Education and experience required to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) include:
A Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) or other appropriate baccalaureate degree.
A current license as a registered nurse.
At least one year’s experience in an acute care nursing setting.
Graduation from an accredited graduate school of nurse anesthesia. These educational programs range from 24-36 months, depending upon university requirements, and offer a master’s degree.
All programs include clinical training in university-based or large community hospitals.
Pass a national certification examination following graduation.
It takes a minimum of seven calendar years of education and experience to prepare a CRNA. The average student nurse anesthetist completes almost 2,500 clinical hours and administers about 850 anesthetics.
More than 2,000 student nurse anesthetists graduate each year and go on to pass their certification examination.
Nurse anesthetists were among the first specialty nurses to require continuing education. CRNAs must be recertified every two years, which includes meeting practice requirements and obtaining a minimum of 40 continuing education credits.
The first organized program in nurse anesthesia education was offered in 1909. As of October 2011, there are 112 nurse anesthesia programs with more than 1,800 clinical sites in the United States. These programs are affiliated with or operated by the school of nursing or health sciences department of a university.
The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) implemented a certification program in 1945 and instituted mandatory recertification in 1978. The first certification examination was administered in 1945 to 92 candidates.
In 1952, AANA established a mechanism for accreditation of nurse anesthesia educational programs that has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education since 1955.
In 1990, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published findings indicating a growing need for additional nurse anesthetists. The present day workforce numbers more than 44,000 CRNAs.
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Last updated: October 2011