Career Story: Nurse Anesthetist

Nurse Anesthetist

Job Title: Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

Type of Company: My company provides anesthetists to two local hospitals, a plastic surgeon's office, a pain clinic and a fertility clinic.

Education: AAS, Maria College (Albany, NY) •• National Certification in Nurse Anesthesiology, Veterans Administration Hospital School for Nurse Anesthesiology (1983)

Previous Experience: I was a surgical floor nurse, then a staff OR nurse before becoming a nurse manager in a recovery room. I then applied and was accepted into the VA nurse anesthetist program. I have been a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) for 26 years now.

Job Tasks: Nurse anesthetists provide many types of anesthesia to many types of patients in all sorts of facilities and locations.

My job is providing anesthesia to patients in an operating room setting. Most of my work is in an ambulatory surgical center but I also administer anesthesia in a general hospital operating room. When I arrive in the OR, I begin my day with gathering equipment and medications that I will use for my cases. I check my anesthesia machine to verify that it is functioning properly, and check any equipment that I will be using. Then I meet with my patient, introduce myself and become familiar with his case. I review his medical record, his medications and allergies, his airway, the procedure being done, and learn as much about the patient as I can. This is all done to provide a safe environment. Knowing your patient and making a plan to take care of him is essential for patient safety. Often in my practice we work with anesthesiologists. They interview the patient also and are available if I need them in the OR.

When the patient comes to the OR, he's moved to the operating table. That is when I begin to place all the monitors on the him. once I've done this, I begin to administer a relaxant. At this point everyone in the room verifies the name of the patient along with the procedure that's been scheduled. When we are all in agreement, I proceed. I put medication in the IV, and the patient falls asleep. Once he's asleep, I can "manage" his airway, helping him to breathe. Sometimes that also means I intubate them. That is when I place a special tube, called an endotracheal tube, in through their mouth and into their larynx. The patient breathes anesthesia gases through this tube. The patient is asleep during this time and stays asleep throughout the surgery. All along I monitor the patients vital signs,temperature, breathing, IV fluids, blood loss, and position very closely. Once the procedure is complete, I wake the patient, make sure they are comfortable with pain meds and bring them to the Recovery room for observation. Then in about another 20 minutes, I am starting another procedure and I repeat all these same steps again.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of this job is meeting all sorts of people. Most people come to the operating room very nervous. I enjoy trying to comfort them, reassure them and calm them for surgery. I try to make their experience as pleasant as possible and being able to utilize my nursing skills along with my anesthesia skills is the best part of my job.

The worst part of my job is feeling bad for someone when you know that they have a terrible illness that they will suffer with. You wish you could cure them or help them, but you realize it is out of your control.

Job Tips:
1. Nurse anesthetist is a great career. We have lots of flexibility. Not only can you work just about anywhere but hours can be very flexible and places of employment can be in a variety of institutions.

2. Although the anesthesia program you get accepted into may seem very difficult and almost impossible at times, stick with it, and study hard. The rewards are well worth it.

3. Always keep the patient first. Remember who they are and the stresses they are under, and last be not least, remember they have put their trust in you!

Additional Thoughts: If you were to think about becoming a nurse anesthetist, you must be a compassionate person and one who pays attention to detail. You have to be able to think quickly and be ready to act and speak out on behalf of you patient. This profession requires that you maintain continuing education credits every two years to keep your national certification. This is important because many new drugs, techniques, health and surgical studies and medical equipment are coming out all the time. It is imperative that you keep informed about this information for patient safety.

I would not have changed one thing about how I approached my career. At the time when I applied to anesthesia school, we were given stipends to go to school. Now registered nurses with their BS degrees have to pay college tuition and graduate with their masters degrees. Not that I wouldn't mind having a masters degree (because the work was all the same) I was happy I didn't graduate with a large tuition bill.

What surprises me the most about my profession is that I have been providing anesthesia for 28 years and I still enjoy it very much. I don't know where the time has gone. Sometimes some days are very long, and some cases can be very difficult and stressful but for the most part administering anesthesia has been very rewarding.Often people cringe when I tell them I work in an operating room.They say they could never do that. At one time I would never think I could do that either but once you are in a controlled setting, it really isn't that bad. You have to focus on what you are there to do.

I would recommend this career choice to any nurse who would like the freedom to practice what they have learned and who has dedication to the safety and well being of their patients. Nurse Anesthesiology has been around for over 100 years. There are about 30,000 CRNA's in the United States and I'm glad to be one of them. So the next time you are having surgery, ask who is taking care of you. You might be lucky and have a nurse anesthetist.! Many people do not know that there is actually a Nationally recognized Nurse Anesthetist Week. It is usually the last week in January, and remember the way to say Anesthetist is A-nes-the-tist!

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