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Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)


Nurse anesthetists are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) responsible for administering anesthesia to patients. This practice specialty is unique among nursing careers, as the advanced training required for the job puts nurse anesthetists on a level similar to physicians. Nurse anesthetists work independently, often serving as the sole anesthetist within a practice or facility. To become a nurse anesthetist, nursing professionals must earn a baccalaureate degree, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) credentials. Training requirements also call for a minimum of one year of experience in an acute care or ICU setting.

What Does a Nurse Anesthetist Do?

Nurse anesthetists provide pain management in a variety of clinical settings, often treating surgical patients in hospitals. Additionally, these nurses tend to obstetric patients in labor and delivery, patients with chronic pain or trauma pain, dental patients or outpatients undergoing procedures in clinics offering specialty services like plastic surgery or podiatry. CRNAs are particularly needed in rural areas, where qualified physicians are often in short supply. In many states, they perform virtually all anesthetic administration in sparsely populated areas.

Nurse anesthetists care for patients before, during and after procedures. In most cases, patient care begins with a meeting where the patient’s medications, health status and expectations for the procedure are reviewed. The CRNA determines the appropriate analgesics and administers the correct dosage during the procedure, monitoring the patient’s vital signs continuously. Care ends when the patient has completely recovered from the effects of anesthesia.

Analgesics are delivered via gas, intravenous liquids or oral medication. Typical cases for CRNAs might include general anesthesia, twilight sleep for minor procedures, localized pain relief for outpatient procedures or pain management procedures for chronic pain or trauma patients. Some nurse anesthetists also manage therapy regimens for chronic pain patients.

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