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What Is a Nurse Anesthetist?

Nursing is considered to be one of the noblest, most rewarding and most demanding careers in the medical industry. This is absolutely true, and many people don't realize that nursing is a field that includes a variety of different career options at a number of levels. Nurses might hold anything from an associate degree to a master's degree, and their experience, area of expertise and education will determine what kind of nurse they are.

One of the highest-paying nursing careers in health care is the nurse anesthetist, who is responsible for administering anesthesia during surgical or dental operations. This is a big responsibility, and it requires an extensive training period and advanced college education.

Quick Facts: Nursing Industry
Median Pay:   $105,256 per year | $51 per hour
Entry-Level Education:   Associate's degree
Work Experience:   None
Number of Jobs, 2014:   2,915,000

Nursing Occupations:

  • Registered nurses$66,640
  • Nurse anesthetists$153,780
  • Nurse practitioners$95,350

Whether you are eager to begin earning the impressive salaries of nurse anesthetists or you simply want to make a difference with your job, find out more about the average pay for this career, what kind of education it takes, what attributes are found among the best nurse anesthetists and much more.

What Do Nurse Anesthetists Do?

Nurse anesthetists are an integral part of the medical industry, and it would be impossible to conduct any type of surgery without them. When patients are administered anesthesia, it can be a risky process, and someone needs to follow their health and vital signs during every step of the way.

This might include determining the correct dosage of anesthesia, checking heart rates and blood pressure throughout the procedure and then ensuring that the patient recovers well after the surgery is complete. Nurse anesthetists can perform these functions at hospitals, clinics, private practices and dental offices.

Those who work in this capacity may enjoy traditional office hours during the week, but that is not the norm. Longer shifts, especially during long surgeries, is common for nurse anesthetists.

What Education is Required For This Career?

In order to become a nurse anesthetist, individuals need to have both an undergraduate degree and an advanced degree. The bachelor's degree, which takes an average of four years to complete, should be in a subject like nursing or a health-related subject. Typical subjects to find on a course syllabus at this level might include that of patient relations, pharmacology, anesthesiology, anatomy and physiology.

After earning this undergraduate degree, those who want to move beyond the position of registered nurse will need to take an additional master's degree specializing specifically in anesthesiology. This advanced degree takes an additional one to two years to finish. Both the undergraduate and the graduate degree in nursing can be earned from the comfort of home through an accredited online college for those individuals with busy schedules, family lives or existing careers.

What Median Salaries Are Expected in the Field?

While it is possible to become a registered nurse with just two years of education, becoming a nurse anesthetist takes upwards of five years. Despite this, many people continue with their education in order to secure the impressive salaries found in the field.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average professional working as a nurse anesthetist can expect to earn a median salary of $154,390. However, it is important for aspiring nurse anesthetists to keep in mind that earning a degree is not a guarantee of that specific salary. Individual salaries depend on years of experience, competition in the local area, education and even the local cost of living.

What Job Growth or Decline is Predicted for Nurse Anesthetists?

While it can be tough to predict the future of any specific career, the BLS estimates that the job demand for nurse anesthetists will grow by 25 percent between now and 2022. This is a significant upward trend, even in the health care industry.

This growth is due to the rising number of patients visiting hospitals, the aging population and the rising rates of obesity in the United States. This impressive forecast should be encouraging to anyone thinking about pursuing this career, as it ensures that there will be a healthy market for graduates, impressive salaries and job security for at least the next decade.

What Attributes Are Found Among the Most Successful Professionals in the Field?

In order to become a nurse anesthetist, you will need a master's degree in the field. However, having a truly successful career also depends on having the key characteristics found among the best nurse anesthetists. Since the primary task involves determining how much of an anesthetic to use on a patient depending on their weight and the duration of the surgery, basic math skills are a necessity.

It is also important to be very detail-oriented, as things like slowly rising blood pressure need to be observed and noted constantly. Other helpful abilities to have include critical thinking, excellent communication and leadership.

What Are Some Similar Occupations to Consider?

Working as a nurse anesthetist is a demanding but fulfilling career, and it is one that can also be financially lucrative for the right candidate. However, there are also some similar careers that might be worthy alternatives.

If you are committed to working in the medical industry, alternatives might include careers like occupational therapist, nurse midwife, registered nurse, speech pathologist and physician assistant. Each of these options comes with the job security that you might be after as well as the knowledge that your job helps people directly on a regular basis.

Becoming a nurse anesthsist requires extensive study, and the process takes the average students between five and six years. As a result, you will be eligible for incredible earning potential, prestige and job security in the medical industry. For convenience, students can even opt to earn either of their required degrees through an accredited online college, which can allow for flexible learning according to their personal schedules. Find out how you can advance your degree in nursing online.