CRNAS in a nutshell
A Certified Nurse Anesthetist is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who has acquired graduate-level education and board certification in anesthesia. In the United States, the national association – representing more than 90% of the nurse anesthetists – is called American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA). The National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) governs certification and the Council on Accreditation (COA) of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs governs education.
Nurse Anesthetists, specialist healthcare providers, have their roots in the 1800s, when the nurses of that era gave anesthesia to wounded soldiers that participated in the battlefields of the Civil War. Nowadays, CRNAs, enjoying autonomy and professional respect of the highest leve, provide anesthetics to patients in every possible setting, for every type of surgery or procedure, covering all rural hospitals and maintaining a central role in the U.S Armed Forces. According to the AANA, they safely administer approximately 43 million anesthetics to patients each year in the United States.
Being a CRNA: Requirements
Being a CRNA is no easy task. The minimum education and experience required to become a CRNA include:
- Graduate degree in nursing or other similar major.
- A minimum of one year full-time work experience, or its part-time equivalent in a critical care setting.
- An unencumbered license as a registered professional nurse and/or APRN in the United States or its territories.
- Graduation with a minimum of a master’s degree from a nurse anesthesia educational program, accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs – ranging from 24 to 42 months, depending on requirements.
- Following graduation, successful completion of the National Certification Examination.
In addition, recertification is required of CRNAs on a two-year basis. Administered by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetics (NBCRNA), the recertification program covers and reviews qualifications regarding:
- Current Licensure as a registered nurse
- Continuing education
- Certification that the CRNA had been substantially engaged in their practice during the last two-years
- Examination for mental, physical or other problems that could potentially interfere with the practice of anesthesia.
A CRNA’s monetary reimbursement
The national average of CRNA monetary reimbursement is around 143,000$ per year. A positive trend in pay exists as experience grows.
- An entry-level Nurse Anesthetist with less than five years of experience should expect to earn an average total compensation of $133,000 – including tips, bonus and overtime pay - according to a sample size of 762 salaries.
- A Nurse Anesthetist of five to ten years of experience should expect to earn a total compensation of $149,000 on average, based on a sample size of 351 salaries.
- As for very experienced practitioners, who would include CRNAs of ten to twenty years of work experience, they can safely expect to earn an average total of $157,000, based on a sample size of 276 salaries.
- Nurse Anesthetists who have a work experience greater than twenty years should expect on average a total compensation of about $167,000, based on 181 salaries.
Job Satisfaction, despite the often high-stress situations included in the profession, seems to be particularly high with a perfect five out of five star rating, based on a sample of 61 votes.
Why become a CRNA?
Aside from a currently satisfying paycheck, and a work that saves other people’s lives one should also consider that a CRNA will more than likely never run out of work. Unless something fundamental changes in human society, there will always be a need for an anesthetist. Therefore, substantial monetary and psychological benefits coupled with an ingrained sense of certainty, purpose and stability coexist on this profession.
But who better to present to you the reasons for becoming one, than those who have already practiced the profession?
According to Paul Austin, CRNA since 1985, providing anesthesia care is challenging yet hugely rewarding. To this day, he continues to enjoy practicing, teaching and supporting the profession.
On a similar note, Christine Zambricki, CRNA since 1978, describes the experience as both intense and fun. She “never looked back”, finding it the very best career decision of her life.
Dan Lovinaria, CRNA since 2003, feels his perspective is valued and appreciated, noting how the nurse anesthesia profession has the highest job satisfaction and is currently the number two profession to pursue in the healthcare domain.
Finally, Joseph Pellegrini, CRNA since 1990, finds his job a privilege and an honor that is highly valued by all who work in this profession. He adds that he has never, ever met a CRNA who did not truly love their job, something that tells volumes about the profession as a whole. He too finds his career choice the best choice he has so far made in his life.
If you’re interested in reading more on CRNAs views on their profession, go ahead and take it straight from the horse’s mouth.
During surgery, a patient’s life largely rests in the hands of the anesthesia provider. Naturally, a CRNA can expect to have a fully engaging work, using every aspect of their education, skills and knowledge. Coupled with the fact that the profession is extremely meaningful through its inherently life-saving nature, becoming a CRNA is an excellent choice for anyone interested in giving back to his community and society.
In addition, the shortage of CRNAs in the marketplace, along with ever-present need for anesthesia specialists spells job opportunities. One can safely assume he will be employed and rewarded for his efforts. The monetary rewards are also substantial, providing a CRNA the luxury of having a decent quality lifestyle. Of no less importance is the fact that CRNAs are qualified and permitted by state law or regulations to practice their craft in every state of the nation.
If nothing else, the level of job satisfaction reported from current CRNAs should speak wonders of the profession, and convince anyone still holding doubts of the attractiveness of this career choice.