Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) is a nurse that specializes in the field of anesthetics. They are responsible for caring for a patient before, during and after surgery. As a group, they are responsible for administering over 27 million anesthetics each year to patients seeking healthcare services and treatments in the United States.
CRNAs usually work under a licensed anesthesiologist. They usually begin working with a patient before surgery, as they perform a physical exam and assessment to ensure the patient will receive the right amount of anesthetic through an appropriate technique and that no health problems or allergies of the patient have been overlooked. They then assist in administering the anesthetic and maintaining it once the patient is in surgery.
Finally, the monitor the patient during the surgery recovery period until the patient is removed from the recover room to traditional nursing care.
Education: CRNAs must be accredited and licensed in order to administer anesthetics to patients. In order to obtain accreditation and licensure, CRNAs must attend an education program, as well as pass a national licensing exam. Most education programs are 2-3 years in length and require classroom and clinical setting work. While classes are heavily focused in the science field, clinical work consists of practicing and mastering different techniques for administering anesthetics. An extensive nursing education is required in order to apply to a CRNA accreditation and licensing program. Most programs require a bachelor's degree in nursing, a registered nurse license, and experience of a year or more in providing acute care to patients in a healthcare facility. Once CRNAs have obtained their certification and license, they must continuously be educated on the new information and developments in their fields. In addition, they must be recertified and licensed every 6 years.
Where to work: CRNAs do have a few different options of places to work, although most are employed in hospitals. However, some CRNAs choose to work in pain clinics, physician offices and emergency ambulatory services, where they are mostly responsible for administering pain relievers to patients with significant injuries or trauma. In addition, many small communities and rural areas employ CRNAs to administer anesthetics for pain due to the inability to afford a full time anesthesiologist.
Average Pay: Of nurses, CRNAs are one of the highest paid groups. The average salary for a CRNA within the last few years was $115,000, although it can range from $95,000 - $180,000.
Job Outlook: Job opportunities and employment of CRNAs is expected to grow in coming years, due to the fact they provide high-quality care to patients while being affordable to hospitals. Healthcare costs are on the rise and hospital administrators are constantly looking for ways to reduce their costs. Employing CRNAs to administer anesthetics and monitor patients during surgery is more affordable than hiring anesthesiologists, thus more hospitals are opting for them. This is opening up many job opportunities for new licensees and those looking to move to a different healthcare setting or workplace.
Work Environment: CRNAs work under the direction of a licensed anesthesiologist and often serve as part of a surgery team consisting of doctors, surgeons, nurses and other healthcare professionals. Most work in large facilities, such as hospitals, and most work a 40 hour week. However, some positions do require on-call duty, as emergency surgery and pain management is often needed at times outside of the traditional working hours of a CRNA.