An Average Nurse Anesthetist Program at a Glance…
CRNA Degree offered
The average Nurse Anesthetist Program offers a Master of Science in Nursing. A few CRNA schools offer a Master of Science in Biology or Health Science, and a growing number of schools are offering a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.
An average Nurse Anesthetist MSN Program is 28 months and an average DNP program is 36 months. Degrees through either program could range in length from 24-42 months.
This can range from 40 to 120 or so. Keep in mind that some schools use quarter hours and others use semester hours. Also, some nurse anesthetist programs will give you credits for your clinical experience while others won’t.
Most nurse anesthetist programs start in the fall of August or September; many start in January. A growing number of programs that have changed to a DNP are starting in May or June. It is important to pay attention to start dates since the application deadlines are set around start dates.
The deadline is usually about a year before the start date of the program, so start your planning early!
Most schools will begin interviews shortly after the deadline, and will only interview about a third of the applicants. There are a few schools that accept applications year round and a few that give you a short window of time in which to apply.
Cost of Nurse Anesthetist Programs (for the entire duration of the program)
*Cost of In State Tuition: $15,000 – $127,000
**Fees and expenses: $1,000 – $20,000
Grand Total: $16,000 – $147,000
*Cost of Out of State Tuition: $34,000 – $159,000
**Fees and expenses: $1,000 – $20,000
Grand Total: $35,000 – $179,000
*Private CRNA schools do not charge out of state tuition, but they tend to charge more overall, than state schools do. If you’re planning to relocate, your best bet is usually a private school. Nine times out of ten, you’ll pay less.
**For most schools, “fees and expenses” includes application fee, certification fees, mandatory conference costs, nursing supplies and text books.
It does not include transportation costs (which really add up when you’re driving to clinicals that are up to 5 hours away or out of state), parking fees, or mandatory health insurance costs. It also doesn’t include the purchase of a laptop, which at most programs is essential.
Please note: if a school website lists an abnormal cost in their tuition total, I try to match the school website as much as possible so the numbers are similar. I have added notes to each school page as to what is included in each “fees and expenses” total.
Class size can range from 8 students to around 100, with the average class size between 12 – 25 students.
Number of Applicants
Applicants can range from about 70 to 700.
Academic and Clinical Experience
There are basically two kinds of nurse anesthetist programs: front loaded and integrated.
At least 45% are front loaded, which means that the first year is primarily didactic or academic, while the remaining portion is spent in clinical rotations.
An integrated program is one that begins clinical experience early in the first year and incorporates both didactic learning and clinical hours throughout the duration of the program.
What should you look for in a nurse anesthetist program?
In my correspondence with Dr. Sharon Hadenfeldt of BryanLGH Medical Center, I was given extremely helpful advice about how to find a quality CRNA program:
“The clinical experience is highly variable between programs and in some programs between students. A program can have some students in great clinical sites and some students in clinical sites where the CRNAs can’t push their own medications, and are highly restricted.
”This is what I would tell a good friend: Talk to CRNAs and current SRNAs. Ask how a student who struggles academically is handled? Are the students pushing their own medications, and doing a variety of procedures? Do students ‘share’ cases? Do students getregional experience? Do they work with CRNAs outside of an ACT environment? You really need to find out what happens in the clinical area.”
CRNA School Requirements
Here is a general list of CRNA graduate school requirements, or find a detailed list of CRNA school requirements.
- BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) or other related degree
- A current RN (Registered Nurse) license
- 1-2 years Critical Care experience
- A minimum GPA of 3.0
- Minimum GRE scores of 1000
- TOEFL score of 550 or better for international students
- PALS, ACLS, and BLS certifications
- Several course requirements – varies by program
CRNA School Performance
CRNA School Rankings – U.S. News & World Report (2007)
CRNA school rankings will give you a rough ball park idea of a school’s performance but it’s nothing to make your final decision based on.
Accredited Nurse Anesthetist Program are reviewed regularly.
You can look at how many years accreditation the school was given to show how stable the program is (10 is the maximum). Many new programs are given only a few years until the next review, as new programs tend to go through many changes when they first begin.
Pass Rate for CRNA Boards
Pass rate for CRNA boards is very straightforward and is a great indicator of how strong a school’s academic instruction is. I’ve found, however, that many schools don’t post this information on their websites.
It’s also important that you look at the school’s attrition rate as well. If it’s really high, they may be failing borderline students to keep their pass rates up.
CRNA Employment Rate of program graduates
CRNA employment rate is a less accurate gauge, since most schools have a 100% employment rate (though they don’t advertise it). I threw in this statistic more for encouragement than anything else. When you’re finished with this arduous journey, you’re just about guaranteed a job. Just keep in mind that jobs are easier to find in certain states. You may need to be willing to relocate. Finding employment as a CRNA will be more challenging if you live in a state with many programs.
An average annual nurse anesthetist salary in the US is $163,467 (according to a 2008 study)
- Rural average: $174,214
- Metropolitan average: $164,148
- Suburban average: $156,630
- Average starting CRNA salaries range from: $110,000-$130,000.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’S)
What does the average student registered nurse anesthetist look like? The average SRNA is about 30 years old, has around 3 years experience in a critical care unit, and has a 3.4 GPA. About half of them are married and around 30% have kids.
How many hours should I expect to be engaged in the program each week? Anywhere from 40-70 hours a week. Plan on spending an average of 50-60 hours per week.
Can I work as an RN while I’m in the program?
99% of the time, the answer is no. A few schools will allow you to work up to 16 hours a week, but it’s almost never a good idea. The program is very intense and requires your full focus and attention.
*This page was updated March 27, 2016.*
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