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Anesthesiology/Career path change and job outlook for CRNAs

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Question
Hello Mike,

I'm in my last semester of college majoring in biology. All these years I have been following a pre-dental track but now I'm having second thoughts about dental school. Last year I found out about mid-level anesthesia providers and I started shadowing a few CRNAs and AAs to learn more about it. I really like the profession and I'm considering changing my career path. Since I just turned 22 years old, I have decided that going the CRNA route would be a better choice for me. However, it will take me at least 7 years to take the pre-reqs, getting my BSN, working 2 years ICU, and then 3 years of CRNA school. My concern is what do you think will be the outlook for CRNAs by the time I graduate in 2021? I keep reading about a surplus of CRNAs in the near future, reduction in anesthesia reimbursements, and on the other hand I see that in the next few years a lot of CRNAs will retire. I like both dentistry and Anesthesia, just leaning a little bit more towards anesthesia after my recent shadowing experience. What would be your advice on this situation since I like both professions? Would it be a smart move to do? I'm really having a hard time making this decision. I would like to make a career in a field with good job prospects. I will be grateful for any help you can provide.

Byron

Answer
Hello Byron,

Sorry for the late reply, lots of being on call lately!

First you should know CRNAs are not "mid-level" practitioners. We provide equal services as our physician counterparts and all current research shows this to be the case. The term "mid level" was created by the physician lobby in order to degrade and demean Advance practice Nurses as a whole. It has everything to do with protectionism and money and nothing to do with reality.

AAs however are not able to provide the same services as CRNA or Anesthesiologists. They are, as their very titles elucidate, "assistants" to physicians. This both limits opportunity and practice significantly and those who choose to go that route have to be willing to accept that.

As for the outlook for Nurse Anesthetists as a profession the future us bright. CRNAs offer equal services as physicians at a significantly decreased cost to society and increase access to care as we are trained to work autonomously in all settings without physician oversight. With the changing market favoring cost effective high quality care CRNAs and Advanced Practice Nurses as a whole will only become more commonplace.

However at the end of the day you have to do what you really want to because a decade from now you can be a dentist or a CRNA but that decade will pass regardless. I absolutely love my profession but I would not want anyone going into it as a "second choice" or a backup plan. Also you have to know you really want to be an RN. This is important because you may never get into anesthesia school for any number of reasons and that would be your profession. So my advice is be 100% sure and then follow that.

Hope this helps!  

Anesthesiology

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Mike MacKinnon MSN FNP-C CRNA

Expertise

I am a former Trauma Flight RN now a Family Nurse Practitioner and a Nurse Anesthetist (CRNAs). I can help answer questions on the CRNA profession and clinical anesthesia. I work full time as an independent practice CRNA and have a special interest in regional anesthesia, particularly peripheral nerve blocks. I also teach ultrasound regional anesthesia and lecture all over the country. If I do not know the answer, I will find it for you.

Experience

I am a Family Nurse Practitioner and a Nurse Anesthetist who works as an independent/autonomous practitioner. There are often questions about my profession and I would like to offer the service of an actual CRNA. If you did not know, there are about 40000 of us which equates to 50% of the anesthesia providers in the USA today. I also lecture and teach ultrasound regional anesthesia all over the country.

Organizations
AANA (American Association of Nurse Anesthetists)
IARS (International Anesthesia Research Society) AANP (American Association of Nurse Practitioners)

Publications
Air Medical Transport Journal
OutPatient Surgery Magazine


Education/Credentials
Bachelors of Science in Nursing
Masters in Nursing
Family Nurse Practitioner
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)


Awards and Honors
Excellence in anesthesia education award

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