What Is a Nurse Anesthetist?

If you are a registered nurse and want to advance in your career, you may have wondered, what is a CRNA? What does it take to become a nurse anesthetist or work in the field of anesthesia administration? According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, CRNAs are responsible for administering anesthesia in healthcare facilities and surgical centers, and approximately 32 million anesthetics were administered to patients in the United States alone in 2010. If you've wondered, what is a nurse anesthetist and what does a CRNA career involve, take some time to learn about the history of this profession and review sample job descriptions for positions in this field.

What Exactly Is a CRNA?

The credential CRNA stands for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist and was defined as such in 1956. CRNAs are the primary administers of anesthesia through injections and IVs, and work in surgical centers, trauma stabilization units, obstetrical units and other medical environments.

CRNAs must undergo a rigorous two to three-year training program and complete several hours of clinicals in order to prepare for this position. The combination of classroom training and practical training can help students prepare for the certification exam which must be completed right after graduation. CRNA degree programs are master's degree programs and are only extended to those who have a bachelor's degree in nursing or a similar field.

The clinical portion of the training program gives students a chance work in the different settings in which anesthesia is delivered. They may complete an internship or practicum training in hospital surgical suites, obstetrical delivery rooms, ambulatory surgical centers or at a university hospital. This hands-on training is critical for success in this career.

What Are Nurse Anesthetists and Their Career Options?

If you've completed a nursing program and have some experience in the field, you may have wondered, what is a nurse anesthetist? What does a CRNA career involve and how would it be different than the roles you are currently qualified for? Nurse anesthetists have been the primary providers of anesthesia care to U.S. military personnel since World War I and continue to provide services to the military to this day. However, many now work in rural medical hospitals and in surgery centers around the United States. Nurse anesthetists play a very important role in the surgery process and are among the highest-paid nursing professionals in the United States.

Career opportunities for nurse anesthetists remain strong and CRNAs are in in high demand in many metro areas, rural hospitals and health organizations. If you've considered a career as a CRNA or are wondering, what is a nurse anesthetist?, take a look at sample job descriptions and position descriptions available from hospitals, surgery centers and dentistry offices in your area.

CRNAs are needed in every setting where anesthesia is part of the treatment process and an increasing number of managed care plans are now recognizing CRNAs for providing high-quality anesthesia services and affordable care to patients undergoing surgery or receiving treatment.