What is it like working at a nurse anesthetist?


I have been a nurse anesthetist for over 15 years. I truly enjoy what I do. It is financially lucrative but it is the ability and satisfaction of caring for people that keeps me in the profession.

My practice has included trauma, transplant, high risk OB, ortho, bariatrics, plastics and a huge variety of cases outside of those specialty areas.


Sometimes I work as a colleague of an anesthesiologist. Sometimes, I work under an anesthesiologist’s supervision. Often, I work completely independently.

Most surgeons don’t care if I am a CRNA or anesthesiologist. They care if I am capable and competent.

I have always excelled academically, so I was surprised to find graduate school rigorous, extremely competitive and difficult. There were two students in my class who had done their first year of medical school. They were both already ICU Registered Nurses. They re-thought their plans and went into the nurse anesthetist program instead. Both claimed that the program was harder than the first year of medical school. They were stunned to discover that. How does it compare to the rest of medical school? I have no idea.

To be accepted into a program, you must have experience as an ICU RN. You need excellent grades and stellar test scores. For my program, my oral interview consisted of 4 people firing anatomy and physiology questions at me. I was asked:

1.Trace the blood flow through the heart naming as many anatomical structures as possible.

2. When we drop the CO2 for a patient with increased intercranial pressure, explain why and how we do that and explain the physiological theory behind it.

3. How does a Pulse Oximeter work? Explain the science.

4. How and why Atropine works in a code situation?

5. Explain Starlings Law and oncotic pressure.

6.How does the oxyhemoglobin disassociation curve work?

7. Explain the interpretation of a Arterial Blood Gas.

The program is looking for people who can process information and know how to apply it. Rote memorization is not the goal. Application of information is key. You will not succeed if you cannot apply knowledge.

Money? You can expect to make $170,000 to $250,000 a year with 5–6 weeks of paid vacation.

Credit: Win Marsh


Answer ( 1 )

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