Nurse anesthetists are specialists who perform surgical and postsurgical duties – among them, administering anesthesia, monitoring vital signs during surgery, and overseeing a patient’s post-surgery recovery. They assist physicians, anesthesiologists, dentist and other medical providers.
It takes a dedicated student to become a nurse anesthetist – one willing to go through plenty of additional schooling and certifications. It begins with getting a high school diploma or GED, then involves six increasingly extensive steps. Ready? Here’s what you need to do next:
1. Become an RN (registered nurse), which means passing the NCLEX (National Council Licensing Exam) for registered nurses and keeping the license in good standing in order to even apply for acceptance into a nurse anesthesia program.
2. Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, which requires the two-years of prerequisites that qualify you for being an RN. One thing to keep in mind – it may not be good enough to just earn your bachelor’s degree; many nurse anesthetist programs require a minimum 3.0 BSN average for enrollment.
3. Complete at least one year of experience as an acute care nurse. RNs can get this experience in an ER, or intensive care, cardiac care and surgical intensive care units.
4. Then, it’s back to school to get a master’s degree in nurse anesthesia. This will be a two-plus year commitment involving classroom instruction and hands-on clinical experience in such specialty areas as anatomy, physiology, chemistry, and pharmacology.
5. OK, you got your master’s. Ready for nurse anesthetist work now? Not quite. First, you must pass the national CRNA certification exam and become a certified nurse anesthetist. To qualify for the exam, you must have earned an accredited master’s degree AND have maintained an unrestricted RN license. Then, all that’s left is passing the test!
6. Last step – get a job as a nurse anesthetist and start gaining experience. Enterprising CRNAs may want to move into management or high level administrative positions. Or they can even get a doctorate and become part of a research team.
Nursing Programs at Fortis Colleges and Institutes
Like we said…it’s a long, intense process. Fortis College and Institute campuses in several states can help move you through the first stages of the nurse anesthetist process with their Associate Degree in Nursing (RN) programs…and an RN to BSN online program offered through affiliated Denver School of Nursing. Visit our site to learn more.
If becoming a nurse anesthetist is your goal, we’ll help start you on the path to an amazing career.