Nurse Anesthetist

What Does a Nurse Anesthetist Do?

Nurse anesthetists are advanced practice nurses who are specially trained to provide anesthesia and anesthesia-related care to patients before, during and after surgical procedures. They also provide anesthesia during therapeutic, diagnostic and obstetrical procedures. A nurse anesthetist’s patients may be coming in to a physician’s office or hospital for a planned outpatient diagnostic procedure such as a colonoscopy, or be brought from the emergency room needing emergency surgery. Therefore, nurse anesthetists need to be prepared for a wide variety of situations. They are also skilled in providing pain relief and pain management after surgical procedures. Nurse anesthetists administer epidurals for pain relief during childbirth, and administer local anesthetic when a patient only needs partial anesthesia. They can also put a patient “completely under” for more intense surgeries, re-administering anesthetic as needed for lengthy surgeries. Nurse anesthetists are valued members of medical-surgical teams that include surgeons and other physicians, anesthesiologists, registered nurses and other health care practitioners.

How Can I Become a Nurse Anesthetist?

The first step toward becoming a nurse anesthetist is to complete an approved nursing education program. For this career path, earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university is the way to go. You will need to maintain a high GPA during your undergraduate education to demonstrate aptitude for a master’s program. After completing a nursing program, all future nurses go on to take an exam called the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) so they can become licensed to practice nursing in their state. Many RNs gain clinical experience as a staff nurse before entering a graduate program for nurse anesthetists, but all must eventually become master’s-prepared to become a nurse anesthetist. After obtaining significant clinical experience as a nurse anesthetist, you can proceed to become board certified as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) through the National Board on Certification & Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists.

What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a Nurse Anesthetist?

Advanced practice nurses of all stripes are among of the most in-demand of all nursing professions because of their intense clinical training and high level of education. This includes nurse anesthetists. Demand for nurse anesthetists and other advanced practiced nurses is expected to spike over the next 10 years due to their ability to provide much-needed health care services in rural and inner city areas at a lower cost than a physician, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The overall employment of RNs is projected to grow by 22 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the Bureau. More good news is that nurse anesthetists have long been the highest-paid of all nursing professions. The annual salary for a nurse anesthetist is between $101,541 and $154,527, according to online compensation site However, a number of factors can affect your salary as a nurse anesthetist, including how many years of experience you have, what certifications you have, what region of the U.S. you live in, and whether you are working in a metropolitan or rural area.

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