How do I become a Nurse Anesthetist?

Are you interested in becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)? This type of specialty nurse administers anesthetics to their patients and monitors the patient’s vital signs during surgery. They are also responsible for after-surgery care. The ability to provide a surgical procedure to patients without feeling pain is important in the healthcare industry.

A Nurse Anesthetists will prepare the patient for surgery with proper medication and be familiar with the equipment used in surgery. They must monitor a patient’s pulse, pupil dilation, respiration and heart rate to ensure that there are no adverse reactions to being under anesthesia.

But is being a Nurse Anesthetist a career for you? This is a highly stressful job demanding physical strength to move patients, as well as, lots of standing on your feet. The Nurse Anesthetists must be a critical thinker and a good listener. They must be able to communicate well with patients, their families and other co-workers. A CRNA must be well-versed in reading and writing comprehension and familiar with effective documenting and charting software, recording medical history and analyzing test results. Other key skills would include extensive knowledge in IV insertion, general anesthesia, conscious sedation and fluid therapy.

The 2017 median salary for a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist is $173,541 annually, however, the salary could range from between $159,499 – $189,299 annually, depending on your educational degree, experience and job location. The CRNA career is expected to grow 22% between now and 2022.

The first step to becoming a Nurse Anesthetist is to earn your online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree through a RN-BSN program. Once you have passed your licensure, you must begin work and gain experience as a Critical Care Nurse, however, you must also earn certification in this specialty area. To become eligible, you must have a valid RN license and at least 1750 hours of direct critical care experience within the past two years, with 875 of those hours accruing in the most recent year prior to your application. This experience may be obtained through hospital intensive care units (ICU), cardiac care units (CCU) and surgical intensive care units (SICU).

You must then earn your online master’s degree through a program specializing in Nurse Anesthesia which requires a minimum of 27 months of training. In this program, students learn how to administer anesthesia and operate anesthesia equipment. Coursework includes anesthesia pharmacology, pathophysiology, biochemistry, obstetric anesthesia, geriatric anesthesia, as well as, pain management. Numerous hours of supervised clinical experience are required involving all sorts of surgeries such as plastic surgery and open-heart surgery to complete the master’s degree program.

As a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, you must obtain licensure to practice, as required by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA). To qualify to take the National Certification Exam (NCE) you must own a master’s degree in Nurse Anesthesia from an accredited school and a valid RN license.

To remain a CRNA, you must be diligent in keeping up with additional requirements such as 40 hours of approved continued education every two years, as well as, a current RN license. As a CRNA, you are considered an advanced RN. This distinction will allow you to move up into managerial and higher-level administrative positions, however, some positions at this level may require a doctorate degree.

If you have a desire to become a CRNA, check out our Top Online Nursing Degree Programs to help you along your journey.