How Do I Become a Nurse Anesthetist?

nurse-anesthesistCertified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are specially trained to provide anesthetics to patients before a variety of different surgeries or medical procedures in every practice setting. These advanced practice nurses are well respected in the professional medical community that may be the sole anesthesia providers in rural or military hospitals. The following is an in-depth explanation about how interested individuals can become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist and begin a rewarding career in the booming healthcare industry.

CRNA Education Requirements

In the United States, extensive education and experience training are required in order to legally practice as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. Students pursuing this career must first obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, or another closely related and appropriate bachelor’s degree. After undergraduate graduation, students need to possess a current license as a registered nurse and gain at least one full year of job experience within an acute care nursing setting. If registered nurses do not have a BSN, there are some universities that also offer options for accelerated degree paths from RN to MSN as well.

Once these requirements have been met or exceeded, the nurse must apply to a graduate school program that offers a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, with a specialization in nurse anesthesia. Graduate programs must be accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA). Students must successfully complete an additional 2 to 3 years of coursework and clinical training in graduate school. The curriculum is designed to provide training through an integrated process between the classroom and a clinical setting within university-based or large community hospitals for optimal preparation. Although the length of study depends on the chosen accredited university, most student nurse anesthetists complete nearly 2,500 clinical hours and administer more than 850 anesthetics before graduation.

CRNA Certifications and Qualifications

After successful completion of an accredited graduate program, nurses must pass the national certification examination that is administered by the Council on Certification of Nurse Anesthetists. The certification process is also governed by the National Board on Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists. In order to legally practice in the United States, CRNA nurses must assure to employers and patients that they have been board certified. Certification demonstrates that the nurse has exceeded all benchmark qualifications, knowledge, and skills to implement safe and effective anesthesia practices. Furthermore, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists are required to continue their education and take recertification examinations every two years. Specific states may also include additional requirements for maintaining the certification license to practice.

Overall, becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist requires a minimum of seven years of education, clinical training, and experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 34,180 CRNAs employed in hospitals, physician offices, and outpatient care centers throughout the nation. On average, Nurse Anesthetists are compensated a mean annual salary of $154,390, which translates to $74.22 per hour. Although the process necessitates a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication, students are placed on the right track toward a very rewarding and in-demand career.