Finding the right nurse anesthetist program is not only critical to your success but it can help save time and costs down the road as you settle into your career.
Before you start compiling the list of nurse anesthetist schools that interest you, you should know what to expect from your education program in general. While entrance requirements and program structure vary by school, there are some basic requirements.
Nurse Anesthetist School Prerequisites
Nurse anesthetist training programs grant graduates with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), and many specifically require that applicants hold a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) and a current registered nursing license. Among the other standard requirements for students applying for nurse anesthesia school:
- A minimum number of years of experience in acute care nursing, usually at least one year
- A minimum GPA as an undergraduate student
- A satisfactory score on the GRE
- Completed course work in statistics, research, chemistry, anatomy or physiology might be required or highly recommended
- Professional and academic letters of recommendation
- A pre-admission interview
- A statement of purpose explaining why you want to pursue a career as a nurse anesthetist
Registered nurses (RNs) without a BSN and graduates of non-nursing bachelor's programs can work toward access to nurse anesthetist school through a couple of options:
- Registered Nurses (RNs) without a BSN can first complete an RN-to-BSN program that incorporates the course prerequisites and clinical experience that nurse anesthesia graduate programs require.
- Non-nursing students with a bachelor's degree can choose a "second degree BSN" program that allows them to fulfill undergraduate level requirements in nursing—including the ones required for graduate training in nurse anesthesia—at an accelerated pace and prepares them for licensure as a registered nurse.
After earning a BSN and gaining the necessary clinical experience, RNs and former non-nursing students can then go on to apply for nurse anesthetist school programs.
Nurse Anesthetist School Coursework
Requirements for becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist include the following:
- Students must complete 24 to 36 months of graduate training
- You must have experience working as a registered nurse in acute care
- You must receive a passing score on a national certification exam.
Your nurse anesthetist school program will include course work in the following areas:
- Professional aspects of nurse anesthesia
- Basic and advanced principles of anesthesia practice
- Health assessment for advanced nursing practice
- Anatomy for nurse anesthetists
- Chemistry of anesthesia
- Integrative physiology/pathophysiology
- Research methods
- Clinical pharmacology
Additionally, nurse anesthetist schools require a clinical practicum in which you will gain hands-on experience administering anesthesia to patients in surgical and obstetrical situations. Nurse anesthetist schools may stipulate a minimum number of hours of clinical practice and/or that students administer anesthesia to a minimum number of patients in order to graduate.
Nurse Anesthetist Careers and Focus Areas
Types of Nurse Anesthetist Practice
Depending on the setting, CRNAs might work collaboratively with surgical teams that include an anesthesiologist (MD), other nurse anesthetists or neither of these. They may also work as self-employed contractors who have made arrangements with clinics or physicians to provide anesthesia services as needed. Surgical and medical situations where nurse anesthetists apply their expertise include:
- Critical care surgeries, including heart and brain
- Trauma and injuries
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA); College of Health Professions; Westminster College; St. John's Health System.