Many schools offer hybrid master's degree programs that provide training for nurse anesthetists that include a combination of online and in-person clinical instruction. However, master's degree programs that offer more generalized nursing training with a focus on education or management may cover some of the same principles and can be found fully online. These programs are designed to accommodate the schedules of working nurses, letting them access class materials and complete assignments at any time. There are extensive clinical practice requirements, and the student can often complete these hours at a nearby medical facility. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree or higher in nursing and have a valid nursing license. Master's programs for nurse anesthetists generally take two years to complete.
Master's Degree in Nurse Anesthesia
Online master's degree programs in nurse anesthesia provide theoretical and practical training in a registered nursing specialty. Programs address pain relief both as a medical end in itself and as a necessary adjunct to surgery. Students refresh their knowledge of anatomy and physiology in learning the physiological effects of anesthesia and engage ethical, professional, and economic issues related to the practice of medicine. Applicants to a master's degree program generally need to have earned at least a bachelor's degree in nursing and maintained a 3.0 grade point average. Candidates with a master's degree in some other nursing discipline are also eligible.
Program Information and Requirements
Courses and course materials in an online master's degree program in nurse anesthesia are often designed to be accessible 24 hours a day for maximum scheduling flexibility. Most programs are hybrids of online and traditional instruction. Clinical practicums are completed at a participating medical facility, while academic work may be completed online or on campus. Student-to-teacher and student-to-student interactions are handled via discussion boards and e-mail. A master's degree is typically earned in two years.
Schools may use a professional content management system such as Blackboard or their own proprietary system. Students need a relatively new Windows or Mac personal computer, productivity software such as Microsoft Office and a broadband Internet connection to participate.
List of Common Nurse Anesthesia Courses
Master's degree programs in nurse anesthesia are often divided into general nursing courses and courses related to anesthesiology. There is no thesis requirement.
Nurse Anesthesia Fundamentals
This course addresses anesthesia theory and the concepts underlying the safe application of anesthetic care. The effects of anesthesia on cognition and motor skills before, during, and after surgery are a primary emphasis.
Students in this course learn to observe symptoms and evaluate the physical condition of patients at all ages. Topics covered also include using health assessments to formulate a diagnosis.
Anatomy and Physiology for Nurse Anesthetists
This course reviews anatomy and physiology content learned in previous courses and relates the material to the biochemical effects of anesthesia on the body. Cell physiology, electrolytes, and the cardiovascular, hematologic, and respiratory systems are among the topics covered.
Pharmacology for Nurse Anesthetists
Students in this course learn about common types of medication and their therapeutic effects and side effects. Course content emphasizes potential interactions between anesthesia and pharmaceuticals.
Career Information for Nurse Anesthesia Graduates
Nurses who graduate from a nurse anesthetist master's degree program are qualified to work as nurse anesthetists; nurse anesthetists are advanced practice specialist registered nurses. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of registered nurses will increase 12% from 2018 to 2028 (www.bls.gov). Demand for nurse anesthetists is likely to be even higher, especially because there will be an overall increase in demand for healthcare services due to large numbers of newly insured Americans. According to the BLS, as of May 2018 nurse anesthetists earned a median salary of $167,950.
Continuing Education Information
Nurse anesthetists who want to become senior-level practitioners or administrators can earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. Nurses interested in research and teaching can pursue a Ph.D. in nursing. Both types of doctoral degree programs are available online.
Master's degrees in nurse anesthesia are available in a partially online format, blending online study with in-person clinical work to develop the complete skill set students will need to succeed on the job. For those looking to advance to upper-level positions in healthcare, doctorate degrees are available in an online format.