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?
A 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. Every nurse anesthesia program has their own entrance requirements, and may have different definitions of what they consider "critical care" experience.
How long does anesthesia school take?
Program length varies from school to school, but generally ranges from 24 to 42 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 Alabama?
Yes, we are very pleased to have two excellent nurse anesthesia programs, one at the
University of Alabama at Birmingham and another at
Samford University in Birmingham. Click the corresponding link for more information.
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. Their information includes a basic overview of the education of nurse anesthetists, and information about the interview process for admission into nurse anesthesia school. Here is a link to their information:
AANA Student Resources. Should you need further information, do not hesitate to contact me or any member of the ALANA Board of Directors.