How To Become a Nurse Anesthetist | CRNA Advice

This article explores how to become a CRNA (certified registered nurse anesthetist).

It also explains what certified registered nurse anesthetists do and why they are essential to healthcare.

Becoming a nurse anesthetist begins with earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

Students must obtain their education from an accredited college or university with a BSN program.

It ensures they obtain adequate training and can transfer their credits to a school with an MSN/DNP program.

After completing the program and passing the licensure exam, RNs must work for at least one year in critical care or a related field.

It allows them to gain adequate work experience before applying for a nurse anesthetist program.

With that said, nurses with an ADN degree may also become nurse anesthetists through a bridge program.

You’ll have to check the anesthetist program to determine if it offers a bridge program and its rules and restrictions.

Working registered nurses will want to gear their work experience toward the acute medical care field.

It will help them learn how to attend to patients suffering from acute injuries and illnesses.

After acquiring enough experience, research nurse anesthetist programs to earn an MSN or DNP in anesthesia.

The nurse anesthetist program requires two to three years of education to complete.

It teaches students about utilizing various medical equipment and how to apply anesthesia properly.

Students also learn anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, pathophysiology, biochemistry, and pain management.

Students must pass a nurse anesthetist certification exam after completing the CRNA program.

The National Boards of Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) provides the CRNA exam.

Maintaining a registered nursing license and nurse anesthetist certification while working as a CRNA is necessary.

It requires continuing education courses, employment, and regular health assessments.

Undergraduate/BSN Program

Becoming a nurse anesthetist starts with earning a GED or Diploma.

Firstly, students must have a GED/diploma to apply to a college.

Before gaining acceptance into a nursing program, applicants must pass the required nursing school prerequisites.

They must also maintain their GPA average set by the nursing school.

Prerequisites may include English 101, Introduction to Psychology, Psychology 101, Introduction to Sociology, Sociology 101, and Anatomy & Physiology I & II.

Once the prerequisites are complete, students may enter a qualified nursing program.

It’s essential to understand that passing the prerequisites does not automatically guarantee acceptance into the program.

Many colleges or universities may have additional requirements you must meet to gain acceptance.

It includes maintaining a GPA average, passing interview processes, a points system, and recommendations.

In addition, they may have limited availability in their program and might not accommodate everyone who applies.

Talking to a guidance counselor will help you understand what is necessary to get into nursing school.

That way, you maximize your chances of getting into the program.

Upon gaining acceptance into the nursing program, you’ll spend the next three to four years learning about the field.

Coursework includes classroom lectures, books, videos, science labs, and real-world training to prepare you to be a registered nurse.

You’ll need to take your state’s NCLEX-RN exam to get licensed at the end of nursing school.

Gaining Nursing Experience

Many CRNA programs require/encourage candidates to work as registered nurses before applying for the program.

The time you must work as a registered nurse can vary from one to three years, depending on the program.

Working as an RN familiarizes you with nursing and helps you gain experience to become a CRNA.

It also helps you understand how to work with patients suffering from acute injuries and illnesses.

As you gain experience, focus your training and education in the acute care field.

You can work in a department like the ER (emergency room), or I.C.UU. (intensive care unit) or urgent care.

As a result, you’ll better understand the ins and outs of patient care and what you’ll encounter as a CRNA.

After you’ve gathered enough experience in acute care,  start applying to schools offering a qualified CRNA program.

Nurse Anesthetist Program

Most nurse anesthetist programs require a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

However, some schools offer a bridge program for students with an associate of science in nursing ADN..) degree.

The bridge program makes it easier for nurses to transition into an MSN degree by building on their prior knowledge.

You must check with the CRNA program to see whether they offer a bridge program.

You’ll also want to understand their requirements, expectations, and rules for getting into CRNA school.

Depending on the school, you may choose an MSN or DNP degree.

Depending on your interests, these degrees offer different opportunities for advanced practice registered nurses.

The MSN program usually requires two years to complete, and the DNP program is approximately four years of education.

During anesthetist training, registered nurses learn about essential topics related to their field.

It includes pharmacology, pathophysiology, biochemistry, and pain management.

In addition, students learn to utilize various tools needed to administer anesthesia and monitor patients.

After completing the CRNA program, students must take an anesthetist certification exam.

Finally, upon earning certification, CRNA may begin work as licensed nurse anesthetists.

Additional Graduate Program Information

There are numerous popular CRNA programs in the United States.

It includes the U.S. Army Graduate Program in Anesthesia Nursing, the Commonwealth University Master of Science Nursing Anesthesia Degree, the Doctor of Nursing Practice at Rush University, and Baylor’s College of Medicine program in nurse anesthesia.

With that said, you must do your research to determine the best CNRA program for your needs.

The U.S. Army Graduate program is the best program in the U.S. to become a CRNA.

It strives to prepare top-quality Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists for active duty service in the army.

Additionally, they provide training in field anesthesia to prepare graduates for various deployments.

The Department of Nurse Anesthesia at Commonwealth University is one of the top schools in the United States.

The program is seven semesters long, and participants have to finish 72 credit hours of science courses.

In addition, the program of study has recently been approved for an innovative clinical doctorate from the State Council of Higher Education.

At Rush University, the Doctor of Nursing Practice concentration in nurse anesthesia prepares graduates for various clinical settings. This comprehensive program combines a solid academic curriculum with clinical practice experience.

Their graduates are prepared to work with all kinds of patients, and they learn to undergo procedures that can be very complicated.

In addition, potential students should have one year of adult critical care experience (minimum) as registered nurses.

Baylor’s College of Medicine program of nurse anesthesia is also among the best in the U.S.

This program provides participants with a comprehensive graduate learning experience, and they help prepare students to assume roles as qualified nurse anesthetists.

The program runs for about 36 months and is divided into two phases.

Students learn all material through clinical sciences, translational research, and management.

After students complete the program, they can take the certification examination.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Overview

A certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) is a highly trained advanced practice registered nurse (APRN).

These specialists have acquired post-graduate education in anesthesia and earned board certification.

Nurse anesthetists administer anesthesia to patients undergoing surgery or suffering from an injury or illness.

Administering anesthesia requires prudent administration, a good understanding of human physiology, excellent interpersonal skills, and proper patient care.

As a result, those entering this profession have years of training/experience.

Nurse anesthetists have numerous responsibilities and tasks they perform daily.

It includes conducting patient/family interviews, researching patients’ medical records and backgrounds, monitoring patient vital signs during and after anesthesia, and gathering other information.

CRNA must understand their patient’s backgrounds before providing anesthesia.

It ensures the patient doesn’t suffer from potentially harmful side effects or medical complications due to the treatment.

Nurse anesthetists use the data they collect to tailor each treatment to the individual patient’s medical needs.

It’s necessary because each individual’s body reacts differently to anesthesia treatment.

In addition, they must carefully consider the amount and type of anesthesia given in a particular medical or surgical procedure.

Dosage and anesthesia type depends on the patient’s medical history and personal needs.

CRNA Responsibilities:

  • Perform assessments and patient background checks
  • Consult patients/family members about their medical histories
  • Administer anesthesia
  • Administer treatment plans
  • Update medical records
  • Monitor patient vital signs
  • Observe blood pressure fluctuations
  • Monitor and maintain appropriate body temperature levels
  • Observe the patient’s breathing patterns to ensure they receive adequate oxygen
  • Decide if the patient needs further airway management due to lung or respiratory complications
  • Assist physicians, surgeons, nurse practitioners, and other specialists

Nurse anesthetists are experts at monitoring their patient’s pain responses and adjusting pain medications.

They must ensure the patient is comfortable and safe during treatment.

That way, they can support the doctors, physicians, and registered nurses throughout the patient’s treatment.

Salary and Career Outlook

CRNAs earn one of the highest incomes in the United States.

They earn over six figures regularly, with highly sought-after CNRAs making over 200k annually!

That said, becoming a nurse anesthetist takes time, sweat equity, and effort.

Many nurses earn their BSN and spend years at work developing their expertise and understanding of their profession.

It allows them to earn a living and determine what career they want to pursue in the future.

It also allows them to contribute to the healthcare system and save lives.

Students must be prepared for the journey, consistent studying, and work needed to become CRNAs.

Nevertheless, it’s a fantastic career for the right medical professionals.

Careers for advanced practice registered nurses (including CRNAs) will grow by 45%, according to BLS.gov

As a result, numerous opportunities exist to make a fantastic income while helping others in a recession-proof profession.