There are many nurse anesthetist schools and programs in the US, due to an increasing need for medical care professionals with advanced or specialized knowledge. When trying to find the best nurse anesthetist schools, you should consider both the reputation of the schools and your own needs or interests. Many nurse anesthetist programs are highly competitive and quite rigorous, and all of them require two to three years of full-time study plus clinical practice hours. All programs lead to a Master’s degree, and many have the option to pursue a PhD.
All reputable nurse anesthetist schools require a Bachelor’s degree in nursing, and the applicant must be a licensed RN with at least one year of critical-care experience. Some schools require more than a year of nursing experience, while others have specific guidelines about the type of experience, such as trauma or acute care. The best nursing schools have thousands of applicants, but only accept dozens of students, so these schools will also ask for excellent references and an intense interview process.
Most nurse anesthetist schools require students to be able to demonstrate that they work well under pressure in a variety of stressful situations. Nurse anesthetists have a great deal of responsibility, which is they are some of the more highly paid nursing professionals in the US. Although nurse anesthetists work alongside doctors and do not diagnose patients or prescribe medications, they must be quick-thinking and confident enough to adjust patients’ medication, place invasive anesthesia administration and monitoring devices like pulmonary catheters, and provide emergency respiratory and cardiac resuscitation.
Nurse anesthetist schools should have classes in chemistry, biochemistry, and physics. The curriculum should also include courses in anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology. Another crucial component of the curriculum is pharmacology. The structure of nurse anesthetist programs differs in that some have all the clinical hours in the final year of study while others have the clinical hours evenly distributed throughout the program. Most courses require at least one elective so you can pursue a topic of special interest.
Upon completion of the nursing program, you will need to pass a national board certification exam to get a license and begin working. A qualified nurse anesthetist should have knowledge and experience about administering and monitoring different types of anesthetics. You should also be able to counsel patients prior to going under anesthesia, identify problems while under anesthesia, and deal with pain management during post-operative care.