If you’re fascinated by the healthcare field and are looking for a unique, rewarding career option, you may want to learn more about how to become a nurse anesthesiologist. These advanced nursing professionals, also known as nurse anesthetists, are trained in pain management. They are responsible for providing anesthetic to patients before and after surgery, as well as during any kind of painful experience like trauma, childbirth or illness. They remain with patients to monitor and adjust pain medication levels as needed and are an important part of a medical team.
As a nurse anesthesiologist, you could take on a number of roles. They may work as first responders, pain management specialists or emergency care coordinators. It’s possible for a nurse anesthetist to work independently or be associated with a medical professional or facility.
In this position, you would encounter a wide variety of patients. Upon meeting a patient, it is the nurse anesthetist’s job to interview them in order to determine the correct type of anesthetic and dosage. You would then discuss what to expect and answer any questions. It is important that you enjoy interacting with people, as it is a responsibility of the job to help allay patient fears and make them feel comfortable.
Should you become a nurse anesthesiologist, you could find yourself working in any number of settings in which anesthetics are given. Some of these include government and public health facilities, hospitals and outpatient surgical centers, as well as in the offices of practitioners like dentists, podiatrists, ophthalmologists or surgeons, according to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists.
State law will determine whether you can work independently or within an association of medical providers. Nurse anesthetists provide the only anesthetic administration in many rural hospitals. They are also the primary anesthesia providers for pregnant women and those in the armed forces. It’s important to note that, although most of your work will occur during regular business hours, you will likely spend some evenings and weekends on-call for emergencies.
In order to become a nurse anesthesiologist, you will need at least a master’s degree in nursing. Many choose to pursue a doctorate. Prior to entering a master’s program, you’ll need to complete a four-year bachelor’s in nursing and pass licensure requirements to become a Registered Nurse (RN). All programs will require an academic component, as well as a clinical portion in which you will work hands-on in an associated medical facility.
There may be other paths to becoming a nurse anesthetist, such as bridge programs that allow those with an associate’s degree to enter a master’s program or nurse anesthetist certification programs offered by some nursing schools to those with a master’s degree in another specialty area. The requirements will vary for each program, and not all employers may accept such academic preparation.
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As you can see, this can be a very challenging position, with a great deal of responsibility. It is also an immensely rewarding field that offers a great deal of opportunity.