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Skills to Become a Nurse Anesthetist

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Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are medical professionals trained at a master's degree level who provide anesthesia or medicine that causes loss of sensation during procedures and surgeries. Also in the job description is explaining the surgery process to patients and monitoring them during surgery and recovery from anesthesia. To become a nurse anesthetist, you need to have certain skills to succeed in the profession.

Communication Skills

Nurse anesthetists constantly work with all different kinds of people—from other nurses to physicians to patients who are stable/unstable. Whether they're working with physicians during surgery or explaining procedures to patients, nurse anesthetists must be good communicators, remaining clear, confident and patient even during stressful situations. Nurse anesthetists need to know medical terminology and be able use it correctly, as one mistake could be lethal.

Decision-Making Skills

Decision-making skills are essential skills for a nurse anesthetist to possess, especially because anesthesiologists aren't always working side-by-side in the operating room with CRNAs. For example, if a nurse anesthetist is monitoring a patient during surgery—and the patient goes into shock—the nurse must quickly stabilize the patient. Nurse anesthetists also need to know hundreds of different kinds of medications and their effects on people, especially if their patient may be allergic to certain medicines. Usually, patients discuss what they're allergic to with nurse anesthetists prior to surgery; however, sometimes certain medication allergies are unknown to the patient. That's why CRNAs must be prepared to quickly counteract any medication reactions and keep the patient stable if something goes wrong.

Teamwork and Leadership Skills

Nurse anesthetists may often work in teams, alongside of physicians, anesthesiologists, nurses, physician assistants and technicians. This requires strong teamwork skills, as each member of the surgery team is responsible for different stages of the operation. Nurse anesthetists must work with other nurse anesthetists in improving patient relations and providing the best pre-operational and post-operational care. Nurse anesthetists should also have strong leadership skills, especially when supervising other medical professionals. Because of their extensive training, nurse anesthetists are often looked to for answers to difficult questions, especially when the head anesthesiologist isn't available. It is essential for nurse anesthetists to be self-directed, as not knowing exactly what to do in an emergency or even in a simple routine procedure can potentially harm or take the life of their patient.

Nursing Skills

During nursing school, nurse anesthetists learn the same basic four-year curriculum as registered nurses, except their education continues into graduate school. Here, nurse anesthetists take advanced nursing courses such as pathophysiology in anesthesia, professional aspects of practice and pharmacology. These courses prepare nurse anesthetists to respond to any kind of services they need to provide to patients or other health-care professionals—whether it be counseling the patient on post-surgical care or waking patients up from surgery. Nurse anesthetists must be caring and friendly. It's also essential that they control their emotions, given that they're constantly around people who need their support.


Amanda Williams has been writing since 2009 on various writing websites and blogging since 2003. She enjoys writing about health, medicine, education and home and garden topics. Williams earned a Bachelor of Science in biology at East Stroudsburg University in May 2013. Williams is also a certified emergency medical technician.

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