What Is a Nurse Anaesthetist? And How to Become One

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Read this guide to discover nurse anaesthetist schooling requirements, how nurse anaesthetist programmes at the doctoral level are changing, nurse anaesthetist salary, and how you can become a CRNA.

[Featured Image] A nurse anesthetist cares for a patient.

Nurse anaesthetists are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who administer anaesthesia to patients before, during, and after surgical procedures. 

Typically employed in various health care environments, such as hospitals, ambulatory surgery centres, and private practice offices, nurse anaesthetists work alongside nurses, surgeons, and physicians to ensure their patients receive the best care possible. 

If you're interested in a high-paying, high-growth nursing position, consider a career as a nurse anaesthetist. In this article, you'll learn more about what nurse anaesthetists do, how much they earn, and their job outlook in the coming years. You'll also discover what you need to do to join the field and explore some cost-effective online courses that will introduce you to key concepts to excel in the job. 

Nurse anaesthetists explained

Nurse anaesthetists administer anaesthesia to patients, monitor their vital signs, and help manage their pain and post-surgery recovery. Nurse anaesthetists are highly-skilled medical professionals with many important responsibilities, command a significantly higher than average salary, and are much sought after in the medical field. 

What does a nurse anaesthetist do?

A nurse anaesthetist performs their duties in three stages: preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative. Before surgery, you'll need to assess the patient's medical history and current condition to determine if any factors may pose complications with the anaesthesia. Throughout the surgical process and after, you’ll also be responsible for:

  • Undertaking a physical assessment

  • Taking part in preoperative teaching

  • Choosing the correct type of anaesthesia for each patient

  • Determining the proper amount of anaesthesia 

  • Monitoring the patient's vital signs and adjusting the amount of anaesthesia as necessary

  • Delivering anaesthesia via gas and intravenously to keep the patient pain-free 

  • Maintaining anaesthesia intraoperatively

  • Administering medications that help block pain 

  • Preparing for anaesthetic management

  • Responding appropriately if complications arise

  • Supervising recovery from anaesthesia

  • Proving post-surgical pain management to help ensure a controlled recovery

Check out this fascinating video on sensory systems from the University of Michigan:

Nurse anaesthetist skills

As a nurse anaesthetist, you must be professional, think critically, communicate well, and possess technical nursing skills. During your schooling and career, you’ll develop an advanced skill set to use specialised equipment and make complex decisions that critically impact a patient's health. Here are some of the core competencies you'll need as a nurse anaesthetist:

Critical thinking: You need to be able to make quick decisions based on patient observations and test results.

Attention to detail: You must interpret data, such as a patient's vital signs, and adjust accordingly. You also need good technical knowledge when administering precise doses of anaesthesia and other medicines.

Interpersonal skills: You must work well with others on the health care team, including doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals.

Communication skills: You need to be able to explain what you're doing as you administer anaesthesia and provide updates about your patient's condition after surgery.

Nursing skills: To offer safe, high-quality care as a nurse anaesthetist, you must have excellent clinical skills, including physical assessment skills. You also need to keep up-to-date with best practices in anaesthesia and new developments in pain management.

How much does a nurse anaesthetist make?

According to Payscale, nurse anaesthetists earn an average annual salary of  ₹7,12,155 as of March 2024 [1]. The employer may also pay additional compensation, including bonuses and overtime.

Nurse anaesthetist job outlook

Demand for nurse anaesthetists is high, and there is a shortage in India, according to the India Times. India has one anaesthetist for every 50,000 residents [2].

Is being a nurse anaesthetist a good career choice?

Some benefits of being a certified registered nurse anaesthetist (CRNA) include higher compensation within the nursing field, a positive job outlook, and personal and professional satisfaction. While many professions within nursing dedicate themselves to helping patients get better, you’ll have the opportunity to help them feel better as they face some of their most trying health scares. 

Your job as an anaesthetist is to ensure that patients do not feel pain throughout the surgical care cycle. While this may seem simple enough, it can be pretty complicated because each person feels pain differently and has different drug tolerances. You must also know how to handle problems if they arise before, during, or after surgery.

When deciding if being a nurse anaesthetist is the right career choice, remember that it entails working in high-stress environments with critically ill people who require life-saving care. You’ll be able to make a difference in people’s lives every day.

Some of the benefits of becoming a nurse anaesthetist include the following:

  • Autonomy: As a nurse anaesthetist, you’ll practice independently and collaborate with other health care team members.

  • Demand: The demand for CRNAs is very high and continues to rise.

  • Intellectually challenging: Your work as a CRNA is considered intellectually demanding, requiring insight and critical thinking.

  • Professional satisfaction: As a nurse anaesthetist, you can typically get great professional satisfaction from providing quality care to patients in pain.

Depending on your work type, you may work nights, weekends, and holidays, especially in a facility that provides around-the-clock emergency treatment. 

How to become a nurse anaesthetist

To become a nurse anaesthetist in India, you need to have the proper education and licensing. Here's what you can expect to do on the path to joining this critical health care profession: 

1. Education

You must pass 10+2 or an equivalent physics, chemistry, and biology exam. The next step is to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSc), followed by a master’s degree in nurse anaesthesia.

2. Get certified

After graduation, you may need to sit for the National Certificate Examination (NCE). You’re ready to begin a career as a nurse anaesthetist upon completion.

3. Gain work experience

After meeting the education and certification requirements, you can gain hands-on experience as a certified registered nurse anaesthetist (CRNA). 

Getting started 

Becoming a nurse anesthetist involves many years of education and clinical training. Consider exploring key concepts related to the field by taking a cost-effective online course through Coursera today. 

To deepen your understanding of how vital signs and pain correlate within the body, consider taking the University of Pennsylvania's Vital Signs: Understanding What the Body Is Telling Us. Meanwhile, the University of Michigan's Anatomy Specialisation will introduce you to the major organ systems, their functions, and how they relate to one another within the body.

Article sources


Payscale. “Average Nurse Anaesthetist Salary in India, https://www.payscale.com/research/IN/Job=Nurse_Anesthetist_(CRNA)/Salary”. Accessed March 28, 2024.

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