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Andrea Robertson

Timm Hackett

English 1200

8 February 2007

                Career Exploration Paper: Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

       By attending rigorous courses and informative lectures, college allows students to gain

the knowledge necessary to succeed in a chosen field of study. It is college that opens a student’s

mind to a career about which she feels passionate, such as nurse anesthesia. This desire to

become a part of the nursing field may come from the wish to help others or simply a family

tradition. Whatever the reason, any student who wishes to become a Certified Registered Nurse

Anesthetist will find that East Carolina University is capable of fulfilling both the initial nursing

school and the graduate school, where she will participate in an anesthesia program. This paper’s

purpose is to discuss the nursing school offered by East Carolina University, as well as explore

the career of the nurse anesthetist.                                                                    Comment [JG1]: Great introduction

       The first thing a new student must consider is how she will finance her many years of

education. For a prospective nurse, several scholarships exist that can help fund her schooling.

From the Nurse Educators of Tomorrow Program to the North Carolina Nurse Scholarship

Program, many organizations are more than willing to give assistance to dedicated nursing

students. The government also provides loans with low interest rates in order to suppress the

burden of expenses (Graduate). With many opportunities to gain money through scholarship

programs and loans, a student will find it easy to begin her education.                                 Comment [JG2]: Good information

       A student who hopes to become a nurse would first have to complete the “required pre-

requisite course work in social, behavioral, and natural sciences; and in the humanities” before
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applying to become a declared nursing major at East Carolina University. To gain admission into

the nursing program, a minimum of a 2.5 cumulative GPA is required (Bachelor). Because the             Formatted: Highlight

nursing school is so competitive, allowing only one hundred and thirty applicants to enter, the

admissions board also considers a ranking system. The system uses the GPA to calculate the

student’s initial ranking, allotting extra points to those who never grade replaced any courses and

two points to those whose education began as a freshman or one point to those who are transfer

students at East Carolina University (ECU Ranking). After acceptance into the university’s             Formatted: Highlight

nursing school, classes in clinical nursing that show that the student is competent in providing

care for others, in teamwork, in knowledge of nursing and natural sciences, and many other skills

must be completed (Bachelor). By finishing the undergraduate program in nursing and wanting            Comment [JG3]: Passive Voice
                                                                                                       Formatted: Highlight
to continue one’s education in nurse anesthesia, East Carolina University would remain a prime


          To become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist a master’s degree in nursing, offered

by five universities in North Carolina, is required (Sopko). However, once a student graduates

nursing school as a registered nurse, “at least one year of critical care experience” is required      Formatted: Highlight

before advancing to a master’s program, says Shirley Sopko, a nurse anesthetist of eleven years

(Sopko). In addition to work experience, a person interested in becoming a nurse anesthetist must

take one of two tests: “the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) [with a score of] 850 or higher          Formatted: Highlight

or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) [with a score of] 386 or higher” within five years before           Comment [JG4]: Watch placing things into
                                                                                                       parenthesis that aren’t citations.

applying to graduate school (MSN). Acceptance into the anesthesia program also depends on if           Formatted: Highlight
                                                                                                       Formatted: Highlight

the student had a GPA of at least a 3.0 during nursing school (Nurse Anesthesia). Once a student       Formatted: Highlight
                                                                                                       Formatted: Highlight
is successfully enrolled into the anesthesia program, which has a “typical length of…around 28         Comment [JG5]: Passive voice
                                                                                                       Formatted: Highlight
months”, a student will spend at least 400 hours providing anesthesia “to patients undergoing          Formatted: Highlight
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various types of surgery” (Sopko; Shurr). Students must also complete a minimum of 200 hours

in the classroom learning the ins-and-outs of anesthesia and its administration, how the body will

react to the anesthesia, and the pharmacology of anesthesia (Shurr). After graduation, a student

must take a national certification examination to ensure that she is adequately prepared to take on

the responsibilities of a nurse anesthetist, (Education). After many years of education, a student

is finally able to start her new career as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.

       By looking at the job market, you see that “the nurse anesthesia specialty is facing an        Comment [EC6]: No second person in academic

ongoing shortage of qualified faculty,” which allows a newly certified nurse anesthetist to easily

gain employment (Lupien). Nurse anesthetists are required to work with doctors,

anesthesiologists, other nurse anesthetists, registered nurses, and most importantly patients

(Certified). Primarily, nurse anesthetists belong to an anesthesia care team, “involving CRNAs

and anesthesiologists providing services together” (Alves). Wherever anesthesia is present, a

nurse anesthetist must be fully prepared to dedicate herself to her patients completely.              Comment [JG7]: Great use of three sources in
                                                                                                      one paragraph.

       The nature of the work of a nurse anesthetist is one of much dedication and potentially

stressful situations. Julie Lowery, the active president of the North Carolina Association of Nurse

Anesthetists, reports, “I work 40 hours a week doing clinical anesthesia. The day starts early – I

am in the [operating room] by 6:45 A.M.” A nurse anesthetist will be assigned to one operating

room for the whole day and be responsible for any surgeries scheduled in that room. The number

of surgeries depends on the length of the procedure,procedure; sometimes there will be only one

case for the entire day (Lowery). To begin the day, a nurse anesthetist is responsible for

preparing the operating room before the surgery and for providing preoperative care

(O’Sullivan). After preparing the patient for surgery, the nurse anesthetist stays with her

throughout the surgery, giving various anesthetics, monitoring vital signs, checking fluid, and
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keeping the patient safe. Once the surgery is over, the nurse anesthetist is responsible for caring

for the patient until she feels that the patient is stable enough to turn over the care to the recovery

room nurse (Lowery). Before returning to the operation room for the next surgery, the nurse

anesthetist is required to fill out the appropriate paperwork on the previous patient (Alves). With

such responsibilities, some nurse anesthetists complain about extreme stress; however, steps to

ease theses stresses take place.

        In an attempt to make the stressful work of a nurse anesthetist more desired, salaries have

dramatically increased, reaching $180,000 a year, according to a reports a survey completed by

Allied Consulting (Demand). Many nurse anesthetists practice internalization, a way of

maintaining composure and just getting over it. This method does not work very well for long-

term stress,stress; so many people look to hobbies or spirituality to release the stress from a day’s

work (Perry). Although a great deal of pressure is placed on a nurse anesthetist, Sopko feels that        Comment [JG8]: Passive voice

being a nurse anesthetist “is very rewarding.” However, if a nurse anesthetist feels that she is

involved in a setting that is too stressful for her, this field is so broad she can easily find

employment in another area of anesthesia.

        Since the work of a nurse anesthetist encompasses every field in which the administration

of anesthesia is involved, her job spectrum is very extensive. Lowery states, “CRNAs work in all

types of surgical settings where anesthesia is delivered,” consisting of largeof large hospitals,

small community hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, plastic surgeons’ offices, podiatrist

offices, and oral surgeons/dental offices (Lowery). If a person decides she does not want to work

with high risk patients, such as cardiac patients, she can work in an oral surgeon’s office where

she will prepare patients to have their wisdom teeth extracted. A nurse anesthetist may also be

interested in obstetrics where she would provide “analgesia during labor, after delivery, and
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during the performance of caesarean sections” (Henry). The options of what a nurse anesthetist

can do seem to be countless; however, certain issues will follow a nurse wherever she goes.

       No matter what, a nurse should respect a patient by following the rights expressed in the

Patient’s Bill of Rights. This promises a patient privacy and respect of her wishes. The rights

listed in this bill absolutely prohibit disclosing any medical information without the consent of

the patient herself. A patient also has the right to refuse any kind of medical treatment or life

support – a patient who wishes to die has the right to do so with dignity (Patient’s). Issues arise

with this, because no matter what a nurse feels is right, she must always respect what the patient

wants. Another issue that may cause complications for a nurse anesthetist is that “anesthesia is a

very political arena and there can be a lot of competition between CRNAs and

anesthesiologists.” Due to remaining subservient to the anesthesiologist, some nurse anesthetists

return to school to become anesthesiologists themselves, in an attempt to end this competition

(Lowery). A nurse anesthetist may feel that by gaining her PhD she will no long have her

methods of treatment questioned. Because issues and questions will always exist in medicine, it

is the responsibility of the nurse anesthetist to learn new information about this field so the

patient will always know what the best option for her will be.

       In order for a nurse anesthetist to remain competent in her field, she must always be

searching for new information about anesthesia. To remain a nurse anesthetist, one must “obtain

a minimum of 40 hours of approved continuing education every two years.” It is also required

that a nurse anesthetist actually practice medicine and renew any certifications that may expire

(Certified). If one fails to comply with these rules, it would be possible to lose your certification

as a registered nurse anesthetist.
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       Organizations exist that are specifically for those who are Certified Nurse Anesthetists or

those who hope to become nurse anesthetists. The most dominant organization is the American

Association of Nurse Anesthetists; membership to this group is encouraged by East Carolina            Comment [JG9]: Passive

University upon entering graduate school (Nurse Anesthetist). Each state also has its own

organization, such as the North Carolina Association of Nurse Anesthetists, in which both Julie

Lowery and Shirley Sopko hold officer positions.

       Although nurse anesthesia is a long road, which requires much dedication, the result of

helping better other people’s lives is worth it. There is no better feeling than waking up in the

morning happy about the path that you have chosen for your life. The education that you must

gain is a mere stepping-stone into a career that will forever bring you joy. The need for nurse

anesthetists will never end; someone will always need surgery and with surgery comes the need

to provide a pain-free experience.

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                                         Works Cited

Alves, Steve L. "A Study of Occupational Stress, Scope of Practice, and Collaboration in Nurse

       Anesthetists Practicing in Anesthesia Care Team Settings.” AANA Journal

       73.6 (2005): 443-452. ProQuest Nursing & Allied Health Source. ProQuest Joyner

       Library, Greenville, NC. 18 Jan. 2007. <>.

"Bachelor of Science in Nursing." East Carolina School of Nursing. 28 Jan. 2007. East

       Carolina University. 29 Jan. 2007. <>.

“Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists at a Glance.” American Association of Nurse

       Anesthetist. Jan 2007. 24 Jan. 2007. <>.

ECU School of Nursing Admission Ranking Formula. Greenville: East Carolina University,


"Education of Nurse Anesthetists in the United States – At a Glance." American

       Association of Nurse Anesthetists. 7 July 2005. 24 Jan. 2007.


"Demand drives salaries higher. " Nursing Management 33.7 (2002): 7. ABI/INFORM

       Global. ProQuest. Joyner Library, Greenville, NC. 18 Jan. 2007.


"Graduate - Financial Aid." East Carolina School of Nursing. 5 Feb. 2007. East Carolina

       University. 5 Feb. 2007. <>.

Henry, Beverly, and McAuliffe, Maura. "Practice and Education of Nurse

       Anaesthetists." World Health Organization. Bulletin of the World Health Organization

       77.3 (1999): 267. ProQuest Nursing & Allied Health Source. ProQuest Joyner Library,

       Greenville, NC. 18 Jan. 2007. <>.
                                                                                    Robertson 8

Lowey, Julie, CRNA, MSN. E-mail interview. 1 Feb. 2007.

Lupien, Alfred E., and Marlene M. Rosenkoetter. "Nurse Anesthetists as University

        Faculty." AANA Journal 74.5 (2006): 366-372. Nursing & Allied Health Collection

       : Comprehensive. Joyner Library, Greenville, NC. 24 Jan. 2007.


"MSN Admission." East Carolina School of Nursing. 28 Jan. 2007. East Carolina University. 1

       Feb. 2007. <>.

"Nurse Anesthesia Program." East Carolina School of Nursing. 28 Jan. 2007. East

       Carolina University. 1 Feb. 2007.


O'Sullivan, Cormac T., and Edward S. Thompson. "Economics and the Education of Nurse

        Anesthetists: Part 1." AANA Journal 72.5 (2004): 329-332. Nursing & Allied Health

        Collection: Comprehensive. Joyner Library, Greenville, NC. 24 Jan. 2007.


"Patient's Bill of Rights." Dal Libraries. 11 Dec. 2003. 6 Feb. 2007.


Perry, Tristan Robert. "The Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist: Occupational

       Responsibilities, Perceived Stressors, Coping Strategies, and Work Relationships.”

       AANA Journal 73.5 (2005): 351-356. ProQuest Nursing & Allied Health

       Source. ProQuest Joyner Library, Greenville, NC. 18 Jan.

       2007. <>.
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Shurr, Agnes. "The Nurse Anesthetist's Education." The American Journal of Nursing 61 (1961):

       63-65. JSTOR. Joyner Library, Greenville, NC. 24 Jan. 2006.


Sopko, Shirley, CRNA, MSN. E-mail interview. 24 Jan. 2007.

Miss Robertson,

Outstanding first paper. Great research and well organized. Watch the passive voice and a few

comma splices. Well done.

Grade: A

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