Nurse anesthetists are registered nurses who have completed additional specialized education and training in administering anesthetics. As anesthesia specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) administer anesthetics to patients in collaboration with surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists, podiatrists and other qualified health professionals. They take care of a patient’s anesthesia needs before, during and after surgery or the delivery of a baby. During the procedure, they constanttly monitor the patient’s vital signs, regulate the anesthetic as necessary to ensure optimal patients safety and comfort. Having attained advanced practice status, CRNAs practice with a high degree of autonomy and carry a heavy load of responsibility. During surgery, the patient’s life often rests in the hands of the anesthesia provider, requiring every aspect of a CRNAs education, skills and scientific knowledge. They practice in every setting in which anesthesia is delivered. In rural America, CRNAs are the primary providers of anesthesia care, enabling rural healthcare facilities to offer obstetrical, surgical and trauma stabilization services. CRNAs have been the main providers of anesthesia care of U.S. military personnel on the front lines wince WWI, including current conflicts in the Middle East.
- Surgical centers
- Physician, dentist, and podiatrist offices
- Pain centers
- U.S. military
- Outpatient care centers
- Medical and diagnostic laboratories
Most CRNAs work in hospitals and surgical centers, where most surgeries are scheduled in advance. However, emergency situations can require surgery at any hour of the day. CRNAs generally work a 40-hour week, which may include on-call, weekend or evening hours for emergencies. Those who work in physician and other provider offices will generally have a typical 5-day, 40-hour work week. CRNAs practice on a solo basis, in groups and collaboratively. They may have independent contracts with physician practices or hospitals. Because surgical procedures and anesthesia always pose a risk to patients, CRNAs work can be stressful. Working with anesthetics requires strict observance of safety guidelines. Infection control standards must be stringently followed to protect themselves and their patients from the risk of infection.
According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, CRNAs are in demand and have many opportunities for general or specialty practice throughout the United States. The growing elderly population, which requires more surgical procedures, and the growing emphasis on cost containment in healthcare will fuel the demand for CRNAs.
- Ability to learn advanced sciences necessary to onursing
- Good numerical abilities
- Good verbal ability for speaking, reading and writing
- Ability to work with people, to make decisions based on data, observations and experience and to work under stress
- Ability to make accurate observations, keep records, and work within precise standards
- Good space and form perception and manual dexterity
- Sufficient strength to do moderate lifting
Education and experience required to become a CRNA include:
- A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or other appropriate baccalaureate degree
- A current license as a registered nurse
- At least one year’s experience in an acute care nursing setting
- Graduation from an accredited school of nurse anesthesia educational program, ranging from 24-36 months, depending on university requirements. These programs offer a graduate degree and include clinical training in university-based or large community hospitals
- Passing a national certification examination following graduation.
An applicant for licensure in the State of Nebraska must have a license as a registered nurse in the State, and have national certification issued by the Council on Certification of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs. CRNAs are licensed as Advanced Nurse Practitioners (Anesthetist).
Programs in Nebraska
- BryanLGH Medical Center – Lincoln (Master’s)
Related / Links
Other careers that work in a surgical setting and/or have similar educational requirements:
For more information about a career as a CRNA, credentialing, and accredited programs:
Career information adapted in part from the information provided by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetist, found on the web at www.aana.com.