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What Does a Military Nurse Anesthetist Do?

Jessica F. Black
Jessica F. Black

A military nurse anesthetist provides a variety of services to military personnel, but his or her primary duty is to oversee the entire anesthesia process during surgical procedures. In some cases, he or she may be the only licensed professional able to administer anesthesia to a patient. Depending on the location of employment, a military nurse anesthetist may work closely with a team of medical professionals to provide adequate care for a patient who is undergoing surgery. Locations that often require a medical team include military hospitals and veteran clinics.

In many instances, a nurse in this position may work alone in the field including aboard a naval vessel or in undisclosed military locations. There are several steps that a military nurse anesthetist must take throughout the course of a patient's anesthesia process. He or she may need to first assess the patient including medical history and other information that is vital to the patient's response to anesthesia. A professional in this position is generally responsible for educating the patient on the surgical procedure or other treatment that is scheduled. In addition, a military nurse anesthetist is often responsible for administering the anesthesia in designated intervals to ensure that the process is painless.


While the patient is under, the anesthetist should supervise the patient's vital signs and reactions to the medication. Postoperative care is an important duty performed by a military nurse anesthetist who may need to consult with physicians and other support staff in regard to the aftereffects that some patients experience. Some units may require that a person in this position is also in charge of anesthesia equipment, drug inventory, and training support staff. He or she may also be required to work under stressful working conditions on an active site during war. In addition to nursing training, this individual is often trained to perform in a combat work environment and address medical issues associated with combat.

Nurse anesthesia is often recognized as one of the first clinical nursing specialties and the establishment of this profession dates back to the 1800s. Although the profession was defined and recognized in the 1800s, military nurse anesthetists became a popular position in the armed services in the early 1900s at the brink of World War I (WWI). Prior to WWI there were few training programs for this nursing specialty, but the increasing demand for this profession also caused an increase in military programs that offered training in this field.

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