Nursing Anesthetists are in that category of “hot” nursing career. Why? They make BIG bucks, which alone puts them in celeb status. But it’s more than that: Nurse Anesthetist schools are limited in the number of nursing students they can admit and the volume of interested candidates is bigger than the crop that will really make it in. So competition is tough and when you win a spot in a CRNA school, you get to toot your horn.
The nursing anesthesia degree track is a graduate level program, but is an Advanced Practice specialty. Candidates earn their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in the nursing anesthesia specialty. At the completion of the program grads are prepared to take the Certification exam for their CRNA license—Certified Registered Nurse of Anesthesia.
CRNA schools can be a part of a hospital program, a university grad program, or standalone schools of study. Programs last between 2 and 3 years and require full-time study. Despite the fact that many grad level nursing programs are able to utilize some distance learning you’ll find that nurse anesthesia programs require students on campus and directly engaged in studies both academic and clinical. Depending upon the program, some schools organize the mix of didactic and clinical instruction differently: some divide clinical and academic evenly over the course of the program, others front-load with academics and back-load with clinicals. Regardless, the curriculum is notorious for its rigor and most programs lose a percentage of students after the first couple of semesters because of this.
This ultra-specialized program of study requires nursing students to have the following credentials:
On the job CRNAs may find work in a handful of different patient care facilities. Of course the most common is hospital operating rooms. Here a CRNA is primarily responsible for patient care from just before the procedure through anesthesia administration and the duration of the surgical procedure. Levels of CRNA responsibility vary depending upon the state scope of practice regulations and institutional practice.
Remember this nursing specialty comes with much fatter salaries. CRNAs may earn between $80,000 and $150,000 depending upon experience, location, institution and more.