Nurse anesthetists hold positions in a broad spectrum of health care settings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for these specialists are projected to grow by 31 percent in coming years. In Los Angeles, certified nurse anesthetist earn an average annual salary nearing $180,000. Those that prosper in this field consider the vocation beneficial in many ways.
“In Los Angeles, we serve a large population that is diverse in age, culture and health issues. So as a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), you have the freedom to choose the area that is best suited for your expertise,” said Elizabeth Corte, a CRNA at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center. “We’re needed in hospitals, ambulatory care facilities, rehabilitation centers, doctors’ offices, fertility clinics and pain management accommodations.”
Corte said recent changes in health care laws have had a significant effect on health care delivery.
“The impact of health care reform has been pivotal. It has allowed new opportunities for the CRNA to be an even more important contributor to the team,” said Corte, who earned her Master of Science degree in nursing at California State University, Fullerton. “At Kaiser Permanente, anesthesiologist and CRNAs work together with the patient.”
What defines an effective CRNA?
“A good CRNA must be able to administer a safe anesthetic while providing comfort in a professional manner. It is important to remain calm, think clearly in emergency situations and have a passion for helping others.”
What changes do you expect to see by 2024?
“Due to the aging population, advance practice nursing will be in high demand.”
How does one prepare for a career in this challenging vocation?
“It is important to attend professional conferences, stay up-to-date on the latest research and new modalities in anesthesia, and remain a contributing member in the anesthesia community.”
What is your advice to up-and-coming nurse anesthetists?
“I recommend that anyone considering this field to work with high-acuity patients early on and shadow a CRNA to make certain this is what you want to do. If so, attend a training program with rigorous anesthesia requirements, such as Kaiser Permanente’s School of Anesthesia.”
Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to Examiner.com.