It’s often called the best-kept secret in nursing: Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). These master’s-level advanced practice nurses prepare, administer and monitor the use of anesthetic medicine in patients. According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), CRNAs practice in every setting in which anesthesia is delivered: traditional hospital surgical suites, obstetrical delivery rooms, critical access hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers and the offices of dentists, podiatrists, ophthalmologists, plastic surgeons and pain management specialists.

Like many other specialty areas of nursing, CRNAs are in short supply and therefore in high demand. They also typically earn six-figure salaries. As the AANA puts it: “CRNAs practice with a high degree of autonomy and professional respect. They carry a heavy load of responsibility and are compensated accordingly.”

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