Nurse Anesthetist Degree

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What is a Nurse Anesthetist?

Nurse Anesthetist or Certified Nurse Anesthetist is a nurse practitioner specializing in the field of study known as anesthesia.  In the practice of medicine, anesthesia is defined as a temporary state being induced to lose sensation and/or awareness.  A Nurse Anesthetist are trained to provide a range of anesthesia under the supervision of a qualified health professional such as a podiatrist, physician, dentist or anesthesiologist.   Nurse Anesthetists is a type of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse and are well-respected and highly compensated medical professionals.

What is a CRNA?

CRNA is the acronym used for a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.  A CRNA is an advanced RN with a graduate-level degree who is certified within anesthesia.  CRNA's administer anesthesia for a range of procedures and surgeries.  They work closely with medical professionals such as anesthesiologists and physicians before, during, and after medical procedures.  A CRNA works in a number of different settings within healthcare such as ambulatory care facilities, hospitals, dental offices, trauma wards, surgical centers, military installations, and pain management facilities.

What Does a CRNA Do?

CRNA's will provide anesthesia for a wide range of procedures in a number of healthcare settings from traditional hospitals to emergency rooms.  Outside the operating room, a CRNA may perform a host of administrative functions such as financial management, quality assurance audits, human resources, and risk management assessments.  Other services performed by a CRNA can include working with attending physicians with patients in an MRI lab, cardiac catherization, and lithotripsy treatment centers.

In rural areas, a CRNA is often the only anesthesia provider employed by medical facilities.  Healthcare organizations such as pain management centers, surgical centers, trauma units, and obstetrician divisions in remote areas will typically employ a CRNA in lieu of anesthesiologists.

The rapidly growing field for Nurse Anesthetists is estimated to rapidly grow in the coming decade.  In fact, the BLS estimates growth to be an astounding 31% through 2024 which is five times the national average job growth outlook.  Over 90% of Nurse Anesthetist professionals are represented by the AANA, American Association of Nurse Anesthetists.

How is a CRNA Different from an Anesthesiologist?

Anesthesiologists are physicians that have attended medical school, completed the requisite internships and rotations with mandated residency training at an approved hospital.  On the other hand, a CRNA is a nursing professional that is qualified to administer anesthesia.  CRNA's will hold an RN plus an additional two years of schooling in anesthesia to earn their credentials.  In most cases, a CRNA will work under the direct supervisions of a physician or a board certified anesthesiologist.  Both a CRNA and an anesthesiologist are highly capable, well-trained medical professionals.

Is a CRNA a type of APRN?

A CRNA is one of four primary types of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN).  To be classified as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, you will be required to meet a series of qualifications.  Common qualifications of an APRN include the following:

  • Have an degree as a Registered Nurse - albeit a Post-Masters, Masters, or Doctorate
  • Can provide specialty care and primary to patients
  • Pass the board certified national examination
  • Provide necessary patient education regarding health issues or concerns
  • Coordinate care for patients and advocate prudently
  • Refer patients to specialists and physicians

Different Types of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses

Other types of notable APRN disciplines include the following 4 types of nursing specialties:

  1. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) – A CRNA is an APRN that provides anesthesia to patients in a wide variety of medical settings.  CRNA's will provide anesthesia care to the infirm and healthy patients prior to a variety of surgical applications.
  2. Certified Nurse Practitioners (CNP) – Certified Nurse Practitioners are APRN specialists working closely with attending physicians.  CNP's are charged with performing a variety of research and advocating for patients as specialists or generalists.
  3. Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) – A CNM melds a traditional midwife with the duties of a gynecologist.  Certified Nurse Midwives assist with services from childbirth and family planning to postpartum care.
  4. Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) – A Clinical Nurse Specialist are nurses providing specialized care and/or primary care for patients.  Specializations can be segmented by care type, medical setting, disease type, demographics, and health concentration.

How to Become a Nurse Anesthetist

Students who are curious about how to become a CRNA or Nurse Anesthetist will need to step through a series of academic and professional requirements prior to working independently at a qualified healthcare facility.

Earning your CRNA will require you to successfully complete an BSN or equivalent nursing degree.  Following that step, you will need to obtain your license as a Registered Nurse by passing the NCLEX.  Next, you will need to get 1-2 years of valuable work experience in an approved critical care setting.  Lastly, you will need to gain admissions to an accredited graduate-level CRNA program such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).  However, in some cases you may be required to hold a post-master's or doctorate degree in order to practice as a CRNA.  Make sure to check with your state nursing board for requirements and guidelines.

Students applying to an accredited university will need to meet or exceed the schools admissions requirements.  Typical prerequisites include qualifying work experience in the field, a BA or BS in nursing or a related field along with GRE and GPA minimum thresholds.  Some nursing colleges will require students to hold an RN prior to application to an MSN or equivalent degree program.  Gather admissions information well in advance and know your options prior to completing college applications.

Typical CRNA degree programs will last 2 years based on full time study.  After successfully completing the CRNA degree, students will be required to take and pass a board-certified nursing examination administered by the NBCRNA.  Earning a graduate degree from an accredited, state-approved college or university in conjunction with work experience, licensure, and successfully passing the certification exam(s) will provide you with the ability to start work as a CRNA.

Top Nurse Anesthetist Degree

Online Nurse Anesthetist Degrees

Qualifying students can learn about traditional and online CRNA degree options available at accredited colleges with our school finder tools.  Utilizing technology and latent curiosity, will lead students to great university programs for future Nurse Anesthetists.  Students electing to study via distance learning can join lectures remotely, participate in online discussions, complete online projects, and learn about vital material through digital textbooks without commuting to a physical classroom.

You can find universities that offer traditional degree programs, online only degrees, and hybrid degree programs in nursing.  A hybrid degree blends the best of a distance learning education with a traditional on-campus degree program.  Learning both online and on-campus may be a valuable means to a great education with the flexibility you require in your busy schedule.  Take the time to learn about your online nursing degree options by checking out schools that offer CRNA programs today.

Online Colleges Offering Degrees in Nurse Anesthetist

Employment for a CRNA & Specializations

For students that earn a college degree in Nurse Anesthetist, there are several fields of specialization that one can pursue.  The options range from audiologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, physician assistant, surgeon, physician, registered nurse, and speech-language pathologist to name a few possible career tracks.

Largest Employers of Nurse Anesthetists

  • Physicians’ Offices                           21,460
  • Medical and Surgical Hospitals    11,850
  • Outpatient Care Facilities               1,820
  • Offices of Health Practitioners      1,650
  • Federal Government                         980

States Employing the Most Number of Nurse Anesthetists

  1. Texas                      4,700
  2. Ohio                        2,510
  3. North Carolina     2,440
  4. Pennsylvania        2,310
  5. Florida                   2,030

CRNA Salary and Career Outlook

The CRNA job outlook is well above the average.   In fact, CRNA and Nurse Anesthetist job outlook is forecast at a scorching 31% projected growth rate through 2024 according to the BLS.  This rapid CRNA job growth will add some 53, 400 jobs to the workforce during this reporting period.

The annual median income for a Nurse Anesthetist is $160,270 which translates to an hourly wage of $77.05.  Given the broad nature of the Nurse Anesthetist degree, compensation after graduation can vary greatly from career field to career field given prior experience and geographic location.  Related fields include teaching, research, physician assistant, physical therapy, surgeon and registered nurse.

Nurse Anesthetists Salary by State

  1. Montana         $242,140
  2. Wyoming        $233,400
  3. California       $215,530
  4. Oregon            $199,860
  5. Nevada            $192,330

What Does a Nurse Anesthetist Do?

According to a recent survey of active Nurse Anesthetists conducted by the U. S. Department of Labor, a typical day can be quite varied.  Depending on the work setting and defined responsibilities for that specific work environment, the daily activities for a nurse anesthetists will fluctuate.  Generally, you will find NA’s have significantly greater latitude to make decisions and counsel patients versus an RN.  The following to represent the majority of the job duties associated with a nurse anesthetist:

  • Diagnose patients as they arrive in the clinic or hospital – diagnosis can include monitoring a patient’s heart rate, pulse, pupil dilation, skin color, non-verbal cues, respiratory system, blood pressure, ventilation, and urine.
  • Perform screenings – A nurse anesthetist will perform pre-anesthetic screenings which include a physical and verbal evaluation.
  • Manage resources – Nurse anesthetists will organize, select, order, and prepare the necessary equipment and resources associated with the administration of anesthetic drugs, fluids, blood, accessory drugs, and adjuvant drugs.
  • Manage vitals – NA’s will work closely with patients and other nursing professionals to actively manage pulmonary and airway status of a patient. Techniques for doing so may include respiratory therapy, endotracheal intubation, pharmacological support, mechanical ventilation, and extubation.
  • Communication – Crisp and concise communication with other medical providers along with direct communication with patients & family members is a cornerstone of the nurse anesthetists position.  Consultations and patient referrals are also a key function for many NA’s.

Job Titles of a Nurse Anesthetist

Depending on the clinic or hospital and region of the country, a Nurse Anesthetists may be called by different titles with varying job responsibilities.  A sampling of job titles associated and nomenclature associated with the core job responsibility of a Nurse Anesthetist include:

  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
  • Staff Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
  • Associate Professor Program Director Nurse Anesthesia
  • Staff Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (Staff CRNA)
  • Chief Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (Chief CRNA)
  • Chief Nurse Anesthetist, Professor/Nurse Anesthetist
  • Senior Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (Senior CRNA)
  • Anesthesia Service (Staff CRNA)
  • Staff Nurse Anesthetist

For more information about earning a Nursing Anesthetist degree, simply visit the accredited colleges and universities below or visit our online nursing resource page or career portal to learn more careers in nursing.

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Career Summary: Nurse anesthetist Major




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