Becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist requires significant education and knowledge. CRN Anesthetists work alongside physicians, or sometimes independently, in the administering of anesthesia, and other pain management measures. Requirements differ by state, and job demand is higher in more rural areas where anesthetists are not available, or hospitals are underserved.
Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) administer anesthesia to patients undergoing certain medical procedures and provide pain management services as well. They work alongside other healthcare professionals, such as surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists, ophthalmologists and podiatrists. Experienced registered nurses may pursue this advanced practice specialty by completing a master's degree program in nurse anesthesia, which typically includes a residency. Graduates can earn certification by passing an exam.
|Required Education||Master's degree|
|Other Requirements||Clinical experience and residency; RN licensure|
|Job Growth (2014-2024)*||31% for all nurse anesthetists|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$157,140 for all nurse anesthetists|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Salary Information
Nurse anesthetists earned a median salary of $157,140 in May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The lowest-paid ten percent earned $105,410 or less and the highest-paid ten percent earned $187,200 or more. A CRNA's salary can vary based on his or her level of experience. PayScale.com reports that, as of October 2016, CRNAs with less than one year of experience earned a median salary of $122,878, while CRNAs who had been working for over 20 years earned a median salary of $156,852.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Career Information
CRNAs often work in rural areas, providing anesthesia care at a reduced cost to the medically underserved. In some states, nurse anesthetists may work independently without the supervision of a physician. CRNAs conduct pre-anesthetic evaluations, administer anesthesia and provide post-anesthesia care. They may administer local, general or regional anesthesia, as well as intravenous sedation. Responsibilities include monitoring patients as they are under or recovering from anesthesia, giving drugs or fluids, and providing ventilator support as necessary. They also provide pain relief therapy through the use of drugs or anesthetic techniques.
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Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Education Requirements
In order to become a CRNA, one must first earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or a related bachelor's degree. Students enrolled in these programs take courses in anatomy, physiology, psychology, microbiology, nutrition, chemistry and nursing. Clinical experience is also required at a hospital or other clinical facility. Graduates must take the National Council Licensure Examination in registered nursing (NCLEX-RN) to obtain licensure as a registered nurse (RN). Some states may have additional licensing requirements. Aspiring CRNAs should gain at least one year of experience working as a licensed RN.
The next step is to enroll in a master's degree program in nurse anesthesia that is accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA). These programs generally take 24-36 months to complete and include courses in pharmacology, anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, physics, pain management and pathophysiology. Programs generally include a research component and clinical residency. The residency allows students to gain experience with patients and learn how to apply anesthesia techniques. Graduates of this program must pass the certification examination administered by the Council on Certification of Nurse Anesthetists (CCNA). Continuing education is required to maintain certification every two years.
Nurse anesthetists first pursue an undergraduate degree in nursing or a related field, and then complete a master's degree to gain specialized knowledge as a nurse anesthetist. CRNAs must be certified and maintain the relevant licensure for their state. This is a high earning and fast growing field of nursing.