Salary Booster: How to get your nurse anesthetist degree

iStockphoto | ThinkStock
iStockphoto | ThinkStock

Nurse anesthetists make some of the highest salaries in the nursing world, primarily because of the odd hours and significant responsibilities. However, certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) programs can be some of the most grueling advanced nursing programs out there. Be prepared to complete your program successfully with these helpful tips.

5 steps you need to take to get your nurse anesthetist degree

1. Brush up on your math skills.

Anesthesia doses are largely calculated based on weight in kilograms for everyone, not just pediatric clients. Just as in regular nursing, a single error in math could cause death, and you may not have time to double check your work. Become confident with performing basic math functions and algebra (solving for X), both on paper and in your head.

2. Work in an anesthesia-related or critical care department.

The operating room, pain management department, PACU (post-anesthesia/recovery room), CVICU (open heart recovery), NICU (neonatal) or SICU (surgical) will be your best bets. All of these departments either care for or help recover clients under anesthesia. You can read all about certain adverse reactions to anesthesia medications, but witnessing them can give you the experience you need later on to make split-second decisions under pressure. In addition, many CRNA programs require current acute care experience in order to apply.

3. Apply to schools associated with numerous high-acuity surgical cases.

Just like in the point above, seeing something is worth 1000 times more than just reading about it. High-acuity cases require more delicate approaches to anesthesia, thus giving you a glimpse of how clients with various preexisting conditions will respond to the medications.

4. Get certified.

Admission requirements often include certifications in basic life support (BLS/CPR), advanced life support (ACLS) and pediatric life support (PALS). The Certification in Critical Care Nursing (CCRN) is also preferred. See the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) website for more information.

5. Get licensure in the state in which you will study.

CRNA programs include significant clinical hours, and you will be practicing under your current RN license while learning. Expect to dedicate at least 60 hours a week for a minimum of 24-28 months to complete a standard CRNA degree program.

Are you currently enrolled in a CRNA program? Share your tips with us in the comments!

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