How Can I Become A Nurse Anesthetist? Schools, Programs, Cost.

A nurse anaesthetist is an advanced level practising registered nurses who assist patients in dealing with pain before and during surgical operations, for injuries and during childbirth using epidural.

They also provide emergency services such as airway management, they work in a high-stress environment as most of their patients are in severe pain. 

Over two-thirds of United, States hospitals have nurse anaesthetists as the major source of anaesthesia within their facilities.

According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), nurses first gave anaesthesia to wounded soldiers during the Civil War.

Hence, if you have ever thought about becoming an anaesthetist and you want to know about the degree, you need to have. And what an Anesthetist career and job outlook are like or what your salary will be when you gain your certification.

This article will give you a full guide on how to become a nurse anaesthetist and an overview of what education you need in order to become a nurse anaesthetist. See the table of contents below.

Who is a Nurse Anesthetist?

A certified registered nurse anaesthetist (CRNA) is an advanced level practising nurse who is certified in anaesthesia.

According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), nurses first gave anaesthesia to wounded soldiers during the Civil War. Today, nurse anaesthetists work in a variety of settings such as.

  • Hospitals (operating room & obstetric care)
  • Dental offices
  • Pain management centers
  • Public Health centers
  • Outpatient surgery centers
  • Plastic surgery centers

According to the AANA, when anaesthesia is administered by a certified nurse anaesthetist, it is considered the nursing practice. If administered by an anesthesiologist, it is considered practising medicine.

However, anesthesia is administered the same way by both professionals.

The difference between certified registered nurse anesthetists and anesthesiologists is that CRNAs are graduate degree-level nurses, and anesthesiologists are medical doctors.

In many states, CRNAs can practice without physician supervision.

What is a Nurse Anesthesia?

Anaesthesia is a state of controlled, temporary loss of sensation or awareness that is induced for medical purposes.

It may include analgesia, paralysis, amnesia, or unconsciousness. A patient under the effects of anaesthetic drugs is referred to as being anaesthetized. 

What Does a Nurse Anesthetist Do?

Nurse anaesthetists play an important role in the delivery of anaesthesia. Medications used for anaesthesia can be risky.

CRNAs must use their nursing skills and knowledge of the medications to maintain patient safety and achieve the desired effect of the drug. Specific duties may include:

  • Performing a physical assessment
  • Taking a patient history
  • Educating patients and families on the anaesthetics used: the desired effect, common side effects, and potential adverse reactions
  • Getting informed consent before procedures
  • Using adjunctive medications, fluids, and other treatments to maintain cardiorespiratory status and fluid balance if needed
  • Maintaining/managing patients’ airways using intubation, mechanical ventilation, and pharmacological support
  • Inserting peripheral or central lines
  • Inserting epidurals for obstetric patients
  • Recovering patients from anaesthesia.
  • Administering the anaesthetic which may be:
  • Local, intravenous, spinal or sedation
  • Monitoring patients during administration to include:
  • Oxygenation, ventilation, cardiovascular status (including fluid balance), temperature, neuromuscular status or positioning.

Nurse Anesthetist Employment Outlook & Salary

Nurse anaesthetists have had a long, robust history that has developed into a highly respected and in-demand career.

They are commonly the only anaesthesia provides in less populated communities, which leads to higher access to care and therefore, improved patient outcomes.

Certified registered nurse anaesthetists are one of the highest-paid advanced-practice nurses. According to PayScale, their salary can range from $96,175 to 184,547.

The median salary is about $139,838 per year. The top-paying states for CRNAs are Montana, Wyoming, California, Oregon, and Nevada.

Salary depends on the state and city of residence, organization of employment and the number of years of experience.

Other factors that can affect salary are city and state of residence, years of experience, and the organization of employment

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected employment of CRNAs is expected to grow 19% by 2024, which is a faster-than-average growth.

Currently, the states with the highest level of employment for CRNAs are Texas, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida.

For a more detailed understanding, check out this breakdown of a nurse anaesthetist salary.

How To Become A Nurse Anesthetist

1st Step: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

To become a CRNA, aspiring nurse anesthetists must first earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). They may have to finish two years of prerequisites before applying to a bachelors-level nursing program.

Some students become nurses through a diploma or associate’s degree programs and gain some experience before completing an RN-to-BSN program.

Coursework topics include basic nursing skills, health assessment fundamentals, human anatomy, biology, psychology, pharmacology, and pathophysiology.

Students complete clinical rotations in major health departments, like women’s health, pediatrics, mental health, and surgery.

Nurse anesthetist programs often require applicants to have maintained an overall GPA and science GPA of 3.0 or better.

2nd Step: Get State Licensure

All states require nurses to pass the National Council Licensing Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and get licensure before being allowed to practice.

Individual states might have additional requirements. One’s RN license must be in good standing to apply for a nurse anesthesia program.

3rd Step: Get Experience

Nurse anaesthesia master’s degree programs require applicants to have a minimum of one year of professional, hands-on experience in critical care nursing. RNs can gain experience by working in an intensive care unit, cardiac care unit, or surgical intensive care unit.

Applicants must earn Critical Care Registered Nurse certification. Many nurse anesthesia master’s degree programs suggest that applicants earn certification in this specialty area.

Having this certification proves that nurses are knowledgeable and competent in critical care. Eligibility requirements include a valid RN license and at least 1,750 hours of direct critical care within the past two years.

Job shadow a nurse anesthetist. Nurse anesthesia programs stress that it’s important to have a genuine interest in an anesthesia career.

Programs suggest that prospective students shadow CRNAs before applying.

4th Step: Earn a Master’s Degree

A master’s degree program in nurse anesthesia requires a minimum of 27 months of full-time attendance.

Students learn to operate anaesthesia equipment and manage surgical and emergency situations that require anaesthesia.

Course topics commonly include anesthesia pharmacology, anesthesia pathophysiology, anesthesia biochemistry, geriatric anesthesia, obstetric anesthesia, and pain management.

Students complete many supervised clinical experiences involving diverse anaesthesia situations, from eye surgery to plastic surgery and open-heart surgery.

5th Step: Become a CRNA

Attaining the CRNA credential is necessary to practice. Individuals with master’s degrees in nurse anaesthesia from accredited schools and unrestricted RN licenses are eligible to take the National Certification Exam, which is administered by the National Board of Certification & Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists. Some states also require CRNAs to get speciality licensure status.

The aspirants must maintain credentials. Nurse anaesthetists must keep their RN licenses valid, which requires periodic completion of professional development. Individual states set regulations.

Every two years, they must complete 40 hours of approved continuing education and submit documentation of valid licensure and employment history to maintain the CRNA designation.

6th Step: Gain Experience

A CRNA is an advanced RN position but a further advancement is an option for enterprising CRNAs.

With leadership acumen and formal business education, CRNAs may move into managerial or high-level administrative positions within hospitals or medical facilities.

Alternatively, more academic-focused CRNAs may wish to get a doctorate and conduct research or be part of a research team.


All nurse anaesthetists must complete an accredited program which takes 24-36 months. While these students graduate with a minimum of a master’s degree, 16 of the 113 programs across the U.S. award a doctoral degree. All nurse anaesthesia programs have courses such as Anesthesia pharmacology

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of all advanced-practice nurses — like nurse anaesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners — is expected to grow a whopping 31% by the year 2024. That’s good news for RNs who intend to further their nursing careers by becoming a CRNA.

You’re in!
Therefore, in these opt-out states, CRNAs can legally practice without physician supervision. As advanced practice registered nurses, CRNAs practise with high autonomy and professional respect

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
Instead of pursuing a career as an anesthesiologist which requires eight additional years of school and residency following a bachelor’s degree, an RN might elect the advanced practice CRNA career path. … Mean annual wages for anesthesiologists were $232,830.

A nurse anaesthetist, more correctly called a certified registered nurse anaesthetist, is an RN, not a physician. Although some CRNAs hold a doctorate, they are not medical doctors. … Any nurse who wants to become a medical doctor must go to medical school.


In conclusion, if you have ever thought about becoming an anaesthetist and you want to know about the degree you need to have.

Also, what an Anesthetist career and job outlook are like or what your salary will be when you gain your certification.

This article will give you a full guide on how to become a school anaesthetist.


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