Nurse Anesthetist

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Nurse Anesthetists administer intravenous, spinal, and other anesthetics to patients undergoing all types of medical and dental surgical procedures, to obstetrical patients, and to other hospital patients. They work under the supervision of a physician to render patients insensitive to pain.


Nurse Anesthetists may:  

Assemble supplies and equipment; test functioning of machines  

Clean and sterilize instruments and equipment by set procedures  

Study exam results to determine effects of anesthetic on patient 

Check that appropriate blood is available for emergency use  

Explain procedure to patient to build confidence and cooperation

Verify identification and position patient on operating table  

Administer initial medications prescribed by a physician 

Prepare prescribed solutions for and start intravenous injections

Give anesthetic and maintain patient during surgery 

Watch patient for changes in skin color and dilation of pupils 

Take patient's vital signs at regular intervals and evaluate the significance of any changes 

Inform physician of patient's condition and assist with emergency procedures if necessary

Take necessary action to prevent airway obstruction or shock 

Maintain records of each anesthetic administered  

Assist in moving patients to the recovery room or to their floor

Record patient's preoperative, operative, and postoperative condition; anesthetic and medication given; and related data 

Give postoperative care as directed

Nurse Anesthetists might also prepare reports relative to activities of other persons; take inventories; order supplies and requisition necessary equipment, repairs, or adjustments.

Some experienced and qualified Nurse Anesthetists may teach in nurse anesthesia programs, engage in research, or do administrative duties in anesthesiology.

Click here to see Nurse Anesthetists at work!   

The tools, equipment, and materials used may include:    

* Medications

* Electronic thermometer probes

* Intubation equipment

* Central venous pressure monitors

* Intravenous equipment

* Anesthesia machines & accessories

* Anesthetic ventilator

* Intra-arterial monitoring equipment

* Esophageal stethoscopes

* Blood pressure cuffs & stethoscopes

* Airways, both oral & nasal

* Electrocardiographic oscilloscope monitors

* Anesthetic agents, such as halothane & nitrous oxide


075.371-010 NURSE ANESTHETISTS administer intravenous, spinal, and other anesthetics to patients undergoing all types of medical and dental surgical procedures, and to obstetrical patients, and other hospital patients. They work under the supervision of a physician to render patients insensitive to pain.  

In addition to learning about these specialties, you may also find it helpful to explore the following Career Exploration Scripts:  



As a key member of the operating team, the Nurse Anesthetist combines professional nursing skills with the science of anesthesia.  The Nurse Anesthetist works under the direction of a physician or dentist.

Nurse Anesthetists work in sanitary, well lighted and well ventilated surroundings. They usually work in hospital operating rooms, but may work also in obstetric departments, with psychiatric patients, in the inhalation therapy department, in the emergency room, and dental offices. They may be exposed occasionally to hazards resulting from explosive or inflammable gases.  

Since the operating service must be covered 24 hours a day, Nurse Anesthetists are subject to being on call, and their hours may be irregular. In larger hospitals, they usually work 12-hour shifts, 3 days a week, covering days, afternoons, and evenings. In these hospitals, they periodically rotate shifts or work only a specific shift. In smaller hospitals (2 or 3 operating rooms), they usually work the day shift and cover emergencies on a rotating basis. Nurse Anesthetists may also work part-time and as free-lance Nurse Anesthetists.

Nurse Anesthetists are provided with all of their uniforms and equipment that are used in the operating room.

Nurse Anesthetists may belong to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists if they wish to be certified, and may belong to other professional organizations such as the American Nurses' Association. Those who belong to associations pay periodic dues.  

You Should Prefer:

  • Activities involving direct personal contact to help people
  • Activities of a scientific and technical nature

You Should Be Able To:

  • Make decisions based on measurable standards
  • Read and understand preoperative reports
  • Understand medical terminology and principles
  • Deal effectively with patients and surgical team members
  • Perform under stressful conditions such as surgery
  • See details in objects or drawings
  • Visualize flat drawings or pictures as solid objects
  • Perform mathematical computations quickly and accurately

Math Problem You Should Be Able to Solve:

If a patent's heart beats 9 times every 10 seconds, how many times does the patent's heart beat every minute?  

Reading Example You Should Be Able to Read and Comprehend:  

The most common side effect of aspirin and the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories is gastrointestinal irritation.  

Writing Example You Should Be Able to Produce:  

You should be able to write a report explaining the results from the study you did on the effects of different types of anesthesia.  

Thinking Skill You Should Be Able to Demonstrate:  

You should be able to decide the best type of anesthesia for a person with heart murmur.

The State of Michigan requires a license for this occupation. Click here for "Michigan Licensed Occupations," see Nurse Anesthetist for specific licensing information. 

As of February 2008, 109 Nurse Anesthesia programs and 1,800 clinical sites were available in the United States. There are five programs of Nurse Anesthesia in Michigan which meet and exceed the standards and guidelines set fourth by the Council on Accreditation (AANA) . All of these programs offer a Masters degree upon completion of the requirements. They include:  

Michigan State University Nurse Anesthesia Program College of Nursing
(28 months)
Master of Science in Nursing

A119 Life Sciences Building, East Lansing, MI 48824
Phone: (517) 355-8305

The University of Michigan-Flint/Hurley Medical Center
(24 months)
Master of Science in Anesthesia Program
Hurley Medical Center One Hurley Plaza - Dutcher Ctr., Flint, Mi, 48503
Phone: (810) 257-9264

University of Detroit Mercy Graduate Program of Nurse Anesthesiology 
Nurse Anesthesia College of Health Professions
(27 months)
MS in Anesthesia
4001 W. McNichols Detroit, MI   48221-3038
Phone: (313) 993-2454

Wayne State University Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
(24 months)
Master's of Science in Anesthesia
Suite 1600
259 Mack Avenue
Detroit, MI 48201
Phone: (313) 577-1716

Oakland University Beaumont Graduate Program of Nurse Anesthesia
(28 months)
Master's of Science in Nursing
3601 West 13 Mile Road
Royal Oak, MI, 48073
Phone: (248) 898-8075


NOTE:   A Bachelor's Degree (four years of study beyond High School) or a Master's Degree (five to six years of study beyond High School) may qualify a person for this occupation. 

The following education and preparation opportunities are helpful in preparing for occupations in this Career Exploration Script:  




There are no Vocational Education Programs related to this Career Exploration Script. 

Students should obtain the local Education & Training Opportunities  for information on what happens to students who successfully complete a program. This information is available at each high school or career/technical center.  



Programs in Nurse Anesthesia provide opportunities for Registered Nurses to gain specialized education in anesthesia care in various health care settings. Most programs are affiliated with local hospitals. Programs in Michigan exceed the standards and guidelines set forth by the Council on Accreditation of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists . All programs range from 24 to 36 month and offer a Master's degree upon completion.  

Courses may include:

Basic and Advanced Pharmacology



Regional Anesthesia

Research and Statistics




 Search for a College and/or Instructional Program


There are no Apprenticeships related to this Career Exploration Script. 


Please check the military web site at     


Nurses are a key part of the staff at military hospitals and clinics. Registered nurses direct nursing teams and give patients individual care to help them recover from illness or injury. 

What They Do  

Registered nurses in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Help physicians treat patients
  • Give injections of pain killers, antibiotics, and other medicines as prescribed by physicians
  • Change bandages and dressings
  • Assist physicians during surgery
  • Provide life support treatment for patients needing emergency care
  • Provide care for mental health patients' condition
  • Keep records of patients' condition
  • Supervise practical nurses, nurse aides, and other support personnel  

Helpful Attributes   

Helpful attributes include:

  • Desire to help others
  • Ability to express ideas clearly and concisely
  • Self-confidence and the ability to remain calm under pressure  

Civilian Counterparts   

Civilian registered nurses work in hospitals, clinics, and private medical facilities. They also work for public health agencies, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers. Civilian registered nurses perform duties similar to those performed in the military. They often specialize and may be known as public health nurses, nurse practitioners, or general duty nurses. 

Special Requirements   

Graduation from an accredited school of nursing and a license to practice nursing are required to enter this occupation. 

Training Provided   

Job training consists of classroom instruction.  Training length varies depending on specialty.  Course content typically includes:

  • Practices and principles of military nursing
  • Care of emotionally disturbed patients
  • Health care for children
  • Nursing techniques
  • Anesthesia, respiratory therapy, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation  

Work Environment    

Registered nurses work in hospitals and clinics.  Some work in sick bays aboard ships or in mobile field hospitals. Others work in airplanes that transfer patients to medical centers.  


Each year, the need for registered nurses is great due to changes in personnel and field demands. Positions for registered nurses in the Coast Guard are filled by U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Officers . Depending on the prior experience that nurses bring with them to the military, their job assignments may vary. After job training, inexperienced nurses work under close supervision. Experienced nurses normally work under less supervision.  In time, nurses may become nurse supervisors. Eventually, they may become directors of nursing in hospitals or advance to senior health service management positions.  

E-Learning Courses and Programs   


Exposure to the health care field can be obtained by either volunteer or paid work in health care facilities. Working as a registered nurse in the operating room or similar setting will provide experience. Postsecondary programs in registered nursing may offer opportunities for experience. Most branches of the military provide experience for registered nurses in this specialization.  

School-to-Work opportunities include:  

Informal apprenticeships 


Job shadowing experiences 

Touring a local Nurse Anesthetist employer 


Volunteer work with a Nurse Anesthetist employer 

Community service work with an agency 

Nurse Anesthetists may enter this occupation by direct application to employers such as hospitals and civil service agencies. Professional journals and newspaper want ads may be helpful in finding positions. Nursing registries also offer help to registered nurses and other nursing professionals. In addition, you should access and search the Internet's on-line employment services sites such as:


Nurse Anesthetist Jobs and Careers

All health jobs

Michigan Jobs & Career Portal

Michigan Talent Bank

Indeed | one search. all jobs.



CareerBuilder - Doctors & Nurses


You should also enter an electronic resume on these on-line services.


Earnings for Nurse Anesthetists vary by geographic location, employer, education, experience, and area of responsibility. Generally, those in clinical practice receive higher wages than Nurses in teaching. Salaries of Nurse Anesthetists who are certified are equal to or higher than salaries of top nursing personnel. Highly experienced Nurse Anesthetists who work on a fee-for-service basis earn the highest salaries. 

Nationally, in early 2009, annual salaries of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists employed in hospitals and related institutions were between $124,200 and $169,900, with an average of $146,000. Chief Nurse Anesthetist also employed in hospitals and related institutions earned between $139,700 and $185,000, with an average of $161,600 per year. The median yearly earnings of "all" workers in the U.S. were $37,544 in 2008.   

In 2009, certified registered Nurse Anesthetists employed by the Veterans Administration (VA) earned from $102,416 to $143,500 a year. Supervisors earned more. The salaries of these federal government workers may be higher in some urban areas.  

In Michigan hospitals, the annual middle range salaries (late 2008) of Nurse Anesthetists were:  


Middle Range


$153,587 - $157,477


$153,587 - $157,477


$150,114 - $163,405

Most Nurse Anesthetists receive paid vacations and holidays; sick leave; retirement benefits; and life and hospitalization insurance at reduced cost. Self-employed Anesthetists pay for these benefits themselves. Most full-time Anesthetists are usually paid time and a half for overtime or given compensatory time off. Others may receive added fees for being on call and for providing anesthesia service.

A qualified Nurse Anesthetist may advance to Chief Nurse Anesthetist. Promotion may depend on academic background, experience, skill, size of hospital, and number and types of procedures performed.


Nationally, there were about 39,000 professionally qualified Nurse Anesthetists in early 2009. The demand for Nurse Anesthetists arises from hospital operations (both inpatient and outpatient); operations in free-standing ambulatory surgery centers and doctors' offices; obstetric deliveries; pre- and post-operative anesthesia evaluation; supply of anesthesiologists; and other factors. As a result of this demand, there is a shortage of Nurse Anesthetists in some regions of the United States. Male nurses find this occupation a particularly attractive field of specialization, and a larger percentage of men enter this specialty than enter other fields of nursing. Approximately forty-four percent of Nurse Anesthetists are males, compared with 10% in the nursing profession as a whole.  

There were approximately 1,850 Practicing Nurse Anesthetists who were licensed in Michigan in early 2009.

Most are employed by hospitals in operating rooms, recovery rooms, respiratory care coronary care, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and other special units. Others are employed by health service groups. A few free-lance or work in dentist's offices, clinics, or schools with nurse anesthesia programs. 

Although little new hospital construction is expected during the next five years, some existing facilities are being modernized and expanded to provide for the growing number of patients and the broader scope of surgery and health care. On this basis, it is expected that the need for Nurse Anesthetists will grow in Michigan. Furthermore, as freestanding surgery centers are built to compete with hospitals in Michigan, some additional job openings for Nurse Anesthetists in these centers will occur.

Employment in this occupation is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2016.  Openings will vary by geographical area, with the greatest number occurring in metropolitan areas. There is an acute shortage of Nurse Anesthetists in Michigan.


Michigan Department of Community Health
Board of Nursing
P.O. Box 30193
Lansing, MI 48909
(517) 335-0918

Michigan Association of Nurse Anesthetists
3300 Washtenaw Ave., Suite 220
Ann Arbor, MI  48104-4200
(800) 437-6577
(734) 477-0328


Council on Certification of Nurse Anesthetists
222 S. Prospect Avenue
Park Ridge, IL 60068
(847) 692-7050


American Association of Critical Care Nurses
101 Columbia
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
(949) 362-2000 or (800) 899-2226

American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
222 S. Prospect Avenue
Park Ridge, IL 60068
(847) 692-7050


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