How to Become a CRNA

A nurse can advance his or her career in a variety of ways, and one of the most popular ways is through CRNA certification. CRNA stands for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. In this field of work, healthcare professionals administer anesthetics to induce a loss of sensation in the patient. This sedation allows for the doctor to carry out complex medical procedures without causing physical pain to the patient.

Knowing how to properly administer anesthesia is a highly valued skill in the healthcare world, which is why CRNAs are in such high demand. CRNA job growth is expected to increase by 31% in the forthcoming decade. Interested in potentially becoming a CRNA professional? Here is what you need to know about nurse anesthetist programs and training.

CRNA vs Anesthesiologist: What is the Difference?

The difference between nurse anesthetist vs anesthesiologist is fairly simple. Nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are nurses with specialized training, while anesthesiologists are doctors who have attended a four-year medical school. Anesthetists and anesthesiologists play similar roles in a medical setting; they both manage the administration of anesthesia. Even though anesthesiology tends to last longer than nurse anesthetist schooling years, anesthesiologists have higher earning potential.


* FYI: Nurse Anesthetist Pronunciation

Nurse anesthetist pronunciation can be difficult at first. “Anesthetist” is pronounced “A-NES-THE-TIST” by the American standard.


Nurse Anesthetist Schooling: CRNA Programs

There are plenty of CRNA schools for nurses to choose from. There are even online CRNA programs available, including DNP anesthesia online programs (DNP stands for “Doctor of Nursing Practice,” a professional doctorate). Some nurses opt to pursue BSN to DNP nurse anesthesia programs. BSN stands for Bachelors of Science in Nursing, the go-to degree for many students seeking employment in the field of nursing. Once a student graduates with a BSN, there is the option to accelerate with BSN to DNAP programs, otherwise known as the Doctorate of Nurse Anesthesia programs. Some nurses can seek education through a post masters CRNA.

Nurse anesthetist schooling years can last anywhere between 2 and 4 years for an on-campus or online DNP program, depending on the program and the intensity of the courses. A decent CRNA program should teach students things like safety measures, how to handle medical equipment, how to prepare for anesthesia administration, how to monitor a patient, and how to guide a patient through the post-operative phase of recovery. It is common for anesthetic programs to cover courses in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and pharmacology.

CRNA Credentialing Requirements

To become a certified registered nurse anesthetist, you will need the following:

  • A BSN and a registered nursing license (RN).
  • Graduation from a nurse anesthesia educational program that is COA accredited. The COA (Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs) creates a set of standards that credible nurse anesthesia programs must abide by.
  • Work experience. This can be done through internship or externship. In supervised settings, CRNA trainees can learn by practicing anesthesia techniques and applying theory or knowledge to clinical problems.
  • Pass the CRNA certification exam. Every nurse must pass a CRNA exam in order to be hired as an anesthetist.

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