what does a nurse anesthetist do

What does a Nurse Anesthetist do?

A nurse anesthetist is an advanced-practice nurse who deals with anesthetics. A nurse anesthetic is commonly certified in anesthesia. A certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) is a significant member of the health care team. A certified registered nurse anesthetist is different from an anesthesiologist. While certified registered nurse anesthetists are graduate degree-level nurses, anesthesiologists are medical doctors.

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How to Become a Nurse Anesthetist

what does a nurse anesthetist do

To get certified as a nurse anesthetic, you must first become a registered nurse. To become a registered nurse, You need to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing then must pass the exam specified by your state nursing board, or state regulatory agency to be able to obtain your RN license. Next, you must gain two-three years of experience in nursing particularly in a critical healthcare environment, such as in an intensive care unit of a hospital or a surgical intensive care unit.

Next, you’ll need to earn a master’s degree in nurse anesthesia. You will be taught about types of equipment used in administering anesthesia and management in the classroom and also gain clinical practice experience. During the first part of your program, you will take courses in physiology, pain management, pharmacology, and anesthesia for different medical specialties. The last part of your program would be focused on helping you get clinical experience under the guidance and surveillance of a medical doctor.

When you have graduated with a master’s degree, you’ll be eligible to take the CRNA exam. The exam and certification is organized and provided by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists. You will also be required to get a valid RN license and you cannot be suffering from any physical, mental health, or drug or alcohol issues.

Nurses who are anticipating being nurse anesthetists must value self-sufficiency and independence. They must be compassionate, empathetic and humble because while working as CRNAs, they would work as both compassionate care-givers and technical experts. They must also be able to carry out multiple tasks at the same time and pay close attention to detail. As a nurse anesthetist, you must be able to work under pressure in a stressful environment. You should be able to collaborate with various personality types in your work environment and adaptable to be able to prioritize tasks.

Job Description of a Nurse Anesthetist

Nurse anesthetists are a higher level of practicing registered nurses who help patients to manage pain prior to and during the period of surgical operations. They also help patients to manage pain caused by injuries and in pain management during the time a woman is in labor through the provision of an epidural. Their work is mainly in high-stress situations due to the fact that the majority of patients they attend to are in pain.

Nurse anesthetists are one of the highest paying nursing specialties. A nurse anesthetist takes care of all areas of the supervision and management of anesthesia in clinics, hospitals, delivery rooms, dental offices, and other healthcare facilities. They are highly trained to give patients various forms of anesthetics. They carry out pain management for every type of surgery and also ensure that the greater part of the patients’ functions remain normal during the time they administer the anesthesia.

Nurse anesthetists together with medical doctors offer patients anesthetic services and similar care prior to, during and after surgical procedures. The anesthesia can be a general anesthesia that helps the patient sleep through a procedure or a local anesthetic that only numbs a particular section of the body. The nurse anesthetist evaluates the patient to check the best anesthetic action for them and prepares the room with the suitable equipment they need. They then give the anesthesia to the patient and supervise the patient throughout the procedure.

Nurse anesthetists regularly work in hospital operating rooms (ORs), emergency rooms (ERs), intensive care units (ICUs), cardiac care units (CCUs), or outpatient surgical clinics. They also frequently work with surgical teams.
Nurse anesthetists play a significant role in the provision of anesthesia. Medications utilized for anesthesia are commonly risky. Nurse anesthetists employ their nursing skills and knowledge to choose the right medication to ensure the patient remains safe while the desired effect is achieved.

Nurse Anesthetist Career Video Transcript

In the olden days, surgical patients had to bite the bullet to endure pain. Now, nurse anesthetists can prevent patients from feeling discomfort and then wake them up when surgery is all over. Nurse anesthetists administer anesthesia to numb parts of the body or put patients in a sleep-like state during operations, diagnostic procedures, or therapeutic procedures.

Nurse anesthetists know that everyone is different, so they talk with patients about their allergies and current medications and evaluate other factors like height and weight to determine the correct dosage for their patients. They choose and prepare appropriate anesthetics and administer them by various methods, including IVs and inhaled gases. Throughout a procedure and during recovery, they carefully monitor their patient’s vital signs from their pupil dilation to their heart rate, and adjust anesthesia accordingly. They may work in a dental or doctor’s office, keeping standard business hours.

Those who work at hospitals often work some nights, weekends, and holidays. Depending on state regulations and the environment in which they work, nurse anesthetists may work independently or on a team under the direction of an anesthesiologist. To enter the field, they must have a master’s degree in nursing and a nurse anesthetist certification. Whatever the work setting, these professionals share the goal of making a patient’s trip to the doctor quick and painless.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Nurse Anesthetists.

American Association of Nurse Anesthesists. Become a CRNA.

National Council of State Boards of Nursing. NCLEX & Other Exams.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.