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Nurse anesthetists work with anesthesiologists, surgeons, dentists, and other medical doctors in situations where a surgery or medical procedure requires the use of anesthesia. The nurse anesthetist works with the patient prior to the procedure, preparing them for the anesthesia, and explaining what the patient might expect while undergoing anesthesia. Nurse anesthetists monitor patients while procedures are taking place, and help patients recover from the anesthesia after their procedure is complete. Nurse anesthetists assist the medical doctors involved in the procedure in any matters which concern anesthesia.
Nurse anesthetists must be able to take charge of a situation and supervise others, while also working as part of a team and being able to take orders. Medical procedures requiring anesthesia can sometimes be very stressful, and nurse anesthetists must be able to remain calm in what can be a very chaotic situation. Nurse anesthetists must also be able to communicate with patients and be able to be supportive during the stressful time for a patient prior to a medical procedure.
The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in 2008 registered nurses had a median income of $62,450 per year. The highest 10 percent made over $92,240 per year. Nurse anesthetists are considered part of the category of registered nurses for the data, but due to their specialized training they more than likely fall into the higher end of this range.
Training and Education
Nurse anesthetists require a master's degree in nursing with a specialization in anesthesia. If you are interested in becoming a nurse anesthetist the first step is to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing. This is a 4-year undergraduate program that consists of classroom, lab, and clinical work. If you already have a degree in another field, there are schools with programs which may allow you to earn a nursing degree a little more quickly.
After earning your undergraduate degree in nursing, you need to earn a master's degree in nursing, specializing in anesthesia. Some master's programs require that you have 1 or 2 years of clinical work prior to being accepted into the program. Masters programs in nurse anesthesia can take 2 to 3 years to complete.
To practice as a nurse, you must have a license, which you may receive after completing the undergraduate nursing program and passing a national examination. Once you have received your master's degree, you need to pass another examination to become certified as a nurse anesthetist.
The latest employment data shows that in 2008 there were approximately 2.5 million registered nurses employed in this country, making the profession the largest group in the healthcare category.
The job outlook for the nursing profession, and the health care field is projected to be excellent. The aging of the baby boomer generation, a growing concern for leading a healthy lifestyle, and the retirement of people already in the field, all contribute to the demand for health care professionals. Nurse anesthetists, and other highly specialized fields of nursing, should experience outstanding job prospects and career potential.