What does a CRNA do exactly?

Students SRNA


I am currently an undergraduate working towards my BSN. I plan on going to school again after 1-2 years experience as a RN - to either a NP program or a CRNA program. I know with the NP program you pick a specialty which will often define what you will be doing as a practicing NP. I have been reading a lot about getting into a CRNA program, but have yet to find out what being a CRNA actually entails. I know it involves anesthesia, obviously, but what would the day in the life of a CRNA be like?

Any response would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


67 Posts

I know what a CRNA does on paper (anyone can read that by typing in "CRNA" into google), but I am sure many nurses will agree that the reality of being in any health care profession entails much more than expected and is much more intense than what one can simply read about the job. I really am looking for some insight on what the day in the life of a CRNA is like.


150 Posts

Specializes in ICU.

It's very frustrating to see your posts below. This one saying you plan to "work 1-2 years before applying to CRNA school." And then here, your asking what a CRNA does ?!?!?! Yet another undergrad whose in this career for the money.

I'll sum it up for you since you obviously don't know.....people (including myself) have been working as a nurse for years trying to get certs, get experience, take GRE's, and fully prepare for the coursework that school invovles. It's not a matter of competition with people fresh out of school, it's just boils down to the same thing that most people are in for the money.


67 Posts

I am not in this for the money - I know how sensitive that issue is to people in this field. I am a new nursing student so I have a lot to learn and I want to expand my education as much as possible throughout my nursing career.


867 Posts

Specializes in CRNA.

Every day is different, but in general I arrive to the OR between 6-6:30, even though my time isn't 'counted' until 7 to make sure I'm ready for the day. The group I'm with does keep track of hours, but it really doesn't make any difference because I'm paid a salary. If there's something with the procedure or patient that I need to brush up on it gives me time. Otherwise I get ready and chat with the other CRNAs. It's about the only time we see each other because the rest of the day we're each in our own rooms. About the first thing I'll do is go meet with my first patient. Often they are nervous and it helps relax them if they meet me and I develop some rapport with them. Around 7:30 the first case goes to the room, and I either induce general anesthesia, place a regional block, or start sedation. Most of the time I am pretty quiet and just concentrate on what's happening with the patient and the case. sometimes the surgeon likes to chat if things are going as expected. Once the case is finished it's emerge the patient as quickly as possible while maintaining safety. Get to recovery room, give report. Then go see the next patient, assess them and get consent, back to the OR to clean up, and set up for the next case. From the time one patient leaves the OR, and the next comes in is about 15 minutes so you really need to move quickly. I draw up a label my drugs for the next case during the middle of the first case otherwise you are behind. Do that throughout the day, usually get 20 minutes for lunch. We don't do the coffee break thing, but some places will have someone get you out of a 10 minute break morning and afternoon.

I'm telling about this part of the career, because I've work with student's who seemed surprised that:1. there is no set time that you can leave, depends on the OR schedule, it's not shift work, 2. you have to move quickly while remaining completly accurate in what you are doing, 3. it's hard work with few breaks during the day, you will leave tired. 4. you are fairly isolated while you work, I'm the only CRNA in the room and we are independent so I don't see a MDA unless I call one in. 5. your work schedule will effect your entire family, maybe I'll be done to go to the soccor game, or maybe I won't. Cell phones are life savers! 6. you need to be good at getting along with people, because surgeons, patients, etc can be difficult and you need to get done what is needed while hopefully keeping things on an even keel.

I find it very rewarding because every anesthetic is different, and it's a challenge to keep up with the new developments in the field. Like many CRNAs I enjoy the technical skills of intubation, and regional blocks, etc. You need to not require a lot of reassurance and be comfortable thinking for yourself.

Specializes in Cardiac.

But, why do people think 1-2 years of experience is enough for an APN? You don't know squat after 1 year of nursing!


135 Posts

Specializes in CVICU, Transplant ICU, CCRN.

As I said before, I know what a CRNA does on paper - the job description. Thank you.

I'm sure that 95% of CRNA went into the field with money on the mind first, then they grew to love it. Don't let anyone make you feel bad for being driven. I chose not to be a nursing assistant because the work is hard and the money sucks. I am no different the doctor who chooses to be a dentist or anesthesiologist instead of a family doctor due to the pay scale. It is important to think about what you want for your family. After 15 years as a nurse, I made the decision that I was tired and needed a change. I always wanted to be a crna. My sister is one and I decided to go after my dream. After years of trying to have a baby, God blessed me with a daughter who is now 2 years old. She is the drive behing me pursuing this dream. I want to be able to bless her with the best possible life . I wish you the best. NP or CRNA, go for it.


87 Posts

Specializes in icu/er ccrn.

the best answer i can give being that i am not a crna myself is what i actually had to do myself, and that is spend some time on the coat tail of a crna. follow one of them around for about 2-3 days when you are off. now being that you are not out of school as of yet, i would think it's best that you only concentrate on graduating from your program "while making the best grades possible". while i have tried to place myself to get into a anesthesia program someday "hopefully" i really never understood the dynamics of what they do until i saw it with my own eyes, nothing is like seeing with your own eyes...goodluck.


67 Posts

traumaRUs and loveanesthesia:

Thanks so much for your responses. There is a lot I don't know about nursing, and I am just trying to figure out what I think I might be interested in. I know that the more experience I get the clearer that will become. I had no idea how broad the career of a nurse can be - there are so many different avenues you can take and I am trying to discover the one that is best suited for me.

I just want to say that the reason I wanted to become a nurse was mainly a result of my personal experience. When I go to a hosipital for an appointment I usually end up being seen by a nurse practitioner. I never knew that until I actually was seen by my doctor and it was a completely different experience. I love the approach nurses have with their patients and the rapport they develop while under so much stress, which is what appealed to me. I am new to the world of nursing and am just trying to learn as much as I can at the stage I am at, but my career goals are completely sincere.


67 Posts

Thanks everyone for your positive responses

Trauma Columnist

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN

88 Articles; 21,246 Posts

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

I hope we can help. I have shadowed a couple of CRNAs because I'm also a pre-hospital RN who has to have x-amt of intubations/year. When I went to the OR, there were patient and impatient CRNAs - just like here. Most seemed like they enjoyed their jobs.

I think that after you get out of school, you should try for as much varied experience as you can get prior to making a decision about grad school. Its a big decision and good luck.


9 Posts

I think that there is a sticky concerning this issue. The OP should look for it or search 'day in the life of a CRNA'.

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