Education and Work Environment of CRNAs

What are the Prerequisites for Anesthesia School?

While individual nurse anesthesia educational programs may have additional requirements, the general entrance requirements to a program are:

  • A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or other appropriate baccalaureate degree.
  • A license as a registered nurse (RN).
  • At least one year of experience as an RN in an acute care setting. 

Is a master's degree Required to become a CRNA?

Yes. To become a CRNA today, one must graduate with a master’s degree from a nurse anesthesia educational program accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA).However, nurse anesthesia educational requirements are transitioning to the doctoral level by 2025, and many educational programs already offer doctoral degrees.

Where do CRNAs work?

CRNAs practice in every healthcare setting in which anesthesia is delivered, including traditional hospital surgical suites and obstetrical delivery rooms, ambulatory surgery centers, pain clinics and physicians' offices.CRNAs are the hands‐on providers of more than 34 million anesthetics delivered each year in the United States. They provide the majority of anesthesia care in the Veterans Administration and U.S. Military.

CRNAs are the primary anesthesia providers in rural America, enabling healthcare facilities in these medically underserved areas to offer obstetrical, surgical, trauma stabilization, and pain management services. In some states, CRNAs are the sole anesthesia providers in nearly 100 percent of the rural hospitals.

How long does it take to become a CRNA?

It typically takes seven to eight years of education, training, and experience to become a nurse anesthetist: four years to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing (or other appropriate baccalaureate degree) and become licensed as a registered nurse; a minimum of one year practicing as an RN in an acute care setting; and two to three more years of graduate-level education and training culminating in a master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited nurse anesthesia educational program. To become certified to practice as a nurse anesthetist, the graduate must pass the National Certification Examination.

What is included in the curriculum for student registered nurse anesthetists?

The nurse anesthesia classroom curriculum emphasizes anesthesia, pain management, anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, biochemistry, chemistry, physics and pharmacology. The clinical component provides case experience in all anesthesia techniques.

CRNAs receive extensive clinical experience in basic, advanced and subspecialty anesthesia and related services.

What is the average salary of a CRNA?

Reflecting the level of responsibility they assume on a daily basis, CRNAs are the highest paid advanced practice registered nurses. According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, the median annual total compensation in 2012 was $165,000.

Continuing Education

In order to be recertified, CRNAs must obtain a minimum of 40 hours of approved continuing education every two years, document substantial anesthesia practice, maintain current state licensure, and certify that they have not developed any conditions that could adversely affect their ability to practice anesthesia.

CRNA's Comprable to Physician Anesthesiologist

CRNAs and anesthesiologists undergo similar education and training, and research shows that CRNAs deliver anesthesia care that is the same high quality as that of anesthesiologists. The focus should be on outcomes, not titles.

CRNAs are highly educated advanced practice registered nurses who specialize in anesthesia, have extensive experience in acute care settings, and hold advanced degrees in addition to their undergraduate nursing education and training. America’s 45,000 CRNAs administer approximately 34 million anesthetics to patients each year in the United States. CRNAs are the primary anesthesia providers in rural America, the military and the VA. Additionally, CRNAs practice in collaboration with other healthcare professionals in every setting where anesthesia is delivered.