Student Resources


Hopefully you are viewing this page because you are interested in knowing more about a career in nurse anesthesia. You have come to the right place! Below are some FAQ's about a career as a CRNA. Should you have further questions, please contact COANA.

What is a nurse anesthetist and what does CRNA stand for?

A nurse anesthetist is a specially educated advanced-practice registered nurse. Officially, our title is CRNA, which stands for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. CRNAs perform many different functions and roles within hospitals, surgery centers, physician's offices and other settings. Our primary role is to provide anesthesia care to a patient who is undergoing a surgical procedure or diagnostic test.

How does one become a CRNA?

coana5A career as a CRNA begins by becoming a registered nurse (RN). There are numerous types of RN educational programs, the most common being Associate Degree and Baccalaureate Degree programs. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) typically takes two academic years to complete. The Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing (BSN) typically takes four academic years to complete. There are "bridge" programs available that allow nurses with Associate Degrees to obtain their Baccalaureate Degree. Most nurse anesthesia programs today require their applicants to have the BSN degree, but there are programs that will accept an ADN with a baccalaureate in another field. For specific academic requirements, check with the department of admissions at the school of interest. Other requirements for anesthesia school admission include a minimum of one year of clinical experience as an RN in a critical care nursing unit, and the completion of some type of standardized aptitude test (GRE, MAT, etc)

Is it difficult to get into anesthesia school?

Admission to nurse anesthesia school is very competitive! There are always many more qualified applicants than there are student positions within any given school. Only the best and brightest applicants are chosen for admission. You will have a better chance of being accepted to anesthesia school if you maintain a high grade point average, get a good score on your standardized test, and have excellent letters of recommendation.

What does a Nurse Anesthesia Education Program Include?

A program will include 24 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.

All nurse anesthesia education programs offer a master’s degree. Depending on the particular program, the degrees are in nursing, allied health, or biological and clinical sciences.

What are the Requirements for Admission to a Program?

The requirements for admission are:

  • A bachelor’s of science in nursing or another appropriate baccalaureate degree. (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.)

How long does anesthesia school take?

Program length varies from school to school, but generally ranges from 24 to 36 months.

Do I become a CRNA when I graduate from anesthesia school?

No, one becomes a CRNA when one has successfully passed the National Qualifying Examination administered by the Council on Certification of Nurse Anesthetists. This examination is taken soon after graduation from anesthesia school.

Are there any anesthesia schools in Colorado?

*Texas Wesleyan University: MSNA (Entry Level), MHS (Completion), DNAP (Completion).  This is a distance learning option that is available at a clinical site in Denver. This option requires you to be in Fort Worth, Texas for a small portion of the instruction.

Where can I get more information about a career as a nurse anesthetist?

The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists is an excellent source of information for students. Here is a link to their article: Qualification and Capabilities of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. Should you need further information, do not hesitate to contact COANA.

Is Financial Aid Available for an Individual to Attend a 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.

What is the Role of An Individual CRNA?

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.

CRNAs provide services in conjunction with other healthcare professionals such as surgeons, dentists, podiatrists, and anesthesiologists.

Where do CRNAs Practice?

coana3CRNAs practice in a variety of settings in the private and public sectors and in the U.S. military, including traditional hospital operating rooms, ambulatory surgery centers, pain clinics, and physicians’ 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 United States.

Reflecting the level of responsibility, CRNAs are one of the best paid nursing specialties. The reported average annual salary in 2014 was approximately $165,000.

Past, Present, Future of CRNAs

Nurse anesthesia is no longer the best kept secret in healthcare. Established in the late 1800s as the first clinical nursing specialty, nurse anesthesia developed in response to the growing need surgeons had for anesthetists. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) have played significant roles in developing the practice of anesthesia. Today, more than 37,000 CRNAs provide cost-effective, high-quality patient care that is essential to America’s healthcare system.

What Is the Role of the Individual CRNA?

Nurse anesthetists, pioneers in anesthesia, have been administering anesthesia for more than 100 years.

As anesthesia specialists, CRNAs take care of patients before, during and after surgical or obstetrical procedures. Nurse anesthetists stay with their patients for the entire procedure, constantly monitoring every important body function and individually modifying the anesthetic to ensure maximum safety and comfort.

For more information write to  .

Courtesy from © 2010 American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
222 South Prospect Avenue
Park Ridge, IL 60068-4001
(847) 692-7050 ext. 3065


Guide to Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
This guide features detailed descriptions of CRNAs' core responsibilities, as well as candid insights from interviews with practicing CRNAs.


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