Career Planning

Becoming A Nurse Anesthetist (Crna): 6 Steps To Success

Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) The Complete Career Guide NurseRegistry

Becoming a Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA): 6 Steps to Success

Are you passionate about healthcare and interested in a rewarding career that involves critical thinking and patient care? Becoming a Nurse Anesthetist, also known as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), may be the perfect career path for you. Nurse Anesthetists are advanced practice nurses who specialize in administering anesthesia to patients during surgical procedures. They play a crucial role in ensuring patient safety and comfort before, during, and after surgery.

Step 1: Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

The first step towards becoming a Nurse Anesthetist is to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN). This typically takes about four years to complete and provides you with a solid foundation in nursing theory, patient care, and clinical skills.

Choose an Accredited Nursing Program

When selecting a nursing program, it’s important to choose one that is accredited by a recognized accrediting body such as the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Accreditation ensures that the program meets certain quality standards and prepares you for professional practice.

Gain Clinical Experience

During your nursing program, you will have the opportunity to gain hands-on clinical experience in various healthcare settings. This experience is essential for developing your nursing skills and understanding the needs of patients in different contexts.

Step 2: Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam

After completing your Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, you will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become a licensed registered nurse (RN). The NCLEX-RN is a standardized exam that assesses your knowledge and skills in nursing practice.

Prepare for the Exam

To increase your chances of success on the NCLEX-RN exam, it’s important to review and study the content covered on the exam. There are many resources available, including review books, online courses, and practice exams. Additionally, consider forming a study group with classmates to share knowledge and support each other.

Take the Exam

Once you feel adequately prepared, you can schedule your NCLEX-RN exam. The exam is computer-based and consists of multiple-choice questions that assess your understanding of nursing concepts and ability to apply them in clinical scenarios. Passing the exam is a requirement for obtaining your RN license.

Step 3: Gain Nursing Experience

Before pursuing a career as a Nurse Anesthetist, it’s important to gain experience as a registered nurse. Many CRNA programs require a minimum of one to two years of full-time nursing experience in an acute care setting, such as an intensive care unit (ICU) or emergency department.

Develop Critical Care Skills

Working in an acute care setting will provide you with valuable experience in managing critically ill patients. You will learn how to assess and monitor patients, administer medications, and respond to emergencies. These skills are essential for becoming a successful Nurse Anesthetist.

Obtain Certifications

While gaining nursing experience, consider obtaining certifications that are relevant to your area of practice. For example, certifications in critical care nursing or emergency nursing can demonstrate your commitment to professional development and enhance your qualifications as a Nurse Anesthetist.

Step 4: Research and Choose a CRNA Program

Once you have gained the necessary nursing experience, it’s time to research and choose a Nurse Anesthetist program. There are many accredited CRNA programs available throughout the United States.

Research Accredited Programs

Start by researching accredited CRNA programs to ensure they meet your educational and career goals. Consider factors such as program length, location, cost, and clinical opportunities. Look for programs that have a strong reputation and high pass rates on the National Certification Examination.

Meet Admission Requirements

Each CRNA program has specific admission requirements that you must meet. These typically include a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, a current RN license, a minimum GPA, and letters of recommendation. Some programs may also require you to complete specific prerequisite courses.

Step 5: Complete a CRNA Program

Once accepted into a CRNA program, you will complete an intensive program of study that typically lasts 24 to 36 months. CRNA programs provide advanced coursework in anesthesia pharmacology, physiology, and pathophysiology, as well as extensive clinical training.

Classroom Instruction

During the didactic portion of the program, you will attend classes and participate in laboratory simulations to develop your knowledge and skills in anesthesia practice. You will learn about different anesthesia techniques, patient assessment, and the management of anesthesia-related complications.

Clinical Training

The clinical component of the program is where you will gain hands-on experience in administering anesthesia to patients under the supervision of experienced CRNAs and anesthesiologists. This is a critical part of your education and allows you to apply what you have learned in a real-world setting.

Step 6: Obtain Certification and Licensure

After successfully completing a CRNA program, you will need to obtain certification and licensure to practice as a Nurse Anesthetist.

Pass the National Certification Examination

The National Certification Examination (NCE) is administered by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA). This exam assesses your knowledge and skills in anesthesia practice and is a requirement for certification.

Apply for State Licensure

Once you have obtained certification, you can apply for state licensure to practice as a Nurse Anesthetist. Each state has its own licensing requirements, so be sure to research and comply with the regulations in the state where you plan to practice.


Becoming a Nurse Anesthetist requires dedication, hard work, and a commitment to lifelong learning. By following these six steps, you can set yourself on the path to a successful career as a CRNA. Remember to continuously seek opportunities for professional development and stay updated on the latest advancements in anesthesia practice.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the role of a Nurse Anesthetist?

A Nurse Anesthetist is an advanced practice nurse who specializes in administering anesthesia to patients before, during, and after surgical procedures. They work closely with anesthesiologists and other healthcare professionals to ensure patient safety and comfort.

2. How long does it take to become a Nurse Anesthetist?

The path to becoming a Nurse Anesthetist typically involves obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, gaining nursing experience, completing a CRNA program, and obtaining certification and licensure. This process can take several years, depending on individual circumstances.

3. How much does a Nurse Anesthetist earn?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for Nurse Anesthetists was $183,580 in May 2020. However, salaries can vary depending on factors such as location, years of experience, and employment setting.

4. Are there any continuing education requirements for Nurse Anesthetists?

Yes, Nurse Anesthetists are required to participate in continuing education activities to maintain their certification and licensure. This ensures that they stay current with advancements in anesthesia practice and provide the highest quality care to their patients.

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