Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) Training

What is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA)?

Nurse anesthetists have been providing anesthesia care in the United States for 150 years.

A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who has acquired graduate-level education in the administration of anesthesia overseen by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists’s (AANA) Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs. Most CRNAs have practiced in a critical care setting as a nurse for at least one year.

Currently, there are approximately 37,000 CRNAs that provide the majority of hands-on anesthesia care in all 50 states.

CRNAs are the most advanced and highest paid of all nurses. They administer anesthesia during surgery when an anesthesiologist physician is not available.

CRNAs will often work as part of a team with anesthesiologists. CRNAs enable more surgeries to be completed, with fewer anesthesiologists on staff.

CRNAs are more cost-effective for hospitals than employing multiple anesthesiologists even though they are very well-paid compared to other nurses.

There is a high demand for CRNA’s service and it is highly unlikely that they will be replaced by anesthesiologists.

Depending on state regulations, CRNAs will work under the supervision of an anesthesiologist or practice independently. CRNAs cannot supervise other anesthesia provides.

What are the Job Responsibilities of a CRNA?

CRNAs function similarly to anesthesiologists. Their responsibilities are largely related to operative procedures.

They are responsible for both pre- and post-operative care as it relates to the delivery of anesthesia.

For example, prior to surgery, a CRNA will review the patient’s history, order diagnostic tests and consultations, interview the patient, discuss the anesthesia with the patient, obtain informed consent for anesthesia or assure that informed consent has been obtained, and order preoperative medications and fluids.

A CRNA is responsible for the formulation and implementation of an anesthesia care plan prior to the surgery, which should detail the needs, treatment, and expected outcomes for the patient. A CRNA must assess the risks and benefits of each type of anesthesia in the context of the individual patient.

A CRNA does a pre-op assessment of the patient, administers the anesthesia during the surgery, brings the patient back out of anesthesia, and then follows up to ensure the patient’s recovery from the anesthesia.

One of the chief responsibilities of a CRNA is managing the patient’s oxygen saturation and pulmonary status.

Respiratory failure or compromise is a key risk associated with anesthesia. A CRNA must confirm that the airway remains patent and that ventilation and oxygen equipment is working correctly.

A CRNA is also responsible for carefully checking equipment such as the anesthesia machine, oxygen equipment, and mechanical ventilator for safety and functionality before any procedures.

During surgery, a CRNA monitors the patient’s vital signs and adjusts the level of anesthesia accordingly, while coordinating with the surgical team.

In addition to the traditional roles related to surgery, CRNAs are prepared to administer emergency care in any situation.

Also, CRNAs practice acute and chronic pain management through drugs, regional anesthetics, or devices. They may also be asked to consult in respiratory care. They are required to respond to cardiac arrest codes.

What are the Educational Requirements to become a CRNA?

A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist must have a bachelor’s degree a in a science related field or a BS in Nursing. They must be a licensed registered nurse (RN).

Additionally, CRNAs are required to have a minimum of one year of nursing experience in an acute care setting.

Potential CRNAs apply to an accredited program of anesthesia education and study for 24-36 months. Some programs will require up to two years of experience in an acute care setting.

There are over 80 university-affiliated educational programs for nurse anesthetists in the United States.

To become a CRNA, a nurse anesthetist must pass a national certification. Every two years, a CRNA must be recertified which requires continuing education credits as well as additional requirements in the state in which they practice.

What is the average salary for a CRNA?

CRNAs  are some of the highest-paid advanced practice nursing professionals. Salaries vary greatly by type of facility, region, number of years in practice and sub-specialty.

CRNAs can expect to begin their careers earning in the low $110,000 salary range and can move toward $200,000 or more as they gain additional experience.

In 2009, the median annual salary for nurse anesthetists was $157,724 annually according to AMGA Medical Group Compensation and Financial Survey.

Salary Report (United States)