A Master's in Anesthesiology is actually a master's degree in nursing with a focus on anesthesiology. This degree qualifies you to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist. You can also choose to pursue a medical doctor degree, which is a doctoral program, and then specialize in anesthesiology during your residency. Read on to learn more about becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist through a master's degree program.
Prerequisites for Master's Program
In order to qualify to enroll in a Master's in Anesthesiology program, there are certain qualifications outlined by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists. You must have completed a bachelor's degree in nursing, be licensed as a registered nurse, have at least one year of acute care experience as a nurse in the intensive care unit, emergency room, or similar. To become a nurse anesthetist, it's best to enroll in an accredited education program; otherwise, you may not be eligible to take the national licensing exam. To find a program, visit the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) website.
Choosing a Master's Program
Most nurse anesthetist master's programs include a combination of classroom education and clinical experience. According to U.S. News and World Report, the top nurse anesthetists programs in the country are at the U.S. Army Graduate Program, Virginia Commonwealth University, Rush University, University of Pittsburgh, and Baylor College of Medicine. These programs are ranked by peer assessment and other factors.
What Nurse Anesthetists Do
Upon receiving your master's degree in anesthesiology and becoming licensed in your state, you'll be qualified to provide anesthesia and pain management services to patients during surgery and other procedures under the supervision of a physician. You'll discuss pain management needs and options with the patient and provide before and aftercare services as needed. You'll also monitor the patient's vital signs during the procedure and make any needed adjustments to the anesthesia.
Job Outlook and Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurse anesthetists make an average annual salary of $148,160. The highest paid nurse anesthetists work in a hospital setting as opposed to in a private clinic or outpatient care center. Most nurses in this role work full time, with some on call and weekend hours required–for example, for childbirth and emergency surgical procedures. This is also a fast-growing career field, with 43,900 new jobs (25 percent growth) projected over the next 10 years as the number of Americans requiring surgical procedures increases and new advancements are made in the medical field.
Related Resource: Nursing Administration
If you are interested in a high-paying career within the nursing field, consider working toward becoming a nurse anesthetist. The first step on this path is excelling in your math and science classes during high school and enrolling in a bachelor's of nursing program. After graduating, you'll typically work for at least a year in a hospital setting before going on to pursue your Master's in Anesthesiology.