CRNA Training at a glance…
The COA requires that each CRNA program:
The following is an excerpt directly from the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists website. Line breaks and text enhancements were supplied for your reading ease.
“The didactic curricula of nurse anesthesia programs are governed by COA
standards and provide students the scientific, clinical, and
professional foundation upon which to build sound and safe clinical
Most nurse anesthesia programs range from 45 to 75 graduate semester credits in courses pertinent to the practice of anesthesia.
The science curriculum of graduate nurse anesthesia programs includes a minimum of 30 semester credit hours of courses in anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, chemistry, biochemistry, and physics.
Courses in anesthesia practice provide content such as induction, maintenance, and emergence from anesthesia; airway management; anesthesia pharmacology; and anesthesia for special patient populations such as obstetrics, geriatrics, and pediatrics.
“Students are instructed in the use of anesthesia machines
and other related biomedical monitoring equipment and are evaluated
didactically using such traditional evaluation methods as examinations,
presentations, and papers.
Patient anesthesia simulators are an emerging technology
used in many programs to develop dexterity and critical thinking skills
essential for the practice of nurse anesthesia.
The supervised clinical residency of nurse anesthesia
education provides students the opportunity to incorporate didactic
anesthesia education into the clinical setting.
Nurse anesthetists are prepared to administer all types of anesthesia, including general, regional, selected local and conscious sedation, to patients of all ages for all types of surgeries.
They are taught to use all currently available anesthesia drugs, to manage fluid and blood replacement therapy, and to interpret data from sophisticated monitoring devices.
Other clinical responsibilities include the insertion of invasive catheters, the recognition and correction of complications that occur during the course of an anesthetic, the provision of airway and ventilatory support during resuscitation, and pain management.
“To meet COA standards and be eligible to take the Council on
Certification of Nurse Anesthetists (CCNA) Certification Exam, a student
must have performed a minimum of 450 anesthetics, which must include specialties such as pediatric, obstetric, cardiothoracic, and neurosurgical anesthesia.
This anesthesia experience includes the care of not only healthy
but also critically ill patients of all ages for elective and emergency
procedures. In most programs, this minimum is surpassed early in their
clinical practicum and the average number of anesthetics performed upon graduation is 773.
The results of a 1998 survey of program directors show that Nurse anesthesia programs provide an average of 1595 hours of clinical experience for each student.
During their clinical anesthesia experience, students are
supervised by CRNAs or anesthesiologists who provide instruction in the
safe administration and monitoring of various techniques, including both general and regional anesthesia.
The clinical faculty also evaluate the technical and critical thinking skills of students on a regular basis.
“With the evolution of nurse anesthesia programs into the graduate education framework, there has been an increase in program requirements for scientific inquiry, statistics, and faculty-guided student research.
This scholarly activity may be in the form of a scholarly project. Areas of student scholarly activities include study surveys, animal studies, bench laboratory research, and clinical studies.
Research studies may include quantitative research using
descriptive and experimental design and qualitative research using valid
research methods. Students may do collaborative scholarly work with
nurse anesthesia faculty and faculty from other university departments
such as pharmacology, physiology, and anesthesiology.
Students are encouraged and assisted by faculty to present their
scholarly work at professional nurse anesthesia meetings and to publish
in the professional literature.
This addition of a scholarly requirement to nurse anesthesia graduate programs has increased the demand for higher education for nurse anesthesia faculty. The number of doctorally prepared CRNAs is increasing to meet the increased demand for university faculty requirements, student mentoring, and other nurse anesthesia scholarly endeavors.
Certification and Recertification
“Upon completion of a COA-accredited program, a graduate is eligible to take the national certification examination that is developed and administered by the CCNA.
The purpose of this examination is to measure the knowledge and critical thinking skills required of an entry-level nurse anesthesia provider. Each graduate of an accredited nurse anesthesia program must successfully pass this examination to earn the title of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.
CRNAs are recertified by the Council on Recertification of Nurse
Anesthetists, which focuses its efforts on ensuring that CRNAs maintain
their skills and keep current with progressive and technological
The recertification period for CRNAs is two years. This
recertification must be maintained for an individual to practice as a
CRNA in the United States and to stay in compliance with state nursing
From the commencement of the professional education in nursing, a minimum of 7 calendar years of education and training is involved in the preparation of a CRNA.”
To summarize, CRNA training programs must jump through certain “hoops” in order to stay accredited. While it’s true that some CRNA training programs are stronger than others, they all will give you the education you need to succeed as a nurse anesthetist. CRNA training is well worth the time, money and effort, regardless of which CRNA training program you choose.
*This page was updated April, 2010*