What is a nurse anesthetist?
This medical professional is a registered nurse who is trained specially in the use of anesthesia. They are also known as Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). In addition to being trained in the use of anesthesia they are also trained in pain management. During surgery, childbirth, illness, and trauma a nurse anesthetist helps relieve the discomfort of patients. In the United States for more than 150 years nurse anesthetist have been providing anesthesia care and is the oldest nurse specialty group. Today a nurse anesthetist is the primary anesthesia providers to the United States service women and men aboard and at home. One of the first nurse anesthetists was Catherine S. Lawrence who administered anesthesia during the Civil War along with other nurses. Sister Mary Bernard, a catholic nun who practiced at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1877 is the “first” official nurse anesthetist recognized. Today nurse anesthetist administers approximately 34 million anesthetics annually.
Job description of a nurse anesthetist
A nurse anesthetist’s job description is much the same as an anesthesiologist with one difference. When you are a nurse anesthetist, your job falls under the practice of nursing and an anesthesiologist job falls under the practice of medicine. Being a nurse anesthetist means that you are an advance practiced nurse who has specialized in anesthesia.
Being a nurse anesthetist your job may include:
- Being responsible for administering anesthesia to the patient and then monitoring them from before the procedure to after the procedure.
- Reviewing the patient’s medical history and treatment plan
- Mixing the medications that will be used for the patient during the procedure they are having.
- After giving the patient the anesthetic they will keep a close eye on the vital signs of the patient to ensure that they are getting the right amount. If they are not then the nurse anesthetist may have to make some changes to the dosage and the speed of the delivery of the medication during the procedure.
- When surgery is over you will be responsible for helping the patient to come out of anesthesia correctly which would require close monitoring to make sure that the patient is recovering properly.
A nurse anesthetist also needs to possess critical thinking skills, be organized, and have good teaching skills. You will also need to be able to think under pressure and to act decisively. You should also be in good shape physically because you will have to stand for long periods of time and do a lot of walking during the day.
How to become a nurse anesthetist?
In 1909 the first school of nurse anesthesia was formed at St. Vincent Hospital in Portland, Oregon with the time to becoming a nurse anesthesia only being 7 months long. Today it takes at least 7 years of education and experience. To become a nurse anesthetist you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing along with gaining experience working as a registered nurse in critical care. Once you have your bachelor’s degree you need to work on getting your master’s degree in nurse anesthetist. The final step is getting your specialty certification.
In order to apply to a nurse anesthesia program you should have your register nurse license and it should be in good standing. Once you finish your register nurse program you need to pass the National Council Licensing Exam for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN). Check your state’s requirements for getting a registered nurse license because some states have additional requirements before getting one.
In addition to getting your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) you should also have at least 1 year of experience working in acute care nursing as a registered nurse. Some of the course work that you must complete in order to get your bachelor’s degree is biology, human anatomy, patho-physiology, psychology, and pharmacology. You will also have to complete clinical rotations in the major health departments such as pediatrics, surgery, mental health, and women’s health. You should try to maintain a science grade point average (GPA) and an overall GPA of 3.0 or better because this is what many nurse anesthetist programs requires you to have.
Working toward your master’s decree you need to have at least 1 year professional hands-on experience in critical care nursing which can be gotten by working in a cardiac care unit, surgical intensive care unit, or intensive care unit. To get your master’s degree you will need to have at least 27 months of going full time. During these 27 months you will learn how to manage emergency and surgical situations in which patients require anesthesia. You will also learn how to operate anesthesia equipment. Some of the courses you would have include geriatric anesthesia, pain management, obstetric anesthesia, and anesthesia biochemistry. You will also have many supervised clinical experiences that involve diverse anesthesia situations that range from plastic surgery to eye surgery to open-heart surgery.
It is important that the school where you get your master’s degree in nurse anesthesia is an accredited school because this is necessary in order to get your nurse anesthetist certification. You also need to make sure that you have an unrestricted registered license. To get your certification you need to pass the National Certification Exam (NCE) that is given by the National Board of Certification & Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists. (NBCRNA) Check with your state to see if this is all you need to practice as a nurse anesthetist because there are some states that require you to work in a specific department such as obstetrics, cardiac, or endoscopy.
Even when you are certified as a nurse anesthetist you will still need to make sure that you keep your registered nurse license valid. In order to keep your registered nurse license valid you will need to periodically complete professional development and regulations that are set by your state. You will also need to make sure that you complete 40 hours of approved continuing education every 2 years. In order to maintain your nurse anesthetist license you will need to submit documentation of employment history and valid licensure.
Work environment and schedule
A nurse anesthetist will normally work in emergency rooms and operating rooms. They can also work as first responders and work as independent practitioners in collaboration with physicians. This means it is common for nurse anesthetists to work independently in a rural setting such as a rural hospital or in practices in rural communities where they do not have the funds that are necessary to also have a anesthesiologist on their staff. By letting a nurse anesthetist conduct anesthetic procedures it allows these various facilities to do procedures they would not have been able to do and would have had to refer their patients to larger hospitals where there is an anesthesiologist on staff. Some nurse anesthetist will work in intensive and critical care floors, outpatient centers, hospital operating rooms, and labor and delivery. There are some that work for various physician offices such as plastic surgeons or dentist’s offices.
The schedule of a nurse anesthetist will vary according to the place where they are working. They could work day shift, night shift, or split shifts and some work weekends and holidays, especially if they are working in the emergency room. Many times a nurse anesthetist will be on-call if they work in a hospital setting in a rural area or in an emergency room. If they are working in a group practice they may just work a regular shift 5 days a week. Many times their schedule will depend on what the surgery schedule is for that day.
Their work environment will be clean and sterile. Being a nurse anesthetist you will need to have good people skills as you may be dealing with patients of all ages and some who have never had any type of surgery before and are nervous. Seeing the patient before they receive the anesthesia it would be the nurse anesthetist’s job to ensure the patient that everything will be okay and explaining to them what is going to happen when they receive the anesthesia and what is going to happen after the procedure. They will also check their vital signs and go over the patient’s medical history.
A typical scenario for a day in the life of a nurse anesthetist could be:
- Talking to the patient before the surgery to let them know what is going to happen and answering any questions they might have.
- Taking the patients vital signs and recording them.
- Dispensing the sedatives to the patient which can be intravenous, spinal, or local.
- They will also oversee the various types of anesthetics that have been recommended by the anesthesiologist to stimulate partial or total loss of sensation or consciousness to the patient during the surgery.
- Fitting the mask to the face of the patient so they can receive oxygen during the surgery.
- Checking to make sure that all the necessary equipment is available and arranging the equipment like oxygen.
- Controlling the gas/oxygen output according to the level that is necessary for this particular surgery.
- Maintaining a record of the patient’s eye pupils, watching the vital signs closely as it is displayed in the equipment, and the color of their skin letting the surgeon know if there is any problem.
- In some cases it may be the nurse anesthetist who records the medication they are using and how much in the medication log as most anesthetic medications are a controlled substance and have to be accounted for.
Pros and cons of being a Nurse Anesthetist
The best part of your job is that you are close to patients that run into surgical procedures. As a nurse anesthetist, you’ll be there for patients to administer the right amount of anesthesia that is being used in medical and surgical procedures.
Your rewarding is to be helping patients in the pre-operative surgical period and after the surgical period with managing the anesthesia and easing their pain. Since many will count on you to fulfill your tasks and your duties, you’ll be part of the patient’s life as well you’ll be communicating with other specialties professionals such as doctors.
One of the con when working as a nurse anesthetist are the irregular hours and the long shifts. Many times you’ll job will assume having to be available in emergency situations. Still you’ll get the main advantage of deciding your own working schedule as well as where to live. This is a great success, compared to other nurse professionals.
The road for a nurse anesthetist will require a huge amount of education and some years of study. The study requirements will include a Bachelor’s Degree, and a Master’s Degree and that is not all you’ll need a year in which you gain nurse experience. To all of these, you can add the RN exam and the state certification exams. However, even with the whole education requirements and the expenses of them being very high the salary of a nurse anesthetist is actually very good.
Compared to other nurses and other healthcare professionals nurse anesthetists make more. Those who already obtained a certification and are registered will earn a salary that reaches $160,192 per year. The salary will be influenced, but the income is one considered to be among the highest in all nursing specialties.
Nurse Anesthetist job growth
The level of job satisfaction is extremely good since this job is of great aid in many cases across the country. The job outlook for a nurse anesthetist has a job growth projection that reaches at 30%, having a higher rate of growth estimation than many other job occupations that can be encountered in the medical field.
One of the circumstances that might have led to this percentage is the shortage of nurses across the country and the growing number of demanding in various age categories and within the industry of medical field.
When it comes to the work environment there are plenty of chances for even for advancement in this field- this depending mainly on the educational level that one has accomplished as well as the years of experience and let’s not forget plenty of career opportunities. Nurse Anesthetists can find work in the public as well in the private system from private clinics to hospitals and military services and other facilities.
Nurse anesthetist salary
On average a nurse anesthetist makes $154,390 annually but what the exact annual salary is depends on factors such as how many years of experience you have, the geographic location, where you work, and other factors. Recent graduates are naturally at the bottom of the salary ladder but they can still earn on average $100,000 a year.
Five of the top paying states include:
- $215,720 in Wyoming
- $208,700 in Nevada
- $185,800 in the District of Columbia
- $181,650 in Connecticut
- $176,470 in Oregon
The 5 top paying industries are:
- $189,330 working in dentist’s offices
- $176.740 working in the offices of other health practitioners
- $163,290 working in outpatient care centers
- $163,220 working in general surgical and medical hospitals
- $162,230 working in specialty hospitals
All of the above salaries are annual salaries. In addition to the great salaries most offer nurse anesthetist bonus packages that can include sick days, vacation days, holidays, pension, social security, life and health insurance that may also cover the family, 401K, personal days, and dental and vision care. If you are working in a hospital setting that requires you to be on call you may either get a cell phone or paid a stipend on your cell phone bill. Some may even supply uniforms.
Salary of a Nurse Anesthetist in 2015
The salary of a nurse anesthetist in the US is influenced by the type of employer and the field in which you are operating. Wages will also vary according to the years of your experience at the working place and also according to the training that you’ve earned.
In 2015, the salary of a nurse anesthetist is influenced mainly by the same factors and the number of demanding is increasing due to the aging and varied types of people that are in need for these professionals.
The best paying states that can be found in the US will include a salary that can start from $172,815 per year and grow up to $215,725 per year. These amounts can be similar, less or more, mainly depending on the state and where you can find work. Among the best paying states, you can add Pennsylvania, Texas, Nevada, Oregon and other that have an improved income that will allow you to combine the living expenses with everything. The job outlook is great, to put it simply. Nurse anesthetists have their opportunities to choose from the area in which they can work and the type of employer.
People will always be in need of these professionals that represent a valuable asset to the healthcare system and the pre and post-operative surgical procedures.
Nurse Anesthetist Salary in 2016
The income of a certified nurse anesthetist in 2016, in the United States, is mainly estimated at a median average that gets around $136,938 per year. The starting point in the salary of these professionals according to Payscale reaches at $94,853 per year and climbs up to $178,390 per year. This income can increase based on the benefits that are added.
For instance, the bonuses added to the salary package can go as far as $10,898 while the profit sharing is estimated to range between $1,032 and $22,149. The commission can reach up to $8,005 this leading in the end to a total payment that starts from $96,365 per year and climbs up to $188,289 per year.
The salaries differ based on the geographical location, years of experience and type of employment. When it comes to the payment in various regions, the main factors that affect and impact the income of these professionals in that particular area are the costs of living and the living expenses. The national average for a certified nurse anesthetist reaches at $141,699 per year. Great locations that advantage someone working as a certified nurse anesthetist are to be found in Philadelphia with a median income of $149,257 per year that is above the national average as well as New York, with a median average reaching at $146,472 per year.
On the other side incomes that are situated below the national average can be found in Tampa where the median payment reaches at $130,929 per year while in Alaska the income is estimated also below the national average reaching at $102,010 per year.
When it comes to the years of experience in the field, the salaries vary as well. For an entry-level certified nurse anesthetist, the income has a starting point of $85,265 and can climb up to $163,748 per year. These figure estimations being without any bonuses or profit sharing. A mid-career professional with 5 to 10 years in the field can expect to have an income that ranges from $101,280 per year and $180,880 per year.
The salaries will continue to grow gradually as these professionals gather up more experience in the field. For instance, a certified nurse anesthetist with more than 20 years of experience at the working site can expect at an income that ranges from $121,767 per year and up to $196,953 per year, as early reminded without any benefits added to the salary package.
Nurse anesthetist salary in Canada, Australia and UK
Working as a nurse anesthetist in the UK you would earn from 60,988-101,961 each year along with a yearly bonus of 5,530. In Canada the annual salary would me CAD$160,000. Working in Australia you would also get a yearly bonus of AUS$9,094 along with a yearly salary of AUS$165,090.
Conclusion on nurse anesthetist salary
Although it takes at least 7 years of combined education and experience to become a nurse anesthetist and a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nursing in the end it is worth it. Breaking down the average yearly salary you will be making over $50 an hour and there is no factory where you can earn that much an hour. In addition to the salary look at the bonus package that is offered to you as that will add to the amount you are making. If you like working in a fast pace work environment, are a people person, and can work under pressure when there are emergencies this is the job for you.
- First Published Date: 29 July, 2014
- Last Updated Date: 20 August, 2016