According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, CRNAs are some of the highest paid nursing specialists, making an average annual salary of $168,500 in 2008. In a recent report by Merritt Hawkins & Associates, a physician recruiting and consulting firm in the US, CRNAs are offered an average base salary of $189,000 compared to the primary care doctors which has an average base salary of $173,000. Aside from the salary, Nurse anesthetists often have different hours than the weekend and evening hours of a regular nurse and have more control of their schedule and on-call nights.
To have a better understanding of what a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) do? Let us first take a look at some of the basic information about CRNA.
A nurse anesthetist, or certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), is a licensed professional nurse who provides the same anesthesia services as an anesthesiologist (MD). After completing extensive education and training, CRNAs become nationally certified and may then practice in all 50 states. Working closely with other health care professionals such as surgeons, dentists, podiatrists and anesthesiologists, a nurse anesthetist takes care of a patient’s anesthesia needs before, during and after surgery or the delivery of a baby by doing the following activities:
Performing a physical assessment
Participating in preoperative teaching
Preparing for anesthetic management
Administering anesthesia to keep the patient pain free
Maintaining anesthesia intraoperatively
Overseeing recovery from anesthesia
Following the patient’s postoperative course from recovery room to patient care unit
Nurse anesthetists stay with their patients for the entire procedure, constantly monitoring every important body function and individually modifying the anesthetic to ensure maximum safety and comfort. CRNAs administer approximately 65 percent of the 26 million anesthetics given to patients in the United States each year. Education and experience required to become a CRNA include: 1. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or other appropriate baccalaureate degree. 2. A current license as a registered nurse. 3. At least one year of experience as a registered nurse in an acute care setting. 4. Graduation with a master’s degree from an accredited nurse anesthesia educational program. As of October 2009 there were 109 nurse anesthesia programs in the United States utilizing more than 1,900 approved clinical sites. These programs range from 24-36 months, depending upon university requirements. All programs include clinical training in university-based or large community hospitals. 5. Pass a national certification examination following graduation. In order to be recertified, CRNAs must obtain a minimum of 40 hours of approved continuing education every two years, document substantial anesthesia practice, maintain current state licensure, and certify that they have not developed any conditions that could adversely affect their ability to practice anesthesia.