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Career Outlook for Nurse Anesthetists

Apr 08, 2010

Thinking of working in the health care industry, but you don’t want to be a doctor or regular nurse? Then perhaps a career as a nurse anesthetist is right for you. Although it takes a lot of training to become a nurse anesthetist, the job outlook is very positive, and it is expected that there will be a large demand for those who are trained to be nurse anesthetists in the near future. If you were to start your training and education now, you could be ready in just a couple of years to take on a challenging career in the health care industry.

To be a nurse anesthestist, you need to have a master’s degree in nursing, which is one reason why it is expected that there will be a shortfall in the number of NAs available in the next short while. Meanwhile, hospitals that are looking to cut costs are trying to hire more nurse anesthetists to replace the more expensive anesthesiologists.

Nurse anesthetists are also widely used in non-hospital settings, such as dental offices and extended care homes. In care facilities where the elderly are looked after, there is expected to be an increase in patients as the baby boomers age, and with that there will be more demand for nurse anesthetists to help manage their pain.

In the United States there are approximately 19,000 jobs available for nurse anesthetists, and the average wage is above $150,000. Over a ten-year period from 2006-2016, it is expected that the number of jobs in this area will rise an incredible 23% – much higher than most job groups. By starting your education and training now you can be ready for this fast-paced and fun job in a few years. Those who already have a nursing degree or bachelor’s degree can be ready even sooner, and the salary bump is quite significant.

Most of the growth for nurse anesthetists will be in hospitals, where they are needed during surgical procedures as well as for general pain management for those with painful afflictions or recovering from an operation. On the plus side, working as a nurse anesthetist means you will never run out of things to do, as you will always be busy helping someone.

Working in a hospital setting means you will have a lot of structure, as well as paperwork. This is why some nurse anesthetists prefer to work in other health care settings, such as nursing homes or extended health care centers. In these environments you get to know your patients better, as you will likely interact with them a few times per week.

Some nurse anesthetists may prefer to specialize even further, such as in gerontology or natal care. This increases their employability and gives them more job autonomy as they can likely become the nurse in charge. Others may prefer less job responsibility and will “float” between hospitals or care centers that need them. There is really no limit to where you can go once you are trained as a nurse anesthetist.

While the commitment to education to become a nurse anesthetist is significant (only a year or two shy of becoming a doctor), the pay and benefits are significant. As long as you have a passion for learning and a willingness to help others this could be an incredible career for you, and it will always be interesting. Find out just how much training you need to become a nurse anesthetist, and get started on the road to training for a successful, challenging career.

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