As a working registered nurse, chances are good that you know how important proper anesthesia can be in clinical settings. Pain relief allows doctors and surgeons to focus on their work, keeps patients pain-free, and minimizes the risk of dangerous infections. In many parts of the United States, anesthesiologists are not the primary providers of pain relief—nurse anesthetists, advanced nurses with high-level training in anesthesiology, provide the majority of anesthesia services.
This statement is especially true in states like West Virginia, where rural hospitals serve most of the population. Few hospitals have the need or budget for anesthesiologists, and nurse anesthetists can provide most of the same services in a cost-effective manner. If you’d like to learn more about how you can become a CRNA in WV, reach out to the schools listed on our site to learn more.
The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists notes that nurse anesthetists are a crucial part of practice in many medical specialties. The two main fields in which CRNAs work are obstetrics and surgery, although CRNA services may be used in other specialties like emergency care and chronic pain management.
If you’re a registered nurse who is ready to take the next step in your nursing career, you may find what you’re looking for in nurse anesthesia. Learn more about nurse anesthesia programs in West Virginia to find out if this is the right career path for you.
After finding out what a nurse anesthetist does, it should be clear to you that this is a highly-respected specialty with strict expectations of its practitioners. Because of this, nurse anesthesia programs in West Virginia tend to have fairly stringent admissions requirements. However, they are very manageable in most cases. By working hard in nursing school and getting plenty of experience with your degree, you may be able to meet or exceed the admissions requirements of CRNA programs.
To start, you must have a Bachelor’s degree in nursing. Very few schools have RN-to-MSN programs for nurse anesthetists. In addition, you must have a fairly high GPA from your undergraduate years. Most schools require a GPA of at least 3.0. Several years of nursing experience may be required. You may need specialized experience in critical care, surgical nursing, or emergency care, as these are the situations in which many nurse anesthetists work.
Once you’ve been accepted to the CRNA program of your choice, you can begin tackling your coursework. Early classes in your curriculum may include Principles of Anesthesia, Advanced Health Assessment, Theoretical Foundations for Nursing, and Advanced Pharmacology. Advanced coursework may include classes like Research Methods in Nurse Anesthesia, Clinical Anesthesia, and Advanced Principles of Anesthesia. In these courses, you gain a breadth of clinical experience. Your clinical experience must exceed 550 cases by graduation.
With acceptance to a CRNA program, you can start looking into financial aid options in West Virginia. Quite a few associations, schools, and employers provide financial aid to advanced nursing students. The West Virginia Center for Nursing funds scholarships for graduate nursing students, as does the state-sponsored Health Sciences Scholarship Program. CAMC, a local nursing employer, financially supports graduate nurses in different specialties.
After completing your degree, the next step in your career is getting your advanced nursing license. This requires you to apply for certification as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist and then pursue your state license through the West Virginia RN Board. They require proof of your national certification, a copy of your graduate degree transcript, and proof of your current, valid RN license.
Once you have your CRNA license, you can begin working independently in a clinical setting. You must have professional liability insurance before you work on patients; this is a licensing requirement and a requirement of nursing employers. Your insurance protects you and your employer from liability in the case of an error or accident.
As you prepare to start your career, consider joining the West Virginia Association of Nurse Anesthetists. This group supports the interests of CRNAs across the state through legislative efforts, advocacy support, and continuing education opportunities. Membership in this group may put you in touch with other anesthesiology professionals and allow you to learn about upcoming professional opportunities in your area.
One major benefit of working in this nursing specialty is the positive job outlook. Between 2012 and 2022, O*Net expects to see a 25 percent increase in nurse anesthesia jobs. The demand may be especially high in rural areas, so consider relocating to a rural part of West Virginia for the greatest variety of job options.
In addition, salaries in West Virginia are often considerably higher than the national average. O*Net reports an average salary of $164,600 per year, which is over $13,000 higher than the national average.
Are your ready to invest in your future with an advanced nursing degree? Contact CRNA programs in West Virginia to learn more about how to get started today.