What Is A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist?
A certified registered nurse anesthetist, or CRNA, is a nurse with the ability to perform the same duties in the operating room as the anesthesiologist. This makes it one of the nursing careers that come with the highest level of responsibility and skill. It also is one of the nursing careers that offer the best salary to its nurses. In addition to the high salary you will also earn a higher degree of respect.
Nature of the Work/Duties
Certified registered nurse anesthetists provide anesthesia:
- Before surgery
- During surgery
- After surgery
- During the delivery of a baby
The main tasks that a certified registered nurse anesthetist can perform include physical assessments of the patients, administering anesthesia during the course of surgery, and overseeing the patient’s recovery from anesthesia.
This is a fairly niche field of nursing as you will only be able to work in those areas where surgeries requiring anesthetics are performed. In many rural settings it is possible for certified registered nurse anesthetists to perform anesthesia procedures alone and without the aid of an anesthesiologist as skilled doctors are not always available in these settings. It is literally one of the most advanced careers you could pursue in nursing and puts you on the same level as certain doctors.
There are a number of different settings in which CRNAs can seek employment, including hospital operating rooms, ambulatory surgery centers, pain clinics, physicians’ offices, and in the U.S. military. So, although it is a fairly niche area of specialization in nursing, you will still have a variety of different settings in which you will be able to find employment as a CRNA. Employment outlook for nursing in general is extremely good at the moment as the number of jobs in this industry is consistently expected to increase and at a rate faster than that of all other industries. In addition, having a specialization in nursing, such as a CNRA, means that your employment opportunities are even better, not to mention the fact that you will be eligible for a higher salary.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Requirements
According to allnursingschools.com the following are the basic requirements for entering a program that will qualify you as a CRNA:
- You must have a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) or another appropriate baccalaureate degree. The ‘appropriateness’ of the degree that you have completed will be determined by the specific school you are applying at.
- You must have a license as a registered nurse (RN) in order to gain entrance into a program that will qualify you as a CRNA as well as to actually practice as one once you have completed your program.
- You must have a minimum of one year of acute care nursing experience. Again the definition of ‘acute care’ will be determined by the program that you are interested in gaining your qualification through in order to become qualified in this discipline.
In order to be a certified registered nurse anesthetist the following personality traits will be extremely useful:
- You should be compassionate
- You should be detail oriented
- You should be good-spirited
- You should be helpful
- You should have great communication skills
- You should have a love for working with people
These are skills that most nurses in most areas of nursing are required to have if they are to be successful at their jobs. In addition to these you, as a CRNA, will also need to have a drive to study and learn about new advancements in your field so that you can stay up to date and provide your patients with the best care and attention possible. A willingness to learn is therefore an additional personality trait that will be useful.
The educational requirements for becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist are fairly intensive and will take a long time to achieve, which is not surprising given the advanced nature of the job. In order to qualify for entry into a training program that will result in a CRNA qualification you will need to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing. A master’s degree is not a prerequisite for entering a certified registered nurse anesthetist training program as this is the qualification that you will be awarded once you complete the training program. This nursing career is intensive and you may spend many years achieving the educational ideals that are required for becoming certified. The fact that experience is also necessary before you will complete your training makes the time it takes to become a CRNA even longer.
The license that you will need to hold to be a certified registered nurse anesthetist is an RN license. To earn an RN license you must:
- Apply for licensure with your state board of nursing.
- Once you application for licensure has been approved you can set a date to write the exam with Pearson VUE.
- This exam will cost you an amount of about $200 and there will also be a licensing fee that you will need to pay to your state board of nursing.
- Once your state board of nursing receives confirmation that you have passed the exam, you will be licensed – note that you may have to wait a few months for this to occur.
- Depending on the rules of your state you may need to relicense once every few years.
How To Become A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications
Being a certified registered nurse anesthetist is a very intensive job that requires a high degree of skill and knowledge. Consequently, in addition to the basic training that you will complete in order to receive your RN licensure, you will also have to engage in advanced training that will prepare you for the intensity of the job in a real world setting.
In order to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist you will need to complete special training in the form of a master’s degree program. These take between 24 and 36 months to complete. In this program you will study anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, biochemistry, chemistry, physics, pharmacology, principles of anesthesia, and management and advanced practice nursing. In addition you will need to complete a certain amount of hands-on training.
Source An Accredited Education Program
It is absolutely essential that the school you attend is, in fact accredited. The following accrediting bodies will need to be involved in the accreditation of the nursing program you plan to take to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist:
- The National League of Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) accredits all types of nursing education programs including master’s, baccalaureate, associate’s and diploma.
- The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredits programs that offer only master’s and baccalaureate level nursing degrees.
- The Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) accredits nurse anesthesia programs at the certificate, master’s and doctoral degree levels.
Remember that if a school is ‘approved’ by your state board of nursing, it does not automatically mean that it is also accredited.
Earn Your Associate’s Degree
Earning your associate’s degree is a good place to start, but in order to enter a nurse anesthetist program you must hold a bachelor’s degree and then earn a master’s degree with a specialization in that line of nursing. However, if you plan to take things slowly, your associate’s degree may be a good place to start. Consider all of the schools in your area that offer associate’s degrees and nursing and create a short list of the best options by narrowing down your choices based on what you would like your idea school to be like. Be sure to apply for at least three schools to broaden your opportunities, and complete all the course requirements for the school you enroll in. Once you have graduated, look into ASN to BSN programs in nursing.
Obtain Your Licensure
In addition to you Registered Nurse License you will need to be certified as a CRNA in order to be employed in this line of work. This means taking the certification exam. To be eligible for this certification examination you must graduate form a master’s program in nurse anesthesia. This exam is administered by the Council on Certification of Nurse Anesthetists and once you have received certification you will be required to become recertified once every two years. To be recertified you must possess a valid registered nurse license, complete the required forty credits of continuing education, show proof of practice of anesthesia during the two year period, and absence of any problems, mental or physical, that would be detrimental to the practice of a nurse anesthetist (anesthesianurse.info).
Online/Distance Education Programs
To a certain degree you can earn this qualification online, but you need to remember that, because of the highly practical nature of the job, you will never be able to complete the entire qualification online as this will prevent you from receiving the necessary clinical training. However, as all training programs also include a theoretical aspect, you will be able to complete this section online for both your bachelor’s and your master’s degree programs. Studying online is not for everyone as it requires a high degree of self-motivation and self-control as well as the ability to work on your own. Consequently it is up to you to assess your personality and determine if you will be able to survive a program offered partially online or if a traditional program would suit you better.
The job outlook for registered nurses in general is extremely good. In fact registered nursing professions can anticipate a 26 percent increase in employment from 2012 through 2020. This is significantly higher than other professions. In addition there is a growing demand for CRNAs in particular as for the following reasons:
- It is an advanced nursing specialty, which means that the job outlook for this career will always be impressive.
- CRNAs provide the same services as anesthesiologists, but at a lower price, which makes them a far more attractive option for hospitals and other health care facilities which are looking for health care professionals of this kind.
As a certified registered nurse anesthetist you will be able to find employment in anesthesia related jobs as well as in general nursing as you will also have completed all of the basic training.
As a CRNA you can earn between $78,052 and $169,384 a year. If you add the potential for a bonus of about $0.00 – $15,334 as well as the potential for profit sharing of about $1,449 – $19,678 a year to this, the total potential pay you can earn is $78,121 – $184,713. There are, however, a number of factors that will affect your salary. One of these factors is the industry you choose to work in:
- In Healthcare you can earn about $79,063 – $177,812 a year
- In a Hospital you can earn about $78,056 – $179,924 a year
- In Medical Services you can earn about $77,328 – $179,237 a year
- In General Surgery you can earn about $78,452 – $178,515 a year
- In a Acute Care Hospital you can earn about $85,960 – $184,379 a year
Men, who make up 45% of the industry, earn more than woman at $119,879 – $160,456 a year, while women only earn $102,982 – $150,876 a year. The cities that pay the most are:
- Denver, Colorado
- San Francisco, California
- Portland, Oregon
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Houston, Texas
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
- St. Louis, Missouri
- Cincinnati, Ohio
- New York, New York
- Baltimore, Maryland
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Miami, Florida
- Chicago, Illinois
- Jacksonville, Florida
- Cleveland, Ohio
- Little Rock, Arkansas
- Austin, Texas
- Springfield, Missouri
- Seattle, Washington
As far as salary and job outlook go, this is one of the best careers in nursing to choose.