Steps to Become A Nurse Anesthetist

The job market for nurse anesthetists is expected to grow tremendously in the years from 2018 to 2028. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has provided a growth figure of 26% for Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners, which is a lot faster than the average growth for all occupations in the US.

The growth will be driven by an increased demand for healthcare services in the coming years. With an increased emphasis on preventive care, the demand for nurse anesthetists, along with other medical professionals will increase. Nurse anesthetists will also be needed to take care of the aging population from the baby boom generation.

If you want to join hands with these medical professionals and contribute towards making a positive impact on the society, the career of a nurse anesthetist might just be for you. The following guide provides all the necessary information regarding this career, including the job duties, educational and licensing requirements to become a nurse anesthetist.

What Does a Nurse Anesthetist Do?

Nurse Anesthetists, also referred to as CRNAs perform a multitude of medical duties. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has provided a list of these duties. Nurse Anesthetists typically perform the following:

  • Taking and recording the medical histories and symptoms of patients
  • Performing exams and observing patients
  • Creating patient care plans and performing diagnostic tests
  • Administering anesthesia to patients
  • Providing care before, during and after surgical and diagnostic procedures
  • Providing pain management options to patients
  • Providing emergency services
  • Discussing options for anesthesia with patients and other medical personnel
  • Evaluating a patient’s response to anesthesia  

Steps to Become a Nurse Anesthetist

In order to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), aspiring professionals have to meet certain requirements. The following steps provide a detailed list of these requirements.

Step 1: Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

To become a nurse anesthetist, the first level of education that you need to clear is a bachelor’s degree. This would typically be a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Some students also get on the path to become nurses through a diploma or an associate’s degree, followed by an RN-to-BSN program. Typical coursework at this level includes topics in basic nursing skills, human anatomy, biology, pharmacology and pathology etc. Students enrolled in this program are also required to complete clinical rotations in major healthcare departments like mental health, surgery or pediatrics.

Step 2: Get a License/Certificate

The requirements for licensure or certification vary from state to state, though nearly all states require nurses to clear the National Council Licensing Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and get a license to practice.

Step 3: Gain Some Experience

If you go for a master’s degree in nurse anesthetics, you will be required to have at least one year of professional experience in critical care nursing before enrolling. Registered Nurses can get this experience by working in a cardiac care unit, intensive care unit or a surgical intensive care unit.

Step 4: Get a Master’s Degree

Most master’s in nurse anesthetics would require the completion of 2 years of full-time study. Students will be exposed to subjects such as management of anesthesia equipment, emergency situations and performing surgical processes. Common course topics would include pathophysiology, anesthesia biochemistry, geriatric anesthesia and pain management.

Step 5: Become a CRNA

Getting the CRNA credential is necessary to practice in this field. Individuals who have a masters degree in nurse anesthesia are eligible to take the National Certification Exam, administered by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists.

How Much Does a Nurse Anesthetist Earn?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual median wage for Nurse Anesthetists in 2019 was $174,790. The top paying industry for this occupation was Outpatient Care Centers, with an annual mean wage of $224,630, followed by General Medical and Surgical Hospitals, which paid $193,380.

Salary for Nurse Anesthetists also varied according to location. The top paying state for this occupation was Wyoming, paying an annual mean wage of $243,310. This was followed by Montana, which paid $239,380 Oregon, which paid $234,750, Wisconsin, which paid $233,600 and California, which paid $227,290.

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