The Nursing Industry has no shortage of various types of Nurses, with CRNAs forming an integral part of the Advanced Practice of Registered Nurse practitioners and just one of over twenty-five nursing career options available to Nurses.
If you read this, you are probably curious to learn more about CRNA and what makes them unique from other types of nurses.
This guide will answer these questions and look at where CRNAs work and why there is a need for CRNAs.
Once you’re done reading this guide, you will be better informed about the profession.
This guide will cover:
So, let’s get straight into it!
What is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist?
In short, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNAs) administers anesthesia and medication to patients.
They are also widely known as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), who administer anesthesia and carefully monitor how the people given anesthesia respond to it.
With anesthesia, patients are temporarily rendered unconscious with a loss of protective reflexes.
To give the right mix of medications to induce a state of anesthesia, CRNAs need to be thoroughly educated.
Among these educational requirements is extensive clinical training, obtaining at least a master’s or doctorate in anesthesiology, and passing the national certification exam, which has been thoroughly vetted by the National Boards of Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA).
While a CRNA’s primary role would be administering anesthesia to patients, several other responsibilities, including liaising with other healthcare practitioners regarding the patient’s health conditions, help the entire medical team go through the anesthesia process most effectively.
We discuss the full scope of CRNA responsibilities in the next section.
What does a CRNA do?
Generally speaking, a CRNA administers anesthetics and monitors patients before, during, and after the anesthetic procedure.
However, should we discuss their job duties to their specifics, a CRNA:
- Analyzes a patient’s medical condition to establish the best way to administer anesthesia.
- Identifies any risks posed to the patient.
- Prepares the tools and equipment needed during the anesthesia procedures.
- Monitors the patient’s vitals after the anesthesia is administered.
- Prepares accurate doses of medication.
- Helps patients feel comfortable about the anesthesia procedure by giving them the necessary education.
With CRNAs being a crucial part of any medical team, the healthcare settings that CRNAs work in stem far and wide.
CRNA Work Environment
While CRNAs acquire extensive education to make independent decisions regarding administering anesthesia, CRNAs often have to work in conjunction with other anesthesiologists, physicians, surgeons, pain management specialists, and other medical professionals to ensure patients receive anesthesia with maximum safety and precision.
The types of medical professionals that CRNAs may work with range across various categories of health specialists, such as dentists, like when a patient may need to fill a cavity.
Furthermore, they may work with a podiatrist when a patient is undergoing ankle surgery to plastic surgeons working on surgical procedures on a patient.
The range of health professionals with whom CRNAs can work is as diverse as the environments they can practice.
These include emergency rooms, cardiac rooms, intensive critical care units, operating rooms, and maternity rooms when giving pregnancy epidurals.
The range of health facilities that a CRNA can work in includes dental clinics, surgical centers, plastic surgery clinics, hospitals, podiatry clinics, outpatient surgical clinics, and pain clinics, to mention a few.
To be flexible enough to work in these various environments and healthcare facilities, there are certain qualities and qualifications a CRNA needs to obtain.
We explore these briefly in the next section.
What does it take to become a CRNA?
Embarking on becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist is not the easiest thing to do.
Due to the intricate nature of the job, CRNAs have to undergo intense academic training consisting of vast technical knowledge and need to possess qualities that support quality medical treatment.
To understand the actual intensity of becoming a CRNA, we’ll briefly look at the qualities and qualification requirements.
For a more in-depth look into becoming a CRNA, you can check out our guide on ‘How to become a CRNA’ in the CRNA series.
As mentioned earlier in this guide, CRNAs will usually work side-by-side with a team of medical professionals across different healthcare settings to provide the anesthetic needed.
To successfully work amongst a group, CRNAs need to possess collaborative traits.
As a CRNA, it could be very easy to fall into the trap of solely regarding your interests above the team.
However, as observed by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) and several other Nursing bodies, collaboration amongst medical professionals leads to better patient health outcomes.
Working in a team will also be crucial to be flexible enough to work with different personalities and show a willingness to learn more about the field from your peers, colleagues, and other reputable sources.
One of the essential qualities that a CRNA can hold is taking criticism and learning from your mistakes.
In the medical profession, making a mistake could mean life or death, hence why you should be able to accept feedback regarding processes you take that may not necessarily be up to standard.
Finally, when it comes to performing your job duties, CRNAs should generally have the ability to juggle multiple tasks in one go.
Often you’ll have to administer anesthetics while ensuring the patient feels comfortable.
Additionally, you’ll need to monitor the patient while maintaining communication with other medical staff working on that patient- we guess you get the idea of how several duties could fall on your plate all at once.
There’s no becoming a CRNA if you haven’t acquired the proper education.
While we won’t delve deeper into the educational requirement of a CRNA, at a glance, a CRNA should first earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and obtain at least a year of experience in an acute care setting like an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to be considered at an accredited Nurse Anesthesia Program.
It doesn’t end there.
Afterward, you’ll have to undergo clinical training educational programs that will enable you to obtain a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctorate Degree in Nurse Anesthesia.
Once you’ve completed your Master’s or Doctorate degree program, you still have to take and pass the national licensure exam before you can practice.
However, none of this is in vain, as CRNAs are not only an essential part of the medical system but also in high demand.
When it comes to deciding to take up a career, the biggest question, regardless of the type of career, is, “Is there a demand?”
According to Zippia, fields under the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse areas, including CRNAs, are expected to grow in demand, especially in rural hospitals and rural and urban areas.
Johnson and Johnson attribute this growth to an aging U.S. population, an increase in surgical procedures, and changes to the healthcare legislation.
Furthermore, they predict that CRNAs will soon become the primary anesthesia providers to mitigate the cost of procedures.
The need for CRNAs is growing tremendously in various healthcare settings, explaining why the number of jobs available to CRNAs looks significantly good too.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 45 percent growth in employment opportunities for Nurse Anesthetists between the years 2020 to 2030.
They suggest the increase in employment opportunities is due to the need to replace a retiring group of employees and employees that have transferred to different occupations.
Speaking of transferring, CRNAs can change careers by pursuing a doctoral degree and getting into the field of education and research.
However, check out our CRNA Careers guide for a full scope of the career opportunities available to CRNAs.
Becoming a Nurse Anesthetist and holding the title of a CRNA is something to wear as a badge of honor.
Not only is the educational, skills, and overall training part of becoming a CRNA something extensive and worth celebrating one achieving, but taking on a complex job that brings a new challenge every day never leaves room for a dull moment.
If you’ve ever considered becoming a CRNA, then the great thing to note is that the process is straightforward (despite being long).
With sheer dedication and with the guidance of guides like these, there should be nothing stopping you from embarking on becoming a CRNA.