The difference between a registered nurse and an anesthetist nurse

Registered nurses (RNs) are among the most versatile and valuable professionals within the health care system. They are the health care equivalent of a Swiss army knife, with training that gives them the intellectual tools to play a supporting or leadership role in almost any area of ​​clinical care. The most ambitious nurses can acquire the additional education and skills to become advanced practice nurses, such as certified nurse anesthetists or CRNA.

Registered Nurses

Registered nurses enter the profession by acquiring a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and passing a national license exam. Its role in most health care organizations begins with basic patient care, at the basic level. Motivated nurses can make progress through time and experience, gradually focusing on management or areas of clinical practice of special interest. For example, some become perioperative nurses and spend their time in the care of surgical patients. Others may opt for pediatrics or oncology. A handful pursues a master’s or doctorate in nursing, becoming advanced practice nurses.

Nurse Certified Anesthetists

Certified nurse anesthetists are one of four categories of advanced practice nurses, along with nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists. CRNAs earn a master’s degree in anesthesia and can provide full anesthesia services during surgical interventions without the supervision of a doctor. They are responsible for monitoring the patient’s condition while under anesthesia, preparing patients for anesthesia, and contributing their knowledge about pain management during patient recovery. Outside of anesthesia services, CRNAs are limited to nursing practice, while anesthetists, being doctors, often treat cardiopulmonary diseases and other medical conditions.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an average annual income of $ 69,110 for registered nurses, as of May 2011. Separated by percentages, 25% of nurses with lower incomes earned up to $ 53.77 thousand per year. The median income, or midpoint, was $ 65,950 per year, and 25 percent with higher incomes reported income of $ 80,390 or more. However, nurse anesthetists are in a totally different salary range. The medical staff firm Locum Locum, in a 2011 survey, reported an average salary of $ 168,998 per year for the CRNA. The American Association of Anesthetist Nurses reported an average income of $ 182,000 in 2009.

Job Outlook

The health care system employed more than 2.7 million registered nurses in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the figure is expected to increase significantly. The agency projects a 26 percent increase in the number of registered nurses between 2010 and 2020, much higher than the average for all occupations. The demand for nurse anesthetists is expected to be even greater, due in large part to the increase in the number of surgical procedures performed in outpatient clinics and clinics. A 2010 article in the Becker’s Hospital Review noted a shortage of 5,000 nurse anesthetists, indicating strong demand in the short term as well.