
In most states, nurse anesthetists must be certified to use the title of APRN. Certification is obtained by passing a certification exam through the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists. Certification is only valid for four years. To maintain certification the nurse anesthetist must complete a designated number of continuing education credits as set by the NBCRNA.
What Nurse Anesthetists Do
As an APRN, the nurse anesthetist will have many duties, including the following.
• Taking and recording patients’ medical histories
• Observing patients and performing examinations
• Ordering and performing diagnostic tests
• Developing patient care plans
• Operating medical equipment
• Diagnosing health problems
• Giving medication to patients and evaluating reactions to medicine
• Analyzing test results
• Teaching patients about healthy living
• Consulting with doctors and other medical professionals
As a nurse anesthetist, the individual will perform many, if not all, of the above-mentioned duties. Additionally, the nurse anesthetist provides anesthesia to patients throughout the entire surgical procedure. They also discuss the procedure to the patient prior to the procedure and answer any questions the patient may have. They generally stay with the patient throughout the procedure in cases they need to adjust the anesthesia as well as to monitor the patient’s vital signs. Nurse anesthetists also provide pain management and various emergency services.
The decade of 2016-2026 is expected to bring a faster-than-average job growth for nurse anesthetists according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which predicted a 31% growth. As of May 2018, nurse anesthetists earned an average annual wage of $174,790 with wages going up to $198,470 and more.
Individuals who want a career where they can have good job growth, earn good wages and have a part in helping others feel better may find becoming a nurse anesthetist the ideal choice. Nurse anesthetists perform a variety of tasks throughout their day, making the life and career of a nurse anesthetist both challenging and rewarding.