Career Expectations for a DNAP (Doctor of Nursing Anesthesia Practice)

Obtaining a Doctorate in Nursing Anesthesia Practice is a time-honored tradition. Nurse Anesthetists have been around for over 150 years starting around the Civil War era. Back then, they helped care for wounded soldiers. Now, an anesthesia nurse spends their days assisting both surgeons and supervising physicians in the intensive care unit of a hospital or clinic. They usually work under the supervision of a board-certified Anesthesiologist. A nurse anesthetist sees patients before, during, and after surgical procedures. People in this field will work not only on surgical care but also obstetric and trauma care patients as well.

What does a Nurse Anesthetist Do?

Common tasks of a nurse anesthetist are setting up or attending to anesthetic equipment before use. Preoperative actions are necessary in order for equipment to remain operational throughout the procedure.  Another preoperative task for the nurse anesthetist is performing a physical assessment of the patient. Monitoring the patient’s medication is also needed, so the patient does not feel any pain during the surgical procedures. Overseeing the recovery process of the patient is also done by the nurse anesthetist. Following up on a patient’s post-op treatment is also a responsibility of the nurse anesthetist.

There are several skills that are recommended or, in some cases, required for a nurse anesthetist. Here is a small skill list for people heading into this field.

  • Sterilization techniques
  • Anesthesia protocol
  • Pre/post surgery routine
  • Medical terminology
  • Reading cardiac monitors
  • Intravenous and inhalation systems

DNAP Education Requirements

To become a Nurse Anesthetist, one must first become a Registered Nurse (RN) and hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. As for nurse anesthetist schooling years, as students, they must have obtained at least one year of working experience in an acute care setting. Courses of interest are Anatomy, Physiology and Vital Statistics. Knowledge of heart rate monitoring, Blood Pressure (BP), and body temperature are also required. Once someone has earned their undergraduate degree, they can now be considered a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). Finally, the graduate must take and pass the NBCRNA exam. This a bachelor’s degree holder in nursing the credentials to become a CRNA. Beyond that, a two-to-three-year DNP degree rounds out the credentialing process for this degree. These doctorate programs do not have to break the bank, and can, in fact, be quite affordable. 

Job Options and Career Paths for Nurse Anesthetists

The typical work setting is in hospitals and clinics, however, some can be found in dentist and podiatry offices. Working in obstetrical delivery rooms are also common places of employment. Occasionally a nurse anesthetist will work at public health service healthcare facilities, assisting clients who have either no or little insurance to pay for surgical procedures. In fact, in some states, a CRNA is the sole provider of care in a rural hospital setting. Many nurse anesthetists must work a flexible schedule. They can be called in at the last minute for emergency situations. The job market for a Nurse Anesthetist is in high demand, due to a shortage of people with this set of credentials. It is becoming popular over the past several years because of the increasing aging population.

The CRNA DNP salary as of 2017 is $169,450, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). According to the BLS, there are five states that have the highest employment level for this field. These five states are Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Tennessee.