Most Nurse Anesthetists Would Choose the Career Again-- Anesthesiologist Shortage Raises CRNAs’ Stature and Earnings

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In a 2005 CRNA survey by physician/CRNA recruiting firm LocumTenens.com, nearly 90% of respondents said they would stick to medicine if they could choose all over again.

They enjoy the responsibility and challenge of the job and, of course, the compensation.

“If you had it to do all over again, would you choose medicine as your career path?” Many medical professionals today would answer an emphatic “no,” citing issues like the cost of malpractice insurance or the constraints of managed care.

Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are one big exception. In a 2005 CRNA survey by recruitment firm LocumTenens.com, nearly 90% of respondents said they would stick to medicine if they could choose all over again.

“We’re in touch with almost a third of the licensed U.S. nurse anesthetists, so these results don’t surprise me,” LocumTenens.com Vice President Lisa Kaeck said. “They enjoy the responsibility and challenge of the job and, of course, the compensation.”

Generally, CRNAs provide anesthesia to patients under the supervision of surgeons, anesthesiologists and or physicians. A combination of the U.S. physician shortage and a rising number of in surgical procedures has increased demand for these practitioners, who generally earn less than anesthesiologists. “Many states face such a shortage of providers that they allow CRNAs to administer anesthesia without a physician supervising,” Kaeck notes.

CRNAs aren’t complaining. The anesthesiologist shortage has resulted in higher pay for nurse anesthetists--and the numbers keep climbing. According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, the average CRNA salary in 1999 was about $102,000. Based on its 2005 survey, LocumTenens.com pegs average annual nurse anesthetist compensation at $149,147 in 2005, a 46% increase in six years. (In its latest physician compensation report, the Medical Group Management Association reports that median CRNA compensation grew 33% between 2000 and 2004.) Forty-three percent of respondents earn more than $150,000 annually.

In its Web-based survey LocumTenens.com polled more than 3,400 CRNAs.    Half of respondents have been practicing anesthesia for 10 years or more. To view the survey in its entirety, visit http://www.locumtenens.com/about/surveys.

Founded in 1995, LocumTenens.com is a full-service physician/CRNA recruiting firm specializing in supplemental placement of anesthesiologists, radiologists, psychiatrists, surgeons and CRNAs with U.S. hospitals, medical groups and community health centers. LocumTenens.com is part of the Jackson Healthcare Solutions family of companies. To learn more, visit the company's web sites at http://www.locumtenens.com/ and http://www.crnajobs.com/.

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Billie Wickstrom
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