California Nurse Anesthesia Careers

Nurse anesthesia is an advanced practice field that requires an advanced degree, certification, and a considerable amount of experience in the field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals in this field, called “nurse anesthetists,” provide anesthesia and related care before, during, and after surgical, therapeutic, diagnostic, and obstetrical procedures. They administer general, regional or local anesthesia to patients, and adjust anesthesia and monitor vital signs throughout procedures. Some nurse anesthetists provide pain management and select emergency services.

Nurse anesthetists work in a variety of environments, but the industries with the highest employment levels include offices of physicians, hospitals, offices of other health practitioners, outpatient care centers, and federal executive branch (OES designation). Nurse anesthetists work in all states across the U.S. However, one of the largest populations can be found in the State of California.

Nurse Anesthesia Education and Training Programs

To become a nurse anesthetist, you must first obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing. While this is the preferred degree for advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) programs, some programs will accept a bachelor’s degree in a related health science field. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in nursing, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to become a registered nurse (RN).

The next step is to gain experience as a registered nurse (RN) and enroll in an accredited graduate nurse anesthesia program or an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) program with a nurse anesthesia focus/concentration. According to one of the nation’s top academic medical centers, which offers a Master of Nurse Anesthesia, a comprehensive curriculum should cover:

    •    Basic and Advanced Anesthesia Sciences
    •    Anesthesia Management and Education Studies
    •    Investigational Theory

It should also cover a wide variety of advanced clinical experiences and courses. An accredited program may include courses such as:

    •    Advanced Pathophysiology
    •    Advanced Pharmacology
    •    Cardiac, Vascular, Thoracic Anesthesia
    •    Clinical Anesthesia
    •    Medical Physiology
    •    Neurosciences and EENT Anesthesia
    •    Physics for Anesthesia
    •    Practice of Nurse Anesthesia
    •    Regional Anesthesia/Pain Medicine

Students will also complete a diverse series of clinical experiences (internships) from cardiovascular to pediatrics to neurology. A typical nurse anesthetist program takes no less than 3 years to complete.

Once you have completed the program, you will become eligible to sit for the National Certification Examination (NCE), which is offered through the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA).

In California, a "nurse anesthetist" is a person who is a registered nurse (RN) licensed by the State of California Board of Registered Nursing and who has met standards for certification from the Board. "Accredited Program" means a program for the education of nurse anesthetists, which has received approval from the Board. These programs are have been approved by the Council on Certification of Nurse Anesthesia Programs (COA).

Nurse Anesthesia Schools and Training Programs in California

California is home to several schools that offer accredited nurse anesthesia programs that have been approved by the Board. They include:

    •    California State University Fullerton, Kaiser Permanente School of Anesthesia, Pasadena, CA
    •    Loma Linda University School of Nursing, Loma Linda, CA
    •    National University Fresno Nurse Anesthesia Program, Fresno, CA
    •    Samuel Merritt University, Oakland, CA
    •    University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA

The following programs were not listed with the Board, but they have been approved by several other organizations that evaluate nurse anesthesia programs nationwide. They include:

    •    National University Fresno Nurse Anesthesia Program, Fresno, CA
    •    Pasadena City College, Pasadena, CA

Employment and Earnings Outlook for California Nurse Anesthetists

The U.S. is home to 35,200 nurse anesthetists. Nearly 1,000 reside in the State of California. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 25% increase in employment for nurse anesthetists overall for the 2012-2022 decade. This means, the industry will add 8,700 new jobs in the coming years.

California-based nurse anesthetists earn an average of $154,900 per year, which is one of the nation’s highest salaries for this profession. Nationwide, the top earners in this field average $176,060 per year, and the lowest earners average $105,810. The average salary for nurse anesthetists nationwide is $148,160 per year.

While the industries with the highest employment levels pay well (average $139,280 to $176,740), nurse anesthetists that work in dentists offices earn the highest average salary of them all at $189,330 per year.