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What is a nurse anesthetist?

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Carolyn’s Answer

A nurse anesthetist, or CRNA, functions similarly to an anesthesiologist. They provide anesthesia in the OR and monitor the patient's blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. They also respond to emergency situations where a patient might need a breathing tube placed. As mentioned previously, you become an RN first and gain experience in an ICU. I was considering this path and worked as an RN in an ICU, but ultimately decided to become an NP. If you are considering CRNA or NP, you'll have a better understanding of both roles after becoming an RN.

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Tequila’s Answer

Hi there. A nurse anesthetist is highly specialized nurse, who has earned a master's degree in nursing with a specialty. The nurse typically comes from the intensive critical care or trauma emergency or operating room settings with a BSN. Once you've gotten a few years of experience in one of those 3 areas, you apply for your master's degree program at a school which has the nurse anesthetist program. It will take approx. 2-2.5 yrs to get the degree. The final step is to take your licensing examination. Then you earn the title.
A nurse anesthetist is the health care provider who anesthetizes or "puts people to sleep" before a surgical operation or invasive procedure. They help to ensure the person can get through the process without feeling pain and not remembering what took place during the process.
My friend's daughter did this in Maine; got her full tuition, room, and board paid for. The stipulation was that she was to practice in Maine for 2 years after graduation. If you're interested and willing to travel, I'm sure other states provided incentive programs to get people to practice in their state and provide great tuition incentives too.
Nurse Anesthetist work for or under anesthesiologists, who are doctors who perform the same tasks as nurse anesthetists. In most cases, they do work alone but report to an anesthesiologist in some capacity. The individual state board of health care professionals determine how the arrangement must work.
I hope this helps.

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janet’s Answer

This is a nurse who has obtained their RN degree and become interested in furthering their career. Most of the nurse anesthetist I worked with had experience in critical care and went back to a hospital based program and completed their nurse anesthetist program. The nurse anesthetist works under an anestheologist and work with surgeons/physicians to put people to sleep so surgery can be done. They monitor the patient during the procedure and provide the medication to keep the patient under sufficient anesthesia until the procedure or surgery is completed.

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Francine’s Answer

It is a RN who has received, usually the MSN .

In easy terms, they put people to sleep during surgeries. The are over seen by a Anathesiologist.

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Aaron’s Answer

Hi Vanisha,

A nurse anesthetist is the highest level of nurse just under a doctor. Their job is to administer anesthetics to patients during surgeries.

-Thank you,

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Kerrie’s Answer

A nurse anesthetist is usually called a CRNA, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. This is a nurse who completed a BSN degree, then worked in an intensive care setting for at least 1 year and then goes into a specialty program for an advanced degree specializing in CRNA focus. After graduation from an accredited program, the CRNA is considered an advanced practice RN (APRN), but also has to take state boards for advanced practice licensure to write prescriptions. *NOTE: I listed the educational and experience requirements to become a CRNA below per the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) website, starting in Jan 2022, CRNA's will be required to be enrolled in a doctoral degree program.

According to the state in which the CRNA works, they may or may not have to work under the direction of a medical doctor, such as an anesthesiologist. In some states, they can work independently; in this case, some CRNA's may choose to work in pain clinics where they can set-up their own practice. In my 25+ years of working in the operating room (TX, MN, IL, WI, CO) most of the CRNA's I have worked with, work in the OR under the general supervision of an anesthesiologist.

The CRNA is a great advanced practice RN position for a person who likes to work semi-independently with medication titrations and monitoring of patients and vital signs. This is a complex position in which continual monitoring of the patient is important and training comes into play in case of medical emergencies. The CRNA can work in any area where anesthesia is being delivered, per the AANA, such as traditional hospital surgical suites and obstetrical delivery rooms; critical access hospitals; ambulatory surgical centers; the offices of dentists, podiatrists, ophthalmologists, plastic surgeons, and pain management specialists; and U.S. military, Public Health Services, and Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare facilities.

Per the AANA, the minimum education and experience required to become a CRNA include**:

A baccalaureate or graduate degree in nursing or other appropriate major.
An unencumbered license as a registered professional nurse and/or APRN in the United States or its territories and protectorates.
A minimum of one-year full-time work experience, or its part-time equivalent, as a registered nurse in a critical care setting within the United States, its territories, or a U.S. military hospital outside of the United States. The average experience of RNs entering nurse anesthesia educational programs is 2.9 years.
Graduation with a minimum of a master’s degree from a nurse anesthesia educational program accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs. As of August 2019, there were 121 accredited nurse anesthesia programs in the United States and Puerto Rico utilizing 1,870 active clinical sites; 91 nurse anesthesia programs are approved to award doctoral degrees for entry into practice.***
Nurse anesthesia programs range from 24-51 months, depending on university requirements. Programs include clinical settings and experiences. Graduates of nurse anesthesia educational programs have an average of 9,369 hours of clinical experience.
Some CRNAs pursue a fellowship in a specialized area of anesthesiology such as chronic pain management following the attainment of their degree in nurse anesthesia.

Before they can become CRNAs, graduates of nurse anesthesia educational programs must pass the National Certification Examination.

**Nurse anesthesia educational programs have admission requirements in addition to the above minimums.

***Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, all students matriculating into an accredited program must be enrolled in a doctoral program.

This is a great choice for a lot of nurses that I have worked with and they really seem to enjoy their career.