CRNA vs NP | Career Differences and Similarities

Pursuing a career as a CRNA or nurse practitioner (NP) enables advanced practice registered nurses to operate at the highest levels of nursing.

Each profession is highly specialized, allowing these experts to provide outstanding care to patients with specific needs.

Although CRNAs and NPs receive extensive education and training, they have distinctive roles.

A CRNA’s background focuses on utilizing anesthesia and other pain management drugs.

It enables them to treat patients during specific medical phrases requiring surgery, therapies, or treatments.

An NP’s education concentrates on providing primary care to a specific demographic, such as pediatrics or mental health.

This article focuses on the primary responsibilities of CRNAs and NPs to distinguish their specialization and roles.

CRNA Responsibilities

There are numerous responsibilities certified registered nurse anesthetists manage daily. 

CRNAs work primarily with anesthesia drugs and other medicines necessary for pain management.

As a result, they’re highly specialized and require significant training and education in administering/delivering drugs.

CRNAs also receive substantial training in utilizing diagnostic equipment, monitoring vitals, and determining the impact of various drugs.

CRNAs must carefully study their patients’ medical histories before administering anesthesia or other drugs.

One mistake can have severe consequences on a patient’s health and outcome.

Therefore, CRNAs thoroughly gather health data, interview patients, and identify potential drug allergies/reactions.

 CRNAs continually monitor patients’ vitals during surgical procedures and adjust the treatment as needed.

Finally, these specialists will provide continual oversight after recovering from anesthesia to ensure they 

CRNA Duties:

  • Consult patients about upcoming treatments/surgeries
  • Research patient medical histories
  • Administer aneshtesisa
  • Monitor vitals during treatment
  • Coordinate care with surgeons/physicians

Work Setting

CRNAs manage the delivery of anesthesia treatments and other medications.

As a result, they typically operate in settings that require anesthetics and pain management medicines.

It includes hospitals, surgical units, urgent care centers, dentist offices, podiatry clinics, and pain management facilities.

With that said, there are overlapping environments where CRNAs and NPs operate together.

Nurse Practitioner Responsibilities

Nurse practitioners develop specialized knowledge and training to serve their patients as primary care providers.

These professionals receive post-graduate education in a specific healthcare area to accommodate distinct medical needs.

For instance, some NPs specialize in pediatrics to treat infants, children, and young people. 

Others specialize in psychiatric mental health, assisting those with various mental/psychiatric conditions.

Unlike CRNAs, nurse practitioners do not work directly with medicines or drugs.

However, some NPs prescribe medications when their scope of practice.

Nurse practitioners also diagnose patient conditions and independently own clinics/offices in full-practice states.

NP Duties:

  • Assess and Diagnose various conditions
  • Provide specialized care in specific domains
  • Prescribe medications
  • Act as primary care providers
  • Independently operate clinics
  • Coordinate care with physicians
  • Assist patients with recovery

Work Setting

Nurse practitioners develop specialized medical expertise to accommodate patients with specific healthcare needs.

As a result, they operate in different healthcare departments that utilize their particular knowledge, training, and background.

It includes hospitals, cardiology units, emergency rooms, critical care, private offices, and independently owned clinics.

Nevertheless, there are standard work settings where CRNAs and NPs operate jointly.

For instance, CRNAs and NPs often work at hospitals, critical care/trauma units, and other emergency settings.

Each professional plays a significant and independent role in ensuring patients receive adequate medical care.

CRNA vs. NP | Primary Differences

As previously mentioned, CRNAs and NPs receive substantial post-graduate education to accommodate patients within their particular domain.

With that said, there are numerous distinctions between the two career paths.

A CRNA’s education heavily concentrates on anesthesia and pain management medications.

As a result, they learn how to assess their patient’s conditions and administer appropriate medications during treatment.

An NP’s education diligently concentrates on delivering primary care to specific populations.

As a result, they focus on the diagnosis and treatment of various medical conditions.

An NP’s treatment is more holistic as it looks into different ways to treat a patient’s condition/disorder.

A CRNA’s care is more medicine focused because it focuses on delivering pain management medicine to aid treatment.

Another distinction between CRNAs and NPs is that certified registered nurse anesthetists almost always work conjointly with physicians, surgeons, and dentists.

Some nurse practitioners work with physicians and surgeons in hospitals, emergency departments, and urgent care centers.

However, they also operate clinics independently in full-practice states and prescribe medications based on their diagnosis.

CRNAs play a more supportive role by assisting physicians and surgeons, while NPs play a more primary care role.

Shift Schedule

CRNAs and NPs often work in hospitals, emergency departments, and other similar healthcare settings.

As a result, they typically work morning, noon, or night shifts and operate on the weekends and holidays.

They also work long shifts/schedules that are commonplace in 24/7 healthcare settings.

It includes working 10, 12, or even 24-hour shifts.

With that said, some nurse practitioners work more traditional schedules, especially those with independently run clinics.

Nurse practitioners who own and operate offices set their hours.

As a result, they can work Monday thru Friday from 8 am to 5 pm or set limited schedules for weekends.

CRNAs working for dentists or other independent establishments may receive more traditional work hours.

Unlike 24/7 healthcare facilities, independent offices have set operation hours.

It enables them to close during the evenings with limited weekend operation.

It also enables these establishments to remain closed during holidays or special occasions.

There are no overnight stays for patients, and those requiring significant care get treated at a hospital or specialty facility.

CRNA vs. NP | Income Differences

NPs earn fantastic salaries due to their exceptional knowledge and expertise.

Nevertheless, their average salary varies depending on their specialization, training, and experience.

Nurse practitioners earn a median income of approximately $116,237 annually, according to Salary.com.

However, those at the high end earn closer to $135,415 yearly.

CRNAs earn one of the highest incomes in the United States due to their specialization and demand.

For instance, CRNAs make about $200,762,  with the top 10% of earners making over $230,000 annually!

Both nurse practitioners and certified registered nurse anesthesia make a lot of money!

However, the demand for CRNAs is relatively high, and they’re much less expensive to hire than anesthesiologists.

It enables CRNAs to earn salaries that rival most other occupations in the United States.

Career Outlook

The career outlook for nurse practitioners and certified registered nurse anesthetists is incredible!

According to BLS.gov, CRNAs, nurse midwives, and NPs will experience 45% career growth over the next decade.

As a result, numerous options exist to earn exceptional incomes in high-demand, highly secure occupations.

These professionals also benefit from having a large number of employment opportunities.

It enables them to negotiate wages and compensations and work in locations that suit their lifestyle and interests.

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