A nurse anesthetist career is a very challenging and highly rewarding choice for anyone considering a nursing job. Nurse anesthetists work in hospitals with doctors, anesthesiologists, and other nurse anesthetists to prepare surgery patients and administer anesthesia before surgery, to adjust the amounts of anesthesia during surgery, and to monitor the condition of the patient after surgery has been completed, to ensure there are no complications. A nurse anesthetist career is one of the pinnacles of the nursing sector of the health care industry; few other nursing specialties are considered as prestigious, and it’s also one of the most highly compensated medical careers, because of the high levels of skills required.
While the job is very rewarding, it’s also extremely stressful. To begin with, few working environments are as stressful as an operating room, where people’s lives are on the line every time they go under the knife. This is one of the main reasons many nurses have no desire to work in operating rooms, or emergency rooms; the stress of ordinary nursing jobs in these environments can be overwhelming. Added to the already high level of stress is the heavy burden of responsibility the nurse anesthetist is under to ensure that proper levels of anesthesia are delivered to the patient. If too little is administered, the patient will experience excruciating pain; if too much is given, the patient could die. A nurse anesthetist career carries with it an awesome responsibility.
Because administering anesthesia is so fraught with risk, it takes years of education and training in order to qualify to work as a nurse anesthetist. A registered nurse can begin working immediately after earning a bachelor’s degree and getting certified and licensed. It can take a nurse practitioners six years to get into their career. For nurse anesthetists, the total time involved in education and training is usually eight to ten years. After first earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing, candidates must work for at least a year in an acute nursing environment. After this, they must then enroll in an accredited anesthesia education program that typically will take around three years to complete. The final step toward a nurse anesthetist career is taking and passing the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist exam, a demanding test of the knowledge and skills it will take to perform the job adequately.
For any candidate who makes the grade, compensation is excellent. Salaries for this specialty are much higher than for other nursing specialties and are several times the average income in America, being competitive with some doctors salaries. The median salary for nurse anesthetists is now over $160,000 a year, and some nurse anesthetists with years of experience make over $200,000 a year. Salaries are projected to keep rising for the foreseeable future, as medical care becomes an even larger portion of the American economy in the coming years. Job prospects are projected to be well above average, in part because of strong demand due to health care growing well above average and in part because the stress of the job, and the long period of education and training required make a nurse anesthetist career an unattractive option for many. For those who have what it takes to succeed in this high-stress occupation, future job and salary prospects in a nurse anesthetist career are excellent.