What Are the Education Requirements for a Nurse Anesthetist?

Do you want to work in an operating room, but don't want to be a surgeon? Or are you a registered nurse (RN) looking to advance your career? Nurse anesthetists are nurses who help monitor patients' well-being and anesthesia intake before, during and after an operation. Read on to discover the education and experience you'll need in order to become a nurse anesthetist. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of the Nurse Anesthetist Role

According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), as a nurse anesthetist, you'll work with a team of surgeons, anesthesiologists and other medical professionals to provide anesthesia care to patients (www.aana.com). You could work at a hospital, dentist's office or any other place where anesthesia care might be needed, including on the front lines of a war.

Nurse anesthetists are considered advanced practice nurses, so you'll need to possess an RN license and complete additional education requirements in order to be considered for such a position. You'll also need to gain additional certification from the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists to work as a nurse anesthetist. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May 2014 that the annual median salary for certified nurse anesthetists was $158,900 (www.bls.gov).

Important Facts About Nurse Anesthetists

Online AvailabilityMaster's and doctorate available online; in-person clinical required
ConcentrationsPediatrics, dental, obstetric, cardiovascular
Continuing EducationRequirement of 40 hours
PrerequisitesVaries by program; volunteer hours, healthcare experience, and completion of certain courses may be required

Earn Your Bachelor's Degree

The AANA reports that if you want to work as a nurse anesthetist, you'll need to first earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Depending on your program, this stage of your education could last at least four years. During this time, you'll take classes on topics such as:

  • Health assessment skills
  • Acute care
  • Nutrition
  • Nursing children and the elderly
  • Pathophysiology

You'll also receive hands-on nursing experience through clinical rotations required by your school. If you haven't already acquired your RN license, a BSN program's coursework and clinical experiences prepare you to take the national licensing examination needed to become a licensed registered nurse, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Complete Advanced Training

You can pursue graduate-level education through either a Doctor of Nursing Practice or a master's degree program in nurse anesthesia. To be admitted to one of these programs, you'll need to acquire at least one year of work experience in an intensive care setting. During your graduate program, you'll study topics designed to deepen your knowledge of anesthetic practices, including:

  • Pharmacology
  • Advanced anatomy and physiology
  • Advanced physical assessment
  • Cardiac and neurological anesthesia
  • Applied chemistry
  • Post-operative care

You'll also be required to complete a minimum number of clinical hours that can give you experience working with a team of physicians to administer anesthesia and monitor patients' well-being.

Get Certified

According to the National Board of Certification & Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA), you are required to become certified before you can perform in this role (www.nbcrna.com). You might also have to fulfill requirements determined by the state where you practice, according to the BLS.

After meeting education requirements, you can pass an exam administered by the NBCRNA to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). After you pass your exam, you'll be certified for two years. To get re-certified, you'll need to take continuing education courses and provide documentation of work experience and ongoing training.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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