How to Become a Nurse Anesthetist and Nurse Midwife

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Interested in advancing your nursing career? The steps for how to become a nurse anesthetist or nurse midwife include earning a BSN degree, passing the NCLEX, gaining relevant clinical nursing experience, completing an advanced nursing program, passing the licensure examination, and starting your new career.

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Do you dream of a career where you can truly make a difference in your patients’ lives? Nursing, and specifically becoming an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), is a great way to do just that. There are several types of APRNs, each focusing on a slightly different area of practice. We’ll discuss two of them in this blog: nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives.

Both these career fields are ripe with opportunity and purpose. If you are wondering how to become a nurse anesthetist or nurse midwife, there are a few steps you should be aware of. To enter either of these highly sought-after careers, you must first earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. At Northeastern University, you can do that in as few as 16 months through the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program.

In this blog, we’ll share all you need to know about how to become a nurse anesthetist and how to become a nurse midwife.

What Are Nurse Anesthetists and Nurse Midwives?

Nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives are two different kinds of APRNs, nurses who have gone back to school and earned a master’s or doctorate degree. Nurses work under the direction of others who create patients’ care plans, but APRNs are able to create care plans and make diagnoses, and generally enjoy more independence in treating patients.

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Nurse Anesthetists

Nurse anesthetists work alongside anesthesiologists to provide anesthesia to patients during surgery and other procedures. Nurse anesthetists generally monitor the patient throughout the procedure and adjust medications as needed. The nurse anesthetist requirements include a BSN plus a doctorate degree. Nurse anesthetists earn an average salary of $195,610 per year, according to May 2021 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Nurse Midwives

Nurse midwives work with women’s health, managing all aspects of pregnancy. They provide care throughout pregnancy, during the delivery, and after the baby is born, and can work in clinics or in hospitals. Nurse midwives need a master’s degree to practice, and they earn an average salary of $112,830 per year, according to May 2021 data from the BLS.

6 Steps to Become a Nurse Anesthetist or Midwife

Entering one of these advanced nursing careers will take hard work, but it’s sure to pay off. Reading the six steps below will help you understand how to become a nurse midwife or nurse anesthetist.

1. Earn a BSN Degree

Before becoming an advanced practice nurse, you’ll first need to become a registered nurse (RN) with a BSN. If you hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, or have earned at least 62 non-nursing college credits for the Charlotte, North Carolina, location, you may be eligible for the Northeastern ABSN program. Our 16-month program helps you fast-track your path to becoming a nurse anesthetist or nurse midwife.

The ABSN program consists of a combination of online classes, skills and simulation labs, and clinical rotations at healthcare facilities in the Boston or Charlotte areas. With three start dates per year at each location, you can be on your way to becoming an advanced practice nurse more quickly.

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2. Pass the NCLEX and Get Licensed

After earning your BSN, you’ll need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) before being eligible for a nursing license. This exam is a culmination of everything you learn in nursing school, testing your ability to make sound clinical judgements and provide effective care to patients. The Northeastern ABSN program will help prepare you for the exam from the first semester of nursing school.

Once you pass the NCLEX and meet any other requirements for your state board of nursing, you’ll be eligible for your RN license. This will enable you to begin working as a nurse, the next step in how to become a nurse anesthetist or nurse midwife.

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3. Gain Professional Nursing Experience

After becoming an RN, you’ll need to gain clinical experience before applying to graduate school. If you aspire to become as a nurse anesthetist, consider relevant clinical experience like working in a pre/post-anesthesia care unit, surgical center, or pain center. Likewise, if you hope to become a nurse midwife, try to gain experience in women’s health or the labor and delivery floor. Aim to get at least a couple years of professional nursing experience before submitting your application to graduate school.

4. Earn a Graduate Degree

Now you’re ready to apply to a graduate program specific to either nurse anesthesia or nurse midwifery. Remember that to become a nurse anesthetist, you’ll need to complete a doctorate degree program, such as the Northeastern University Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Nurse Anesthesia program. On the other hand, to become a nurse midwife, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is the standard accepted level of education.

These programs vary in length depending on what school you attend, but expect to spend three years in a full-time DNP program for nurse anesthesia and two to three years in an MSN nurse midwifery program.

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5. Pass the Certification Exam and Obtain Licensure

After finishing your graduate program, the final challenge is the certification exam for your specialty. These exams ensure you’re qualified to provide safe and effective care as a nurse anesthetist or nurse midwife. Once you pass your certification exam and meet all other requirements for your state, you’ll be able to receive your license from your state’s board of nursing.

6. Begin Your Career as an APRN

When you become licensed as a nurse anesthetist or nurse midwife, you’re ready to begin a professional role. The road to become an advanced practice nurse is challenging, but it’s all worthwhile because you’ll get to enter a rewarding and exciting field with plenty of demand.

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Launch Your Nursing Journey at Northeastern

Now that you know how to become a nurse anesthetist or nurse midwife, it’s time to make the transition to advanced practice nursing. At Northeastern, we’re well-versed at helping students find fulfilling careers in nursing, and our ABSN program is the ideal way to speed up the process. By earning your BSN in as few as 16 months, you can jumpstart your career as an RN. The ABSN program offers three start dates per year at both of our locations, near Boston, Massachusetts, and in Charlotte, North Carolina.

To find out if you’re eligible for the ABSN program, reach out to our admissions counselors today. They’ll guide you through the journey to nursing school and answer any questions you have about the process.

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