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 Aug. 1, 2013 there were 113 accredited nurse anesthesia programs in the United States utilizing more than 2,200 active clinical sites; 16 of these programs award a doctoral degree for entry into practice. Nurse anesthesia programs range from 24-36 months, depending upon university requirements. All programs include clinical training in university-based or large community hospitals.
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: March 2014