Nurse Anesthesia

What is a nurse anesthetist?

A certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) is a specialist in the aspects of providing safe anesthesia to patients as a part of an anesthesia staff that includes a medical anesthesiologist. Among their many duties, nurse anesthetists are primarily responsible for developing an appropriate anesthesia care plan consistent with the overall medical and nursing regimen; administering general and regional anesthesia to all ages and categories of patients for a variety of surgical and medically-related procedures; and using a broad variety of techniques, anesthesia agents, adjunctive drugs, and equipment in providing anesthesia care. CRNAs administer approximately 65% of the 26 million anesthetics given to patients in the United States each year. Today, about 30,000 CRNAs provide high quality patient care in America's healthcare system.

The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA)

The AANA is the professional association representing approximately 30,000 CRNAs nationwide. CRNAs are required to earn 40 continuing education credits every two years as one of the criteria for recertification. Among its many activities, the AANA recertifies qualified CRNAs and formulates the criteria for eligibility for recertification.

Pre-requisites for admission to masters programs with emphasis on admission requirements for the Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia Program at Missouri State University.

Programs that prepare nursing practitioners to sit for the certifying examination leading to becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) now require a masters degree from an accredited program. Programs vary from about 24 to 36 months and have either a nursing or biomedical sciences focus. One or two classes per year are admitted by most programs. Admission to these programs is very competitive and requires applicants who have met most if not all of the following requirements, depending on the specific program:

Bachelors degree in an area of the life sciences, nursing, or chemistry from an accredited institution in the U.S. A Bachelor of Science - Nursing (BSN) is required by many programs. All applicants must have current licensure as a registered nurse. Undergraduate course work must include inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, microbiology, human anatomy, and human physiology. Other specific courses, such as biochemistry, statistics, or genetics may be required in some programs. The grade point average of course work must be at least 3.00 on a 4.00 scale

Various nursing specialty practice certifications, including PALS, ACLS, and BLS.

Recent scores from the general portion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Supporting reference letters from nursing supervisors under whom the applicant has worked.

At least one year experience as a registered nurse in an acute care setting. Two years or more are preferred. Preferred areas include: general ICU, SICU. Medical ICU, or Neurotrauma ICU.

Personal interviews with selection committees.

Important personal and professional characteristics include: ability to interact with personnel on a professional level, ability to operate as a team member, ability to operate efficiently and effectively under stress, and demonstration of a motivation, interest, and knowledge of the field. A good attendance record in the work and academic areas can be important.

Preparing for a career as a nurse anesthetist.

Preparing for this specific career requires a carefully-planned sequence of educational and work experiences, first as a student, and then as a registered nurse. The student and nurse must make sure that each step will promote their credentials as a competitive applicant to a nurse anesthesia program. It is strongly recommended that applicants shadow in the nurse anesthetist environment and discuss the pros and cons of the profession with experienced CRNAs.

For more information

For information on the Nurse Anesthesia program at Missouri State University contact:

Shel 'Lee Haik, 417-836-5039, Professional Bldg., Room 229


Missouri Stat University School of Anesthesia, c/o Department of Biomedical Sciences
901 S. National Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65897