Most people have never heard of the profession called CRNA. This profession is highly unrecognized and the numbers show it. There are only 38,000 practicing CRNAs (this doesn’t include student CRNAs) in the United States which may seem like a lot but compared to say construction workers which are employed by the millions, the number is miniscule.
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CRNAs are just as important as Anesthesiologists if not more since they do the same job and more of the prep work. Through the study of nursing and anesthesia, the student of medicine can better understand anesthesiology. Most CRNAs have a minimum of a masters degree but you can get a doctoral degree in this field. “Becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) can be a rewarding career choice due to personal satisfaction, benefits to society, and relatively generous compensation” (How).
CRNAs require several years of schooling and experience prior to becoming certified in their field. AANA provides a possible path to becoming a Nursing Anesthetist. First, earn a BSN degree or something similar, while it is not required for you to earn a BSN to become an RN a BSN can give an edge on the competition when applying to any accredited CRNA program.
Triton college has an Associates degree of Nursing program which partners with other Bachelors of Science in Nursing programs. Tritons program is a two-year course that includes clinical time as well as lab and lecture classes. Triton held an ADN seminar to help anyone wanting to go into the program find more information regarding what classes they need to take, how selective the program is, when the program’s application exams are, how the scoring for the program works, and some information about the TEAS exam.
There are a bunch of classes needed just for general education for getting into the program but the three most important classes are BIS 241, PSY100, and RHT 101. The reason behind these classes being the most important is they add to your admission points. The minimum number of points is 6 while the max is 10. Just because someone meets the minimum doesn’t mean they will be accepted into the program. An applicants GPA will earn them points toward their admission but the GPA accounts for the 3 courses listed earlier. For example, the applicant needs AT LEAST a 2.5 to get in. If they earned a “C” in RHT, a “C” in PSY, and a “B” in BIS their total GPA would only be a 2.4 and they would not be qualified to be considered into the program. From a GPA of 2.5-2.9 will earn the applicant 2 points. A GPA from 3.0-3.49 will be given 3 points. The highest amount of points to be earned from a GPA is 4 points meaning those 3 courses earn a GPA of 3.5 or more.
The next way to earn points if through the applicants TEAS scores. Applicants can earn 2-4 points through their TEAS scores.“TEAS, which stands for Test of Essential Academic Skills, is administered through Assessment Technologies Institute (ATI) Nursing Education. The test is a basic aptitude test designed to identify students who would succeed in nursing school and who have the ability to think like a nurse” (Wilson). This test is comprised of 4 tests which are Reading(40 questions), Math (45 questions), Science (30 questions), and English (55 Questions). The minimum is earning a 58.7% on all these tests put together. Anything from 58.7%-77.9% will be given 2 points. Earning a 78%-89.9% will be given 3 points. Having a 90% or higher will be given 4 points towards the admission score. “The difficulty of the tests allows schools to select students to have the best chances to succeed academically” (Wilson) The other 2 points are awarded for previous college history ranging from if the applicant ever earned a “D” or “F” to whether they have earned an Associates or Bachelors degree prior.
There are additional program requirements like a drug screening criminal background check alcohol breath test, knowing CPR, and making sure all annual flu shots are up to date. After acceptance into the program, the courses and work are very tough on each student and it is suggested that students don’t work and only focus on school. Once an ADN is completed the student can transfer to a $-year University to complete their BSN. As mentioned before Triton partners with other colleges for a 4-year degree to make the transition as smooth as possible for students and this also means that most, if not all, credits transfer.
One college that Triton works with is Dominican. “The Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Dominican University is a natural complement to Dominican’s strength in the sciences, as the university already boasts a strong reputation for its programs in biology, chemistry, neuroscience, nutrition science, and medical science” (Sramseth). Dominican has many faculty members with years of nursing experience to help students connect their in-classrom learning with real-world settings. Once a degree is earned, become licensed to practice as a nurse which involves usually passing an approved training program and the NCLEX-RN. The exam covers a variety of topics ranging from health assessment to infection control. Licensure and requirements may vary throughout the states so it is important to check prior to registering for an exam.
Once you become an RN it is time to earn your stripes. You need experience before applying to an accredited CRNA program. At least 1 full year of work as an ICU, CCU, or ER nurse is to be expected before applying. During this time some nurses choose to earn a specialization as a critical care nurse which can help their chances of getting into a certified registered nurse anesthetist program. “Eligibility for a critical care registered nurse includes having a valid RN license, passing an exam, and completing at least 1,750 hours of direct critical care within the previous two years” (How). Some programs advise nurses to shadow CRNAs for the experience.
According to the AANA, there are 121 accredited CRNA programs and over 1,799 active clinical sites. “Admission to these programs can be highly competitive”(How). Before applying one should check the admission requirements prior to applying to an accredited CRNA program. The programs take anywhere from 2-3 years of study where you graduate with a minimum of a master’s degree. There are some programs that offer a doctoral degree in this profession. These programs, whether it be for a master or doctorate, include courses from anesthesia pharmacology to anesthesia pathophysiology. “Additionally, the nurse anesthesia programs include clinical practice in university-based or large community hospitals where students are exposed to a range of procedures requiring anesthesia such as pediatric, plastic, and open-heart surgeries”(How Do I Become a Nurse Anesthetist).
The Drexel University offers a Masters Of Nursing in Anesthesia which is an on-campus 28-month, 89- quarter credit full-time program. Drexel University is one of the top programs in the U.S.A. for earning an MSN in Anesthesia making it very difficult to get into. In this program “students take part in nurse anesthesia clinical practicum under the direct supervision of certified registered nurse anesthetists and/or anesthesiologists to learn how to administer a variety of anesthetics including sedation during monitored anesthesia care, general anesthesia, and regional anesthesia. Additional clinical subspecialty rotations provide anesthesia management experience for the obstetrical, pediatric, cardiac, and neurosurgical patients” (Master). The program is very rigorous with an attrition rate of 12% as of last may. The program offers credits in science, clinical practicum, and nursing and research.
Getting an MSN is one way of earning your CRNA degree. Another is earning your DNAP which stands for Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice. By the year 2025, all CRNAs will be required to have completed a doctorate in nurse anesthesia to enter into the field. Virginia Commonwealth University is ranked number one in Nursing-Anesthesia as of 2016. The program offers on and off campus classes for the first two semesters in which the students may continue w1orking as RNs. “Semesters three and four are a traditional format and employment is strongly discouraged” (College). Semester 4 is when the clinical training really takes place. There are 6 clinical practicum courses in this program stressing any and all relevant science and research in anesthesia practice while engaging in direct patient care. “Throughout the Clinical Practicum coursework, students will be afforded the opportunity to plan for and administer all types of currently accepted general and regional anesthesia techniques to a variety of patients ranging in medical and surgical acuity. Graduate students will be assigned to various anesthetizing locations with selected affiliate hospitals. At all times while in the clinical environment, students will be directly supervised, instructed, and counseled by CRNA and/or physician anesthesiologist Clinical Instructors” (College).
For admission into this program, students must have a Baccalaureate degree in nursing or related science, be licensed as an RN, a minimum score of 3.0 on a 4.0 GPA scale, minimum one-year ICU experience, references, interview, and a completion of the GRE. The GRE stands for Graduate Record Examination. This test is commonly required for admission to any grad school. “Much like the SAT and ACT, the GRE exam is a broad assessment of your critical thinking, analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning skills — all skills developed over the course of many years” (Brian). It is divided into 3 main sections the Analytical Writing section, the Verbal, and the Quantitative. These sections may include unscored and research sections with questions that are being used for future tests. Test takers won’t know which are scored and which are not so they must try their hardest on all the questions.
After completing an accredited program, nurses must take the National Certification Exam to become a CRNA. This is a computer exam which typically lasts 3 hours and the exam adjusts according to the participators answers to previous questions. After all the hard work, during school and the exam nurses can finally apply for an entry-level position as a CRNA. Some employers seek CRNAs that can work a variety of departments while others look for nurses who specialize in a certain practice. To stay a CRNA you must recertify through the NBCRNA every 2 years. “The process includes proof of valid RN license, 40 hours of continued education, verification of work in anesthetics during the prior two years, and absence of mental or physical conditions that could interfere with the practice of anesthesia” (How Do I Become a Nurse Anesthetist).
Skills that may be useful as a CRNA are good people skills. You must able to explain to a patient and their family what is going on and what will happen. You must be able to focus on more than one thing all at once and not become distracted. Noticing problems and identifying the best way to fix them is a very desirable ability to have as a CRNA. Looking for ways to help people whether that be mentally or physically is a great skill and predisposition to have when practicing as a CRNA. Helping patients to stay calm before a surgery is a great factor in how the surgery goes, a stable mind equals a stable surgery.
“The work begins when a patient is scheduled for a medical procedure. If the patient needs anesthetics, then a CRNA will help. These nurses consult with the patients’ doctors to find out about the procedure. They also find out the condition of the patient. They review medical records and talk to patients about their medical history. This helps them decide what kind of anesthetic to use and how to administer it” (Welcome). The nurses answer any questions the patients may have prior to the surgery since patients are often nervous about being put under. The CRNAs, when it is time, put the patient to sleep whether that be through injection of gas. During the surgery, the CRNAs job is the check of the patient’s vitals and keep them safe. Sometimes the anesthetic needs to be changed and the CRNAs also do this job. “You need to be highly motivated, highly educated, and extremely detail-oriented — and on top of that you need to be extremely personable,” he says. “You have anywhere from 5-15 minutes to get to know your patient such that they are willing to entrust their lives to you” (Taube).
Luckily, there will never be a shortage of job opportunities for this profession as it has a bright outlook for future jobs. As of 2014, there are 1,860 CRNAs employed in Illinois. This number is projected to increase to 2,180 by the year 2024. That’s 320 more jobs and a 17.2% increase just in the state of Illinois. Salary expectations are pretty good with the median salary in Illinois being $135,980 or $65.37 an hour. Income, of course, all depends on experience level as well as the employer and geographic location.
CRNAs are in demand all over the country and the job opportunities, as I have mentioned, will only increase. The best prospects for this profession will be in rural areas where you can make more than the median salary and sometimes almost $100,000 more. In Montana, CRNAs earn the highest average salary at a very high $243,550. There will never be a shortage for nurses or CRNAs in the medical industry since the industry is always growing and we find out new things about the human body every day. Being a CRNA has been voted as one of the top 5 medical professions and is also in the top 100 best paying jobs out there. The reason for it being one of the 100 best paying jobs and top 5 medical professions is the responsibility that comes with the title as well as if something goes bad during a surgery a CRNA is one of the first people to know.
Brian. “The GRE Test: What You Need to Know.” Peterson’s, Peterson’s, 25 June 2018, www.petersons.com/blog/the-gre-test-what-you-need-to-know/. “College of Health Professions.” Programs | VCU Nurse Anesthesia, nrsa.chp.vcu.edu/programs/dnap-entry-to-practice/. “Master of Science in Nursing in Nurse Anesthesia.” College of Nursing and Health Professions, drexel.edu/cnhp/academics/graduate/MSN-Nursing-Nurse-Anesthesia/. Sramseth. “Bachelor of Science in Nursing.” Dominican University Home | Dominican University, 13 Apr. 2017, www.dom.edu/academics/majors-programs/bachelor-science-nursing. Taube, Aaron. “Here’s Why Nurse Anesthetists Earn Over $150,000 A Year.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 15 Sept. 2014, www.businessinsider.com/why-nurse-anesthetists-make-150000-a-year-2014-9. “Welcome to Career Cruising 2.0.” Career Cruising, 2018, www2.careercruising.com/careers/profile-at-a-glance/652. Wilson, Brittney. “What Is the TEAS Test and How Can I Study for It?” The Nerdy Nurse, 3 Sept. 2018, thenerdynurse.com/what-is-the-teas-test-and-how-can-i-study-for-it/.
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