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What Does a Nurse Anesthetist Do?

Job Descriptions August 11, 2013

Becoming certified as a nurse in any capacity is a great decision if you want to help save lives. Today’s nurses have a number of career paths that are demanding, yet lucrative, lending their hand to advanced practices. One of these positions is the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. A CRNA is a registered nurse who works directly with surgeons, anesthesiologists and other healthcare professionals to deliver anesthesia to patients who need surgery or other medical procedures.

Primary responsibilities of a Nurse Anesthetist

Beyond administering anesthesia, a nurse anesthetist cares for patients throughout the entire medical procedure, from beginning to end. They assessment the patient, prepares them for receiving the anesthesia, administers the anesthesia and maintains the levels throughout the procedure to ensure there is no pain and the patient fully recovers during the post-operative process.

This is a very demanding, stressful and critical role in the healthcare profession. It is important for nurse anesthetists to have a level head and in-depth understanding of anesthesia. This position is responsible for making sure patients have the right amount of anesthesia for successful medical procedures, which is very dangerous. There is a lot of research and knowledge of patient history and side effects of medication involved.

Because this position is so challenging and is regarding as a significant part of the operative team, the demands on nurse anesthetists are high. Although not certified as a physician, their role is just as important to maintain the consistency of operative procedures. The nurse anesthetist is an asset to the medical team.

Where do Nurse Anesthetists Work?

Nurse anesthetists are highly specialized nurses and work in the same environments as healthcare professionals and anesthesiologists. They can be found in labor and delivery, critical care units, operating rooms, outpatient centers, pain management facilities, and can even work with the government in the armed services. CRNAs work with both patients and their families for adequate care and comfort throughout their medical procedures.

What type of schooling does a Nurse Anesthetist need?

Because they work in a highly specialized area, a nurse anesthetist has a number of years of specialized education. They are required to have both a bachelor’s and master’s degree, and must have a current license as a registered nurse. They must specialize in nurse anesthesia after the required education and usually have at least seven years of education. A nurse anesthetist must have an eye for detail and extensive knowledge of physiology, biology and chemistry. It takes many years to attain this goal, but the financial rewards are great.

To become a nurse anesthetist, there must be at least one year of experience in a setting that requires extensive anesthesia, and additional training is needed in a larger healthcare setting. The training for this position is about 1,800 clinical hours prior to taking and passing the national certification exam to obtain the CRNA designation.

This medical position is also required to complete 40 hours of continuing education every two years to keep the designation. Anyone who wishes to pursue a nursing degree, but have a specialization that will give them the credibility of an advanced role should consider becoming a nurse anesthetist. It is one of the best kept secrets in the nursing profession, but is quickly becoming one of the most sought after positions in the field.

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