Specialized nursing personnel play a prominent role all across the country. However, they are especially important in Alaska, where residents may live in areas that make travel to medical facilities unlikely or impossible. Here, advanced nursing professionals may provide many of the same services offered by doctors at a fraction of the price. As a registered nurse, you may have looked into a career in nurse anesthesia. This field can give you the skills you need to provide a highly-valued service and improve outcomes for patients.
Nurse anesthesia is a field that has existed for many years in the United States. Improperly-administered anesthesia was often linked to high morbidity and mortality rates for patients, leading to a demand for skilled professionals that could focus solely on anesthesia. Since trained RNs already have the patient interaction and care skills that are needed for an advanced health care career, nurses were the natural choice.
By becoming a nurse anesthetist, you can learn about different types of pain relief, the best anesthetic for a variety of situations, and how anesthetic must be administered for maximum efficacy. Since this career path requires you to work with patients at particularly risky points in their lives, you need extensive training and education before you can begin working as a CRNA. Learn more about CRNA programs in Alaska to find out if this is the right career move for you.
Prior to starting a career in the field of nurse anesthesia, you must graduate from an accredited CRNA program. This is a master's-level nursing degree that requires a Bachelor's degree in nursing. However, a few select schools to have RN-to-MSN programs that permit you to earn this degree with just an Associate's degree in nursing.
To be considered for admission into a CRNA program, you must meet a set of requirements. Many programs require at least one year of full-time nursing experience, although quite a few schools require two to three years of work experience. Furthermore, you must have completed your BSN with at least a 3.0. Since this can be a fairly competitive specialty, a higher GPA may be helpful as you navigate the admissions process. In addition, you should plan on taking the GRE with a score in the top 50th percentile in both sections.
The curriculum for a CRNA program is comprised of two parts. First, you complete your theoretical training in the classroom, learning from skilled nurse anesthetists and developing an expansive knowledge of pain relief and pharmacology. Courses you may take in this program include Professional Aspects of Nurse Anesthesia Practice, Pharmacology of Anesthetic Agents, Principles of Anesthesia Practice, and Pharmacology of Anesthetic Agents. As you complete these courses, you may also start working on the clinical requirements laid out by your school. You may see over 500 patients throughout the duration of your program. In the early part of your time as a student, this may involve watching CRNAs carry out anesthetic procedures. As you progress, you may take on more and more physical responsibilities until you work with only the supervision of a CRNA or instructor.
As a CRNA student in Alaska, you may be interested in applying for scholarships to minimize your out-of-pocket costs. The NURSE Corps Scholarship Program, hosted by the Health Resources and Services Administration, may be available to you if you're willing to work in an in-demand location after graduation. The Alaska Nurses Association also awards scholarships to nursing students.
When you start approaching the end of your CRNA program in Alaska, you can prepare for licensure as a CRNA. This process goes through the Alaska Board of Nursing. You must pay a number of fees, including a $50 application fee, a $60 authorization fee, a $50 prescriptive authority fee, a $50 controlled substances application fee, and a temporary permit fee. Before you receive your license, you must also pay a $60 fingerprint processing fee. The Board of Nursing may look at your transcripts and your clinical hours to ensure that you meet the requirements of the state of Alaska. After you receive your license, you must renew it every other year during even-numbered years to keep practicing.
For most RNs, completing a CRNA degree may lead to an increase in earning potential. Per O*Net, the average salary for a nurse anesthetist in Alaska is $111,900 per year. The top 10 percent of nurse anesthetists earn more than $187,200 per year (O*Net, 2013).
Earning a Master's degree in nursing and becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist may have a positive impact on your nursing career and your professional satisfaction. Not only can you enjoy working more independently, your extensive knowledge of anesthesia can make you an important resource at your place of employment. It may also assist you in being a nursing professional that patients can rely on. Furthering your education in nursing may enrich the field of nursing by encouraging others to learn more, contribute to research, and meet the standards of evidence-based practice.
The nursing community is full of opportunities for those who want to take their career to the next level and help patients receive high-quality care. If a career in nurse anesthesia sounds like it might be a good fit for you, contact Alaska CRNA schools today to find out what options you have.