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Career Profile: Nurse Anesthetist

Why Is Nursing Anesthetics a Job of Tomorrow?
Employment positions for registered nurses, including nurse anesthetists, are expected to increase 23 percent by 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Registered nurses are the largest health care occupation, and will likely remain in that top position. The average annual salary for all specialties of full-time nurse anesthetists is $157,000, according to PayScale and CNN.

What Does a Nurse Anesthetist Do?
Nurse anesthetists are registered nurses who are trained and certified to administer anesthesia, which is used to block pain when a patient is undergoing a procedure. Nurse anesthetists can work as licensed independent practitioners under the supervision of a physician. The amount of independence under which a nurse anesthetist may work differs among states because of varying regulations. The job itself is extremely delicate, as nurses must be sure to give only as much anesthesia as needed to alleviate pain or render a patient unconscious without giving the patient too much, which can be fatal. The variety of fields in nurse anesthetics include podiatry and obstetrics, as a number of fields within the health care industry require the skills of licensed nurse anesthetists to increase the comfort of their patients. In fact, each year, more than 26 million people in the United States undergo medical procedures that require anesthesia, according to the Mayo Clinic.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become a Nurse Anesthetist?
Nurse anesthetists must have a master’s degree in health care to practice. To enroll in a nurse anesthetist program, students must already be an experienced registered nurse. Anesthetic programs typically last two years, and cover how to handle anesthetic equipment and medical ethics and laws. After earning a master’s degree, prospective nurse anesthetists must also pass a national certification exam administered by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists.

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