If you have ever had a procedure that required anesthesia, you are probably familiar with anesthesiologists. You know anesthesiologists give patients medication so they will sleep through the procedure. What you may not realize is that anesthesia isn’t just administered by anesthesiologists. Nurse anesthetists can also administer anesthesia. The nurse anesthetist job description is similar to that of an anesthesiologist. However, anesthesiologists fall under the practice of medicine, while nurse anesthetists fall under the practice of nursing.

Nurse Anesthetist Job Description

A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) is an advanced practice nurse who specializes in anesthesia. A CRNA is responsible for administering anesthesia and monitoring the patient before, during and after the procedure. The CRNA begins by reviewing the patient’s treatment plan and medical history. Then, the nurse anesthetist mixes the medications that will be used on the patient during the procedure. After the CRNA administers the anesthetic, they must keep a close eye on the patient’s vital signs to ensure the patient is getting the right amount of medication. The nurse anesthetist may have to make changes to the dosage and delivery speed during the procedure. After the surgery is over, the nurse anesthetist is responsible for helping the patient come out of anesthesia. This requires close monitoring to ensure that the patient recovers properly.

Nurse anesthetists can work as independent practitioners or in collaboration with physicians. It is very common for nurse anesthetists to work independently in rural settings. In fact, CRNAs are often the sole providers of anesthesia in rural hospitals and practices since rural communities usually don’t have the funds necessary to have an anesthesiologist on staff. Using CRNAs allows these facilities to conduct procedures they would not have been able to do otherwise.

How to Become a Nurse Anesthetist

Applicants need to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in order to enter into a nurse anesthetist program. Some individuals may have a bachelor degree in another field. Upon evaluation, schools may let them in depending on the relevance of the degree. Successful candidates must also be licensed already as a registered nurse, which one can obtain through the Board of Nursing. Visit our registered nurse job description page for more information on how to become a registered nurse. Additionally, students must possess at least one year of acute care experience as well. Acute care refers to critical care. Most programs also require that applicants take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) before commencement.

Students must obtain a master’s degree from a nurse anesthetist program to become a nurse anesthetist. As of August, 2013, there were 113 accredited programs in the United States. Individuals must go through two to three years (24-36 months) of schooling and training before becoming licensed to practice. The training will consist of both classroom and clinical work. The average student completes around 2,500 clinical hours and administers at least 850 anesthetics.

Becoming a CRNA

After obtaining a master’s degree, successful graduates must apply through the National Board of Certification & Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). The following requirements must satisfied before the application process:

  • Currently registered as a RN
  • Possess a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing degree (BSN) or another appropriate baccalaureate degree
  • Have 1 year of experience in an acute care setting.
  • Graduate from an accredited nurse anesthesia program ranging from 2-3 years with appropriate clinical training in hospitals
  • Pass a national certification examination

Once certified, nurse anesthetists must obtain 40 continuing education (CE) credits every two years thereafter to maintain their license for practice. Some states may have additional requirements.

Read More: Nurse Anesthetist Salary

Nurse Anesthetist Job Description Summary

  • Administer anesthesia
  • Work with anesthesiologist and other healthcare practitioners
  • Must possess a BSN and licensed as a RN
  • 2-3 years of nurse anaesthesia school
  • Must be licensed to practice
  • 25% employment growth by 2022