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Nursing is still one of the most reputable careers globally. Although it is quite demanding, it is also one of the best paying careers. The field of Nursing is broad, with anesthetic nursing, one of the most senior nurse specialties. CRNAs are the best-paid nurses in the United States with the freedom to practice autonomously.
However, despite being a promising and lucrative career, becoming a CRNA is an arduous journey that requires a significant amount of time and total commitment. Interested individuals spend a minimum of seven years learning and gaining experience after getting the first degree in nursing.
The prime role of CRNAs is to administer anesthetics to any surgery and conduct other various types of clinical procedures in the hospital. They are the most advanced nurses who are usually trained at either the doctoral or master’s level. CRNAs are certified by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA), with the certificate only being awarded after passing an examination.
On a typical day, a CRNA will first check the number of patients to be served in the day and ensure sufficient drugs and equipment. Then, they are responsible for coming up with the anesthesia plan, considering the activity’s possible complications.
Such an assessment usually includes a short interview and examination followed by reviewing the patient’s medical documents. These nurses are also responsible for administering anesthesia at either a general, regional, or local level, requiring monitoring and sedation (McCurdy, Page 13).
Throughout anesthesia, the CRNA will monitor vital signs, ensure that the patient maintains their average psychological and airway balance, and decide the medication that the patient requires for the intervention process. After the anesthesia, they assess the patient’s progress.
CRNAs can work in various settings. They work in hospitals, specifically in the operating theatres, delivery rooms, cardiac catheterization labs, etc. Others can deliver their services in the mobile surgery units as well as other clinic settings. Mostly, their work is quite similar to that of a physician anesthesiologist. These nurses work in close association with doctors like dentists, plastic surgeons, and ophthalmologists. Although, some own private practices.
You will find CRNAs in most hospitals in urban areas. However, in the rural areas and the places where there is an underserviced, CRNAs are considered the significant anesthesia providers.
CRNAs are the top-paid Registered Nurses in America. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary earned is approx. $174,790. But, the highest-paid Nurse Anesthetist earns over $239,380. (Source) Salary range will vary widely based on educational qualification, experience, additional skills, and certifications gained while in practice.
Compensation will, however, vary depending on the terms of employment. The kind of state and the years of experience are also essential determinants of the salary being allocated to CRNA (Lamb, Page 12).
Lamb, Katie. “Understanding Motivations and Barriers of CRNAs Involved in Global Health: A Qualitative Descriptive Study.” AANA journal 86.5 (2018).
Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Income earned by Nurse Anesthetist.” (2019).
McCurdy, Kelly, and Austin Phillips. “Comparison of CRNAs with and without Supervision on Cost and Safety of Anesthesia.” (2019).