Career as a Nurse Anesthetist

In the surgery room, the doctor may not be highest paid healthcare professional because there is a specialist that keeps any eye on the anesthesia being administered in your vein. That is the job of a nurse practitioner that specializes in providing anesthetic care to the patient – the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. Simply called nurse anesthetist, these nursing practitioners is one of the elite of the nursing profession because of their advanced nursing school training.

Historical records show that the nurse anesthetist job is not a new one since it was Catherine S. Lawrence who revolutionized this nursing specialization by becoming the first nurse anesthetist as she helped wounded men during the American Civil War. In 1909, Oregon became the first state that established a nursing school that offered classes in anesthetics to nurses. The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists was formally organized in 1931 to oversee the development of this nursing specialization. By 1952, the AANA established the first nationally-recognized certification process for nurse anesthetist. Nurses who focus on this field need to be certified before they can practice as nurse anesthetists.

In the past, the nursing anesthetist position was dominated by female up to the 1960s before it was realized that anesthesiology was a very dangerous profession that it should be handled by medical specialists that we called anesthesiologists. Some have become outspoken about the fact that the salaries of certified nurse anesthetist became so high that they even earned more than doctors and physicians.

The fact is anesthesiology is a field that deals with life and death. Giving anesthetics can be challenging because patients have different reactions to anesthesia since they need different mixes of drugs for reasons that include existing health conditions to the type of surgery being performed. So when medical personnel provide the wrong dosage and mixture then it would be a disaster since it can cause serious trauma or even death.

The person that is directly involved with the drug preparation is the nurse anesthetist because he/she is the one who knows how much anesthetics are being administered and which parts of the patient’s body it is applied. Becoming a nurse anesthetist is not a clear walk in the park. An aspiring nurse must graduate with a four-year Bachelor of Arts in Nursing degree and then become a Registered Nurse. After that, they need to take at least one year in extensive acute nursing care experience. Once they have completed all the necessary requirements and prerequisites, an aspiring nurse anesthetist may start their real education.

They take a nurse anesthetist program that involves an additional 24-36 months of advanced nursing education and from there they need to be accredited by the AANA. Many nurse anesthetist candidates gain the necessary education through online nursing schools where they earn their Masters of Science degree. They can also move on to take advanced course and take up Doctorate in Nursing Anesthetics.

Once you complete your nursing education and training then you are certainly ready to take up the role of being a nurse anesthetist. Unlike their registered nurses who are registered through their state certifications, nurse anesthetists are certified nationally so that they can work anywhere in the United States without having to retake certification in various states.

Nurse anesthetists earn about $150,000 a year. Their work shifts are usually made of three 12-hour shifts every week and they have four-day breaks. Depending upon the medical institution, nurse anesthetist earns quite well depending their specialization and experience.

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