CRNA - Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Jobs, Requirements, and Salary

Written By: Vonday J. Sines

What Does A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Do?

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists ( CRNAs ) are one of the four kinds of professionals called advanced practice nurses ( Click here to read about the other types of APRNs ).  They are registered nurses (RNs) with advanced educational credentials and considerable clinical training. CRNAs furnish care related to anesthesia and pain management for individuals undergoing surgery or some types of medical procedures.  This includes patients in childbirth and those with chronic pain.  These nurses are also experts at critical care and airway management.  ExploreHEALTHCareers.org indicates that they provide 32 million anesthetics each year.  In around two-thirds of rural hospitals, they are the only anesthesia providers.  According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists ( AANA ), approximately 49,000 CRNAs work in the United States.

What Are The Job Roles For A CRNA?

DiscoverNursing says CRNAs have five primary roles:

  • Care in the operating room
  • Services for outpatient procedures
  • Care in the emergency room
  • Managing pain
  • Administration of epidurals

Job Characteristics

  • Work is multifaceted
  • Duties are structured
  • Responsibilities require independence

See open CRNA positions currently listed near you.

What Education & Certification Is Needed For A CRNA?

The first step for an individual with an interest in a CRNA career is earning the RN credential through a hospital nursing program or via a two- or four-year nursing degree.  To be eligible for licensing, graduates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination ( NCLEX-RN ), DiscoverNursing states.

In addition to a year of critical care experience, a prospective CRNA needs to complete a master’s degree in nursing (MSN).  Acceptance into an MSN program typically requires a bachelor’s in nursing (BSN).  Receiving the designation of CRNA requires passing a certification exam.  The path to become a CRNA takes a minimum of seven calendar years, AANA indicates.  Some nurses, particularly those interested in teaching, opt to earn a nursing doctorate.

What Are The Degree Requirements For A CRNA?

The minimum educational degree required for CRNA candidates is a master’s in nursing.  Some schools offer transitional programs to accommodate RNs who don’t have a BSN but want to earn a master’s degree.

The Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs accredits CRNA programs.  More than 100 are currently accredited.  Among the top schools are these:

What Certification Is Needed For A CRNA?

The National Board of Certification & Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) administers the program that awards the CRNA distinction.  To take the exam, a candidate must have a current RN license, at least a year of acute care experience, and a master’s degree from an accredited graduate nurse anesthesia school that offers considerable clinical training. CRNAs must periodically complete re-certification.

What Are the CEU Requirements As A CRNA?

CRNAs must complete all state-mandated continuing education for registered nurses in addition to the requirements set forth by the NBCRNA.  Requirements vary by state and hospital, and may change from year to year.  Depending on your initial certification date, the NBCRNA requires 40 - 60 credit hours every four years (as of Dec 2016).

For more detailed information on Continuing Education (CE) for nurses, see Nurse.org's comprehensive guide .

Where Can I Work As A CRNA?

  • Hospital surgical suites
  • Ambulatory surgery centers
  • Obstetrical delivery rooms
  • Critical access hospitals
  • Prisons
  • Facilities of the Public Health Service, Veterans Affairs, and military bases
  • Offices of specialists like plastic surgeons, ophthalmologists, podiatrists, and dentists

Need more convincing? Nurse Anesthetists rank #4 in the Top 100 Jobs of 2016.

Vonda J. Sines is a freelance writer based in the Washington, DC area. She specializes in health/medical, career, and pet topics and writes extensively about Crohn's disease. Her work has been published at EverydayHealth, Lifescript, womansday.com, Yahoo! Health, Catholic Digest, Angie's List Health, and on many more sites.

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