If you’re going to set a career goal, you might as well aim high, right? In the field of nursing, a career as a nurse anesthetist is just about as high as one can aim. A nurse anesthetist, otherwise known as a CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) is the certified counterpart to the MD anesthesiologist profession.
The major differences between the two practices are in education (anesthesiologists have six years more as MD’s), corresponding financial cost of the education and level of complete independence in regards to patient care. Other than that, both professions are responsible for complete anesthesia care.
The 150 year old CRNA profession is regulated by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists. I’ve included the AANA link at the end of this blog as an excellent resource for nursing students and nurses interesting in pursuing a CRNA career. While specific educational requirements vary between accredited institutions, here is the general checklist for applying to a CRNA training program.
- Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing or Science-related major
- RN License
- Minimum one year of RN experience in critical/acute care area such as ER or ICU
- Prerequisite science courses similar to “Pre-Med” courses
Once you’re accepted into a CRNA program, the ensuing tuition costs for your 2-3 year education can be pricey. However, the financial and career opportunity rewards more than cover those costs. The average salary for CRNA’s as of 2007 was $140,013 (AMGA medical group survey) – the highest of all nursing salaries.
In addition to job opportunities in hospitals and clinical settings, nurse anesthetists can work as researchers, teachers and in health care administration. However, it is the clinical settings that offer the most job opportunities for CRNA’s, with nearly all rural hospitals in America opting for nurse anesthetists over MD anesthesiologists. If you have already set your sights on critical care nursing and are also a talented problem solver, critical thinker, and multi-tasker, a career as a nurse anesthetist is worth looking into.
AANA Website: http://www.aana.com