FAQ

When considering a career in nurse anesthesia, individuals often have questions about the profession. The following includes answers to some of the most frequently asked questions and suggestions on where to get answers to other questions you may have. It is hoped that you will find this information useful in considering a career as a nurse anesthetist.


What are Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs)?

Nurse anesthesia is an advanced clinical nursing specialty. As anesthesia specialists, CRNAs administer approximately 65% of the 26 million anesthetics given to patients in the U.S. each year.

How does a nurse become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)?

A nurse attends an accredited Nurse Anesthesia Education Program to receive an extensive education in anesthesia. Upon graduation, the nurse must pass a national certification exam to become a CRNA.

What does a Nurse Anesthesia Education Program include?

30  to 36 months of graduate course work including both classroom and clinical experience with:

The classroom curriculum emphasizing anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, biochemistry, chemistry, physics and pharmacology as related to anesthesia. The major clinical component providing experience with a variety of anesthesia techniques and procedures for all types of surgery and obstetrics. Currently, a few Nurse Anesthesia Education Programs grant a professional certificate while the majority confer a master’s degree in nursing, allied health, or biological and clinical sciences. Nurse Anesthesia Education Programs are modifying their curricula to meet the requirement that all programs offer a master’s degree beginning in 1998.


What are the requirements for admission to a Nurse Anesthesia Education Program?

  • A Bachelor of Science in Nursing or another appropriate baccalaureate degree from an approved nursing program. (Each program determines "appropriate" degrees and "approved" programs.)
  • A license as a registered nurse.
  • A minimum of one year of acute care nursing experience. (Each program determines what constitutes "acute care" nursing.)


Is financial aid available for an individual to attend a Nurse Anesthesia Education Program?

Financial aid is available and varies by program. It is suggested that you contact several programs and ask them about the availability of tuition assistance, as well as the specific admission criteria. There is no financial aid available through the AANA for those entering a nurse anesthesia program.

What is the role of individual CRNAs?

A CRNA takes care of a patient’s anesthesia needs before, during and after surgery or the delivery of a baby by:
  • Performing a physical assessment participating in preoperative teaching
  • Preparing for anesthetic management
  • Administering anesthesia to keep the patient pain free
  • Maintaining anesthesia intraoperatively
  • Overseeing recovery from anesthesia
  • Following the patient’s postoperative course from recovery room to patient care unit.
  • Because CRNAs are licensed as nurses, they provide services in conjunction with a qualified physician — for instance, a surgeon, dentist, podiatrist, or anesthesiologist.


Where do CRNAs practice?

CRNAs practice in a variety of settings in the private and public sector and in the U.S. military, including traditional hospital operating rooms, ambulatory surgery centers, pain clinics, and physician’s offices. They practice on a solo basis, in groups and collaboratively. Some CRNAs have independent contracting arrangements with physicians or hospitals.

What employment opportunities exist for CRNAs?

CRNAs are in demand and therefore, have many opportunities for general or specialty practice throughout the U.S. Reflecting the level of responsibility, CRNAs are one of the best paid nursing specialties. The reported average annual salary in 1996 was approximately $86,000. An article in the September 21, 1992 issue of Fortune magazine included nurse anesthetists among the top 20% of income earners in America.


American Association of Nurse Anesthetists

Marguerite M Brunner, MA
222 South Prospect Avenue
Park Ridge, IL 60068-4001

(847) 692-7050 ext. 3065


Courtesy from © 1998 American Association of Nurse Anesthetists