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For patients, anesthesia offers freedom from pain and facilitates medical treatments from the most common to the life-saving. Each year, more than 26 million people in the U.S. undergo medical procedures requiring anesthesia. In many of these cases, the anesthesia is administered by a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). Nurse anesthetists were among the first providers of anesthesia and have been administering it for more than 100 years.
As anesthesia specialists, CRNAs provide anesthesia care for patients before, during and after surgical and obstetrical procedures. They administer medications to keep patients asleep or pain-free during surgery and constantly monitor every important function of the patient's body.
CRNAs are advanced practice registered nurses. Since 1998, CRNA graduates are required to have specialized graduate-level education in anesthesiology. Anesthesia, in the hands of qualified professionals such as CRNAs, is a safe and effective means of alleviating pain during nearly every type of medical procedure.
Nurse anesthesia is an academically and clinically stimulating field that carries a high degree of responsibility.
Career opportunities for nurse anesthetists are outstanding. Today, 44,000 certified registered nurse anesthetists provide cost-effective, quality patient care that is essential to America's health care system. The demand for CRNAs far outpaces the supply.
Nurse anesthetists are employed nationwide in hospitals, surgical clinics, the military, psychiatric institutions, respiratory therapy departments, emergency rooms, dental offices, outpatient surgery facilities and private practices.
Although Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences has no formal placement service, a large number of employers inform the school when they have openings. Mayo Clinic's Department of Anesthesiology actively recruits graduates from the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences Nurse Anesthesia Program.
Salaries for nurse anesthetists exceed most nursing specialties, depending on location and experience. Median annual base salary for full-time nurse anesthetists was $159,000 in 2012.