Nursing is an occupation that has always commanded a high level of respect and admiration, and not just because the job requires a level of caring and compassion that most of us can only dream of, but also because of the wealth of knowledge that has to be learned before anyone can even think how to become a nurse anesthetist.
How to Become a Nurse Anesthetist
While many are happy to complete their education and move onto a long career in their chosen field of nursing, there are others who want to continue to learn, and work towards a specific specialty within their field. With that in mind, let’s look at how to become a nurse anesthetist, and what steps have to be taken in order for a registered nurse to make that next career step.
The first thing that you have to understand is that the position of nurse anesthetist ranks relatively high on the medical pay scale, so the competition for those spots is going to be tough.
If you are entering nursing with the end goal being a career as an anesthetist, then you’d best be prepared to put in a lot of hard work, and make sure that you perform at very high levels during all phases of your education. That begins by earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and maintaining a GPA of at least 3.0 while doing so; scoring lower could make advancing to the next level a bit of a tough slog that may very well ultimately end in disappointment.
Before even thinking about taking the next step, you really have to take the time to get licensed as a registered nurse, and then complete at least one to three years of practical work experience.
To improve your chances of getting into an approved Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) program, make sure that you put in at least a year in an intensive care unit.
In order to take that crucial next step, you will have to choose an accredited nurse anesthetist schools and complete a Master of Science and Nursing degree program, which is required in order to become a CRNA.
You really have to work hard to maintain high grades throughout this process too, as only the brightest and best are considered for employment, and simply just squeaking through may not be enough to automatically ensure you a position.
Once you have completed your Masters and graduated from nurse anesthetist schools, there is still one final exam to take which is administered by The Council on Certification of Nurse Anesthetists.
Once you have completed and passed that exam, you are fully qualified to take on the position of CRNA, but be sure to keep in mind that you must re-certify every two years in order to keep your license up to date.
As you can see, learning how to become a nurse anesthetist takes a lot of dedication and hard work, but the end rewards, both professionally and financially, are well worth the effort.
What are the job opportunities, pay, and working conditions like for an nurse anesthetist?
As in all medical fields, the demand for an nurse anesthetist is high. The predicted job growth for a ten year period (2006- 2016) is 23%. On average there are 19,000 active CRNA’s working at one time.
As long as there are patents that need medical procedures and surgery, there will be a need for nurse anesthetists.
The pay ranges with the skill level of the CRNA. Averaging between 157,000 for experienced nurse anesthetists, to the top pay being 214,000 an year. This is one of the higher paying jobs in the medical field especially for nurses.
The working conditions are quite nice, you are usually in an sterile working environment such as hospital operating rooms, critical and intensive car units, labor and delivery units, dentist offices, and offices of plastic surgeons, ophthalmologist, and podiatrists. They can also be found in outpatient and pain management centers.
Usually the government and military have one or two on hand for their surgery needs like on the navy ships or in the field on military bases.
About the only negative thing that can be said of becoming an nurse anesthetist is the hours that they have to work. It is quite normal to work 12 hour shifts and sometimes longer.
This is not a typical 9 to 5 job where you work during the week and are off on the weekends. Similar to doctors and surgeons, they are normally on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week in case of an medical emergency.
What schooling and training is required to become an nurse anesthetist?
When becoming an nurse anesthetist you need to be willing to dedicate at the very least 7 years of your life to the education and clinical practices that are required at minimum to become certified as a nurse anesthetist.
First you must be a certified nurse (RN) with a current license. You also will need at least 1 year preferably more, in an acute care setting like an critical care unit or an emergency room and have completed clinical training in a large hospital setting. A nurse anesthetist must have a bachelors of science degree in nursing or some other approved undergraduate degree.
You will also need a masters degree in nurse anesthesia. Although this may sound like a lot of time you must put in and degrees you have to have, remember you are in control of a very important role in keeping the patient from dieing.
Having the knowledge and experience in these different areas will make sure you do the best job in caring for the patient and assisting the other medical staff that are performing the procedure that is required.
Nurse Anesthetist Schools and Nurse Anesthetist Programs
There are over 100 different nurse anesthetist schools and nurse anesthetist programs that are qualified to teach you in becoming an nurse anesthetist. Picking one should be a high priority on your list of the things you do to becoming a CRNA. There are different ways of researching the different schools and their qualifications.
Online is one of the best ways, you are able to look up the different programs, success rate of the students, the qualifications of the many instructors, and how high the school is in the nursing ranks.
Nursing anesthetist programs are not calculated by just tuition costs but by the total costs. It is calculated with your tuition, AANA membership and the expenses you have incurred throughout your entire education period.
The prices for getting the correct schooling to become an nurse anesthetist can range from the lowest at 17,000 to upwards of 140,000 or more depending on the ranking of the school, location, and prestige of the nurse anesthetist schools.
This does not cover things like housing, living expenses, travel to and from school, and computers, laptops,and PAD’s which are recommended and in some schools required to complete your schooling.
Sometimes books are not included in the cost either, so if they are not, depending on which school you attend and if you have to buy them on campus, you will need to add on average another 2 or 3 thousand to the total cost of your education.
There are programs that the military are offering that will give you free tuition plus a full time salary but you must agree to active duty for a certain number of years and sometimes for the entire duration of your schooling.
The positive aspect of this is that most of the military schools are highly accreted and are looked upon with high esteem and with a degree and experience in the military it can be easier to find a job quicker when getting out of school and active duty.
Here are a couple of different places to look into that offer these programs or can steer you to other military schools that offer programs in nursing anesthesia.
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences/ Military Nurse Anesthesia Program. This place is located in Maryland and requires you to be active duty.
Or you can go to:
US Army Graduate Program in Nursing Anesthesia. This is located in Texas and requires you to be active duty for a minimum of 4 in half years.
The field of nursing anesthesia is a fulfilling long lasting career that will give you an excellent salary and solid stable future.
Knowing that you are going into a field that will always be needed gives you peace of mind that you will always be able to find and keep the job of your choice, no matter the state of the economy.
Becoming an nurse anesthetist can also take you around the world helping others in new and exciting places, especially if you choose the military schools.