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Published: Jun 13, 2023 12 min read

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Nurse anesthetists administer anesthesia and help implement care plans for patients that undergo surgery or outpatient procedures. They can be an integral part of any healthcare facility and can help to fill staffing gaps as needed. A nurse anesthetist degree provides candidates with an abundance of skills and experience that help in many different areas.

This guide to nurse anesthetist hiring is designed to outline the hiring and recruitment process, including how to advertise nurse anesthetist job openings (tip: ZipRecruiter can be a great place to post, with access to over 3 million job seekers), how to screen candidates and how to make the best hire for your team.

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What is a nurse anesthetist?

Nurse anesthetists, also known as nurse anesthesiologists or certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), administer anesthesia and medications that help keep patients comfortable during medical procedures. They also provide care and monitoring while a patient is recovering from anesthesia. Nurse anesthetists are one of the highest-paying nursing jobs available.

What does a nurse anesthetist do?

Nurse anesthetists may work independently, or they might work alongside anesthesiologists, surgeons or physicians, depending on state requirements and the policies of the healthcare facilities that employ them. Nurse anesthetists work in a variety of facilities, including emergency rooms, operating rooms or outpatient clinics.

In addition to administering anesthesia to patients, nurse anesthetists must understand patient risks such as allergies and dosage levels, monitor patients to ensure normal reactions and educate patients about the use of anesthesia.

Nurse anesthetists use different types of anesthesia, including general anesthesia, regional anesthesia and sedation. Some forms of anesthesia are given through masks or tubes, while others are given using IVs or needles.

How the nurse anesthetist hiring process works

Nurse anesthetists can be a great addition to your team. Continue reading to learn more about hiring a certified nurse anesthetist.

1. Decide between hiring a part-time, full-time, temporary or per-diem nurse anesthetist

The type of nurse anesthetist hours you offer will depend on your staffing needs and financial situation. Part-time nurse anesthetists will require fewer overhead expenses since you won’t have to pay for benefits packages. However, they won’t have the time to gain as much experience as full-time employees which can lead to inefficiency.

Full-time employees have more consistent schedules, which gives them time to learn more about your organization’s procedures and policies and makes them a more integral part of your team. Full-time nurse anesthetists may also feel more dedicated to their employers. However, they will cost more in salary and benefits.

Temporary and per diem nurse anesthetists can help fill staffing gaps, typically on a short-term basis. Temporary nurses may work contracts that last a few months, but they are not considered permanent employees. Per diem nurses can pick up as little as one shift at a time to help fill emergency staffing needs. While they may not require benefits and additional expenses, temporary and per diem nurses typically do require higher pay.

Deciding whether you're hiring for a full-time position or a part-time position is one of the first decisions you'll need to make in the hiring process.

2. Source prospective candidates

Use the following methods to learn how to find great candidates for your nurse anesthetist job openings.

Your organization’s career page

Your organization’s career page is a great place to display everything that job seekers need to know about working for you. You might include information about your business’ values and goals, employee benefits and perks, FAQs, employee testimonials and specific job listings.

Your nurse anesthetist employment listing should include a detailed job description (more about this below), transparent annual salary information and details about accompanying benefits.

Creating a better career page can help you attract better talent for your organization.

Job posting websites

The best job posting sites for employers give access to a wide pool of applicants that meet nurse anesthetist requirements. You can post job listings with your job description and company information. If you have a recruiting budget, you can boost posts to increase awareness of your job listing.

Many job posting sites also have tools that help you screen applicants, such as an applicant tracking system (ATS). The best practices for using an ATS include automating repetitive tasks like reviewing resumes and scheduling interviews, integrating your ATS with social media usage to find candidates and providing training to your recruiting team.

Healthcare staffing agencies

Healthcare staffing agencies can help to provide qualified nurse anesthetists to organizations with job openings. Staffing agencies can make the recruiting process easier because they complete much of the screening process, like conducting interviews, background checks and drug screenings. They ensure that candidates meet all of the necessary requirements, so you can be confident that you’re getting talented employees. However, you need to be sure you can afford the staffing agency’s fees before outsourcing parts of your hiring process to them.

3. Write a nurse anesthetist job description

A nurse anesthetist's job description should include all of the information necessary for applicants to determine whether they might be a good fit for the job. You can include a summary of the nurse anesthetist’s role, bulleted lists of responsibilities and requirements and company-specific information to introduce candidates to your organizational culture. Use the tips below combined with a nurse anesthetist job description template like the one from ZipRecruiter to build a thorough description to use in job listings.

Required and preferred credentials

Many job descriptions provide required and preferred credentials to differentiate between the credentials that are absolutely necessary to perform the job, and those that are desired but not required. For example, required nurse anesthetist education may include a bachelor’s in nursing, but some organizations may prefer someone with a master’s degree or who has a minimum of two years of experience working as a nurse anesthetist.

The typical education requirements for a nurse anesthetist position include:

  • An associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing
  • A current registered nurse (RN) license
  • Advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) training, usually through an advanced degree program such as a master’s in nursing
  • Certification through the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA)

Skills and experience

Some of the most common nurse anesthetist hard skills and experience requirements include:

  • Providing anesthesia services using a variety of medications to patients undergoing surgery and other medical procedures
  • Evaluating and managing patient care needs either independently or under the supervision of anesthesiologists and other physicians
  • Providing IV sedation for various purposes
  • Additional experience with resuscitation, ventilation, intubation and other treatments and care services

Soft skills include analytical skills, organizational skills, leadership skills, communication skills and attention to detail. Many organizations also prefer candidates who are able to work collaboratively as part of a team.

Nurse anesthetist duties

Employers may look for nurse anesthetists that can complete the following duties:

  • Manage airways, pulmonary function and other vital signs
  • Select, prepare and order anesthetics, supplies, equipment and medical products
  • Complete pre-anesthetic exams to evaluate the physical status of a patient
  • Use basic life support techniques in emergency situations
  • Create treatment and care plans
  • Get informed consent and discharge patients
  • Evaluate diagnostic test results
  • Review medical histories to identify potential anesthetic risks
  • Provide post-anesthetic care and adjust medications as needed

4. Interview the top-qualified candidates

Once you have identified the top candidates for your position, you'll want to use the interview process to further evaluate them. The following are some helpful interview questions.

  • What should you monitor while a patient is under anesthesia? This question evaluates a candidate’s hard skills regarding patient care and safety while under anesthesia. You’ll be able to understand their level of knowledge about vital signs and how they can be used to indicate proper dosages.
  • Tell me about one of your last team projects. This prompt allows you to assess a candidate’s ability to work with a team, collaborate with others, communicate and handle conflict.
  • How do you continue your education and stay up-to-date on nursing techniques? This question allows you to gauge how dedicated the candidate is to continuous development and growth.
  • Have you ever had to care for a patient that was anxious? How did you handle it? This question lets you assess the candidate's problem-solving skills and their ability to handle stressful situations as well as understand the level of empathy they feel for patients.
  • What would you do if a patient went into cardiac arrest while under anesthesia? This prompt gives you an understanding of the candidate’s knowledge about life-saving measures and their ability to work under pressure and collaborate with other medical care providers.

Your interview should include a combination of hard and soft skills assessments as well as behavioral interview questions to learn more about the candidate’s personality. The best recruiting software can help you screen applicants, schedule interviews and keep track of the hiring process from start to finish.

5. Complete drug screenings, background checks and required vaccinations

Employer background checks can include a variety of screening tools, including criminal history checks, drug screenings and vaccination verification. Some employers may also choose to complete credit checks or social media assessments. You should be upfront about your background screening throughout the recruitment process and explain why you perform the steps included in your process. Provide information about the candidate’s rights and responsibilities in regard to this process.

Background check technology, including the best background check sites, can help make the process more efficient. Utilizing digital notifications and paperwork, online scheduling tools and messaging systems can make it easier to complete the process faster.

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Nurse anesthetist jobs FAQ

How much does it cost to hire a nurse anesthetist?

Recruiting and hiring a nurse anesthetist can include many expenses. Besides the salary you'll pay your new nurse anesthetist, you may need to pay for advertising and promoting job listings, salary or fees for recruiters, background checks or new-hire bonuses. In addition, consider the costs of training and continuous development, benefits and insurance, as well as additional perks.

How much does a nurse anesthetist make?

According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary of a nurse anesthetist in the United States is $121,180 per year. Depending on your location, the majority of nurse anesthetists earn yearly salaries between $83,000 and $152,000. Offering competitive compensation can improve your chances of hiring highly skilled nurse anesthetists.

Is a nurse anesthetist a doctor?

Some nurse anesthetists may choose to pursue a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP). This degree is the highest level of nursing education available, and it technically gives them the right to use the title of "doctor." However, using the title can cause some confusion because nurses who hold a DNP are not physicians.

Nurse anesthetist vs anesthesiologist: what's the difference?

Nurse anesthetists and anesthesiologists have similar job duties in that they both administer anesthesia to patients. However, the main difference between anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists is that anesthesiologists are doctors that have more freedom to practice independently and make higher-level decisions about patient treatment. Anesthesiologists also tend to make more money and spend more time in school.

Summary of Money’s guide to hiring nurse anesthetists

Nurse anesthetists can be a valuable part of your team to provide quality care for patients that need anesthesia for surgeries and other medical procedures. Start your recruiting process by understanding what job type you want to fill. Part-time and full-time nurse anesthetists can provide more permanent solutions, while temporary and per diem nurse anesthetists offer short-term solutions for last-minute staffing needs.

Create a detailed job description to outline the job’s duties, responsibilities, skills and education requirements. The job description can help you promote the job opening on your organization’s career page and job posting sites, or you can work with staffing agencies to fill jobs. Complete the hiring process by scheduling interviews and running the necessary background checks.

Learn more about how to retain employees so that you can create the best work environment for your new nurse anesthetist.