Nurse anesthetists are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) responsible for administering anesthesia to patients. This practice specialty is unique among nursing careers, as the advanced training required for the job puts nurse anesthetists on a level similar to physicians. Nurse anesthetists work independently, often serving as the sole anesthetist within a practice or facility. To become a nurse anesthetist, nursing professionals must earn a baccalaureate degree, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) credentials. Training requirements also call for a minimum of one year of experience in an acute care or ICU setting.
What Does a Nurse Anesthetist Do?
Nurse anesthetists provide pain management in a variety of clinical settings, often treating surgical patients in hospitals. Additionally, these nurses tend to obstetric patients in labor and delivery, patients with chronic pain or trauma pain, dental patients or outpatients undergoing procedures in clinics offering specialty services like plastic surgery or podiatry. CRNAs are particularly needed in rural areas, where qualified physicians are often in short supply. In many states, they perform virtually all anesthetic administration in sparsely populated areas.
Nurse anesthetists care for patients before, during and after procedures. In most cases, patient care begins with a meeting where the patient’s medications, health status and expectations for the procedure are reviewed. The CRNA determines the appropriate analgesics and administers the correct dosage during the procedure, monitoring the patient’s vital signs continuously. Care ends when the patient has completely recovered from the effects of anesthesia.
Analgesics are delivered via gas, intravenous liquids or oral medication. Typical cases for CRNAs might include general anesthesia, twilight sleep for minor procedures, localized pain relief for outpatient procedures or pain management procedures for chronic pain or trauma patients. Some nurse anesthetists also manage therapy regimens for chronic pain patients.
Potential Work Settings
- Pain clinics
- Trauma centers
- Women’s hospitals
- Surgical centers
- Podiatry clinics
- Plastic surgery clinics
- Dental clinics
What Does It Take to Become a Nurse Anesthetist?
Nurse anesthetists work independently, often in private practice or as the sole anesthetist at a large medical facility. Professionals must be confident in their abilities to relieve patients’ pain without placing them in danger. An effective CRNA is not only an expert in pain-relieving medications and therapies, but is comfortable administering powerful drugs.
Nurse anesthetists spend their days in contact with patients, families, physicians and medical support teams. Each of these people have different degrees of medical knowledge and familiarity with the clinical environment; the ability to communicate effectively with all of them is essential to success.
Good physical health
CRNAs work long hours on their feet, with often unpredictable schedules. Developing safe, effective treatment plans and seeing patients through to recovery can be strenuous work, especially in situations where the CRNA performs most of the anesthesia. Physical stamina and a healthy lifestyle are critical.
After anesthesia has been administered and the procedure is underway, the CRNA’s job is to monitor the patient and ensure a pain-free experience. Surgical procedures can be lengthy, and the CRNA must be constantly attuned to the patient’s vital signs, no matter how tedious the atmosphere.
Medical technology is constantly evolving, and this field is no exception. Aspiring CRNAs should be comfortable using sophisticated machinery and able to train on new equipment as necessary.
Attention to detail
Different procedures call for different drug protocols, and each patient reacts differently to anesthesia. As dosages are calculated, CRNAs must consider patient variables that can impact the effects of treatment, including weight, age, prior surgical history, other medications or drinking habits.
Each patient responds to pain differently; one person’s gentle sigh could be another’s howl of agony. It’s important for CRNAs to understand all possible indications of discomfort, including non-verbal cues. Taking any relevant social, cultural or language elements into consideration can help you alleviate the pain of a suffering patient.
Nurse Anesthetist Information and Job Outlook
How much do nurse anesthetists make?$117,410+$143,550+$169,690+$195,820+
- Median Hourly Wage: $69.00
- Mean Salary: $133,341
Nurses Are in Demand
- 712,000 New Jobs
- 495,500 Replacement Jobs
- 10.2 Million by 2020
- 26% More Nursing Jobs Expected to Be Created between 2010 and 2020
Source: Data taken from The Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accessed: December 2015.
Meet a Nurse Anesthetist
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Resources
CRNA Job Boards
Nurse Anesthetist Certification Resources
Online Nurse Anesthetist Programs
In alphabetical order, here are some accredited online nurse anesthetist programs for your review.
Remember: Before enrolling, please be sure to double-check that the program is accredited, offered online during your period of study, and all eligibility and licensing requirements meet your situation.
- Baylor College of Medicine, Partially Online Doctor of Nursing Practice Program-Nurse Anesthesia
- Drexel University, Blended Online Master of Science in Nursing Anesthesia
- Ohio University, Online Master’s of Science in Nursing – CRNA Path Option
- Quinnipiac University Online, Post-Master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice – Nurse Anesthesia Track
- Texas Wesleyan, Online Master of Health Science Program
- The University of Arizona College of Nursing, Blended Online DNP Nurse Anesthesia Specialty
- University of Detroit-Mercy, Partially Online Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia
- University of Kansas, Partially Online Doctor of Nursing Practice Nurse Anesthesia Program
- University of Michigan-Flint, Part-Time, Primarily Online Doctor of Anesthesia Practice (DrAP) Program
- University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, Online Nurse Anesthesia Program MSN to DNP
If you are an accredited, not-for-profit institution that offers an online nurse anesthetist program and that isn’t listed, please contact us with details about your program, a link to your program page and proof of accreditation.
Nurse Anesthetist Programs
If you notice any errors in the database below or are a college or university that is not represented here, please contact us. We will get on it immediately!