General Information on CRNAs
Nurses were the first providers of anesthesia care and have continued to work in the field for more than 150 years. The designation of certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) first came into existence in the late 1950s as a mode of providing advanced training to the specialty of anesthesia nursing.
Today, CRNAs are the primary providers of anesthesia in rural and underserved communities and manage the anesthesia needs for millions of patients annually. Like their physician counterparts, the demand for certified registered nurse anesthetists will continue to rise as the population ages and expands and as more outpatient clinics and nontraditional settings require their services.
What Does a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Do?
Job Description and Responsibilities
A CRNA is a registered nurse and advanced practice nurse who works in collaboration with anesthesiologists, surgeons and other physicians and medical professionals to deliver anesthesia for medical and surgical procedures.
A certified registered nurse anesthetist cares for a patient before, during and after a medical procedure or surgery by performing a patient assessment, preparing the patient for anesthesia, administering and maintaining the anesthesia to ensure proper sedation and pain management, overseeing patient recovery from anesthesia and caring for the patient's immediate post-operative needs.
Working in Anesthesia Nursing
Today's certified registered nurse anesthetists can expect to work in the same environments as anesthesiologists, including hospital operating rooms, labor and delivery units, critical and intensive care floors, outpatient centers, offices of dentists, ophthalmologists, plastic surgeons and podiatrists, pain management clinics and in management. In many military and government medical facilities, including Navy ships, nurse anesthetists are the only providers of anesthesia. CRNAs work closely with patients and their families to ensure proper care and comfort and, as such, are regarded with respect by nursing and medical personnel.
How to Become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
Nurses wishing to become certified registered nurse anesthetists need to be prepared to dedicate at least seven years to education and clinical practice in order to meet the minimum requirements.
Nurse anesthetists are required to have a Bachelor's of Science degree in nursing or other appropriate undergraduate degree and a master's degree from one of the more than 100 graduate schools of nurse anesthesia. In addition, nurse anesthetists must hold a current license as a registered nurse.
Training to Become a CRNA
Before becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist, a nurse must have at least one year of experience in an acute care setting, such as an emergency room or critical care unit, and complete additional training in a large hospital setting.
A certified registered nurse anesthetist in training can expect to work close to 1,800 clinical hours and administer about 800 anesthetics at one of the more than 1,000 clinical programs available throughout the United States.
A registered nurse will pass a national certification exam following graduation to obtain the CRNA designation and must complete at least 40 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain the designation.