For starters, certified nurse anesthetists basically work like anesthesiologists. They ensure the safety of their patients before, during, and after surgical operations.
Because anesthesia is a potent chemical and a single mistake can cost the life of a patient, rigorous training and education are needed to ensure that nurses are fully prepared in handling critical patients.
A CRNA can earn three times more than a single anesthesiologist. They are one of the highest-paid professionals in the health care industry. They get to work alongside respected podiatrists, dentists, surgeons, among others.
On average, a nurse anesthetist program can last between 24 and 36 months- not including the 4 years of BSN training and at least one year of work experience prior. But with the right strategy and perseverance, you can bypass at least 2 years and still become a certified nurse anesthetist.
How to Become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
This step-by-step guide applies to those who either graduated from high school or already took a Bachelor’s of Science degree prior to Nursing.
Step 1: Nursing Prerequisites
Before you consider entering a nursing school, make sure you already took the required prerequisites. As we all know, nursing programs are getting more competitive. To increase your chances of getting accepted, work hard to achieve above-average grades in nursing-related subjects like math, English, and sciences. If all else fails, you can also consider applying to online Nursing programs.
Step 2: Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
Associates degree in Nursing is a two-year program that equips you with the basic nursing knowledge and skills. As you will later discover, this step is the key to helping you earn a CRNA degree quickly.
Through this program, you can already work and apply for nurse anesthetist schools after 32 months or less. It is also more affordable as ADN programs are mostly offered in community colleges. The job outlook is almost the same as in a 4-year Nursing program. In fact, employers put more emphasis on NCLEX-RN than on what specific school or program you came from.
Step 3: RN to BSN program
Once you’re hired, it will only take a few months before you become eligible for tuition reimbursement. At that point, you will then be allowed to study part-time for your Bachelors in Nursing (BSN).
You can do this while also earning the required one-year experience in critical care areas such as ICU. Depending on your capability, you can complete as much as 6 credits per semester or 24 credits per year.
Step 4: Certified in Critical Care Nursing (CCRN)
While working and studying at the same time, you can also take this opportunity to increase your qualifications. Nurse anesthetist schools are very strict and competitive. Therefore, make sure you increase your chances of getting accepted.
To do this, you have to attend Advanced Cardiac Life Support(ACLS) and Basic Arrhythmia monitoring classes. Also, learn how to be proficient in handling delicate equipment like A-lines, balloon pumps, and ventilators. These are the same things that you will later encounter while training in a nurse anesthetist school. You might as well be certified in Critical Care Nursing (CCRN) to prove that you’ve upgraded your skills.
Remember, experience matters more than academic performance when considering a CRNA career.
Step 5: RN to Nurse Anesthetist
Getting accepted in a nurse anesthetist school is doubly harder. You’ll be competing with licensed professionals who can be older, smarter, and more experienced than you. Nevertheless, always keep your hopes up because if you did well in your work and studies, you’ll be twice as likely to be accepted.
Lastly, note that once you’re in a nurse anesthetist school. All students will be required to study full-time.
Step 6: Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
A nurse anesthetist program usually involves 3 years of intense training and education. It means 15 hours of grueling hospital and research work every day.
Upon graduating, students will earn a Master’s degree in Nurse Anesthesia. In some prestigious nursing schools, students can also earn an MSN degree which qualifies them for future teaching jobs.
Once you pass the licensure exam, the challenging yet rewarding career of a CRNA awaits you. But just like other health professionals, your education continues to make sure you’re updated with the latest trends in medical practices.
To give you an idea about this job, here’s a short video you can watch:
Resources: American Association of Nurse Anesthetists