Certified Registered Nursing Anesthetists (CRNA) administer anesthesia to patients prior to and during surgical or noninvasive procedures. Afterwards, the CRNA provides pain medication and recovery care. To become a CRNA, you must get a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree with a focus in nursing anesthesia.
CRNA Degree Program
Many DNP programs, even for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists can be entered into with only a bachelor's degree. These programs typically require 3-4 years' worth of courses and a substantial amount of time spent in a nurse anesthesia residency. Many DNP programs with a focus in nurse anesthesia include many similar course topics.
By the time you enter a DNP program, you likely have some background in pharmacology. This course will likely be advanced or directed toward nurse anesthetists in particular. Along with the roles of various medication and accessory drugs, you'll look at how these work on patients. You'll also study the common complications that are associated with these medications.
Principles of Nurse Anesthesia
Some of the principles you'll study are current trends in anesthesia in the medical field. You'll likely get practical instruction and practice inserting IVs and catheters into simulated patients. The course will look at the use of anesthesia in several areas, including surgical, neuro surgery, cardio surgery, pediatrics, and obstetrics. You'll also learn about pain blocks. On top of equipment and techniques, you'll also look at how to write for scientific publications.
With a health policy course, you'll learn all about implementing and changing policy in health care. You'll study current policies and the U.S. political sectors. You'll study how to develop strategies for both public and private sectors, as well as multicultural and handicapped patients. On top of this, you'll learn how health policies are to be implemented into a healthcare facility to provide better patient care.
In the advanced or applied physiology course as part of a CRNA program, you'll look at anatomy and physiology as it is related to anesthesia. You'll look at how the respiratory and cardiovascular systems work, and how different body structures process anesthesia differently. The course will also delve into the effect surgery has on the different body systems.
Another duty CRNAs have is to prescribe medication to reduce post-surgical pain. A pain management course often goes hand-in-hand with pharmacology to help you develop the knowledge necessary to complete this task. Many of these pain medications are Schedule II narcotics and opioids. These often have a lot of negative side effects, are traded on the black market, or cause addiction. It is important to know how and when to use these medications, as well as how they react to different types of patients.
Of course, as mentioned previously, a DNP program would not be acceptable without a residency. These residencies will likely take place in several different departments, including surgery and obstetrics. Here, you'll put your skills into practice, and shadow under a licensed CRNA, who can monitor your education and practice.
CRNA Job Requirements and Salary
The National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) provides initial and continued certification for nurse anesthetists. The National Certification Exam (NCE) is used to test eligibility and knowledge for certification. After your initial certification, you must be re-certified every four years. During these four years, you'll be required to complete four modules, 60 Class A credits, and 40 Class B credits. This Continued Professional Certification (CPC) Program is essentially a continuing education program.
Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), CRNAs made an average salary of $181,040 in 2019. The highest paying facilities for that same year for CRNAs were outpatient care centers, where surgeries and procedures were completed within one day. Of course, each state varies in pay, but the BLS shows that Wyoming and Montana were the best paying states of 2019 at $243,310 and $239,380 respectively.
In 2019, the BLS calculated there would be a 14% job increase in CRNAs by 2029. That is believed to be an increase in roughly 6,200 more CRNAs.
A Certified Registered Nursing Anesthetist (CRNA) degree can prepare you to provide patients with anesthesia and pain medication. You must complete a DNP program focused on nurse anesthesia and be certified by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) to pursue this career.