Nurse Anesthetists at a Glance
Gone were the days when nurses used to rely on doctors’ orders alone, the nurses of today do not only perform simple tasks in clinical area, instead, their roles have expanded and they now may be able to perform procedures that were never thought possible before. As the years go by, nursing has evolved from being a dependent to a collaborative and autonomous profession. With fast-changing and various emerging demands and challenges, nursing specialties have risen to address these needs in the nursing profession, one of which are called nurse anesthetists.
Nurse anesthetists are nurses who perform a variety of duties including administering anesthesia, monitoring patients’ vital signs, and supervising patient recovery after surgery; and may assist physicians, dentists, anesthesiologists, and other medical professionals in managing anesthetic needs of the patient. Their role encompasses initial evaluation of patients up to their discharge.
What they do
Just like any nurse, nurse anesthetists are expected to perform and accomplish several things. However, they may differ in some ways. For example, they may perform standard nursing assessment with a focus on evaluation of the patient as well as talking with them about their procedure. After which, they may refer the patient to other specialists if they have conditions that might affect the anesthesia experience.
Nurse anesthetists may also develop an anesthesia plan, wherein they can take notes on various medical conditions to be aware of for anesthesia, what to watch out for during the entire procedure and specific actions for staff from the Recovery room to perform. They may also recommend the type and levels of anesthesia for the procedure.
When it comes to the preparation for the procedure, they are responsible for helping prepare the patient for their procedure and the anesthesia. Needed IVs may be checked and made sure that they are ready for use. They are also expected to help with setting up any monitoring devices to check blood pressure, pulse and temperature of the patient.
For the most anticipated part, which are anesthesia preparation and administration nurse anesthetists will administer all anesthesia and supporting drugs and monitor the patient’s reaction throughout the whole procedure and may even need to adjust the medications appropriately. Prior to this, needed anesthetics, accompanying drugs and IV fluids must be requested and made ready to be used in the operating room. Post procedure, they are expected to bring the patient out of the anesthesia and prepare them for transfer to recovery. While in recovery, the nurse anesthetist continues to monitor for any adverse effects of anesthesia. Documentation must also be given priority and all patient documentation regarding anesthesia must be updated and precise.
Furthermore, nurse anesthetists hold the responsibility for ensuring patient’s airway, emergency drug and fluid management, and any life support measures they are expected to do as well as perform administrative functions such as management of patient records, procedure coding and billing, inventory and restocking, and patient scheduling.
This new breakthrough in the nursing profession does not only broaden the nurse’s scope of practice, it also boosts their morale and job satisfaction as they do not feel powerless anymore. Most importantly, patient care may be improved as patients are given more attention and their needs are addressed more fittingly by nurses with appropriate skills and knowledge.