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The medical field is constantly evolving and advancing which leaves job openings in the industry. A certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) is a rewarding career that can be financially beneficial and personally satisfying. In this position you’ll perform similar duties as an anesthesiologist would including administering anesthetics, performing spinal or nerve blocks, and providing different sedatives when necessary. In order to become a CRNA there are a number of things you have to do including schooling, exams, certifications, and gaining field experience. The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists states that it usually takes at least seven years of postsecondary education as well as field work. This is broken down to be about 2,500 clinical hours with a required 850 anesthetic performances before certification can be achieved.The following are the steps that are usually required in order to become a CRNA.

Get a Degree and Nursing License

While this may seem obvious, you have to start by pursuing your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). You don’t particularly need a BSN in order to become an RN but students who achieve this degree have an edge when applying to the necessary anesthetics programs.During your education, you’ll be required to finish clinical rotations in medical departments like women’s health, surgical, or pediatrics. During this time you’ll want to keep your grades up to show your knowledge and abilities, especially since most anesthetist programs require you to maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher.

After graduation from an undergraduate program, you’ll need to get your license. The requirements for obtaining this can vary by location but they usually involve a training program followed by a licensing exam administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. In order to find out specifics, check with your local member boards.

Work in the Field for a Year

In order to best perform as a CRNA it’s advised that you work for at least one year as a registered nurse in a clinical setting like intensive care, cardiac care, or an emergency room. During this time, some nurses decide to get their Critical Care Registered Nurse Certification (CCRN) in order to better their chances of getting into an anesthetist program. This certification requires a valid RN license, 1,750 hours of critical care work within the last two years, and passing an exam. You can also choose to shadow an established CRNA to gain experience, something that programs usually advise before starting the certification program.

Attend and Graduate from an Accredited Program

At this point you have to apply and gain admittance to an accredited nurse anesthesia program. These are competitive programs with strict admission requirements. Each program has their own standards but an example from one program shows that potential students need two years’ RN experience, one year of ICU experience, a valid RN license, an undergraduate degree in a related discipline, prerequisite courses (chemistry, microbiology, and more), a 3.0 overall GPA, a 3.0 GPA in five specific science courses, skilled writing abilities, work experience alongside a CRNA, three reference letters, a resume, valid transcripts, and some certifications which may vary. You should review the application requirements for your specific program before applying to your nurse anesthetist courses.

When you complete your accredited program (something that usually takes around 36 months), you’ll be awarded at least a master’s degree (some have earned a doctoral degree in certain programs). When you graduate you will have gone through nurse anesthetist courses like anesthesia pharmacology, pain management, anesthesia biology, and similar courses. You’ll also go through a clinical practice with a local hospital to get hands-on experience before graduating.

Pass Board Exams

You’ll now how to take and pass the National Certification Examination (NCE) issued by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA). This will test your knowledge on everything you learned during your nurse anesthetist courses. In order to better your chances at passing the exam, consider taking a review course like that offered by Valley Anesthesia to properly prepare for the national exam.

After completing all of the necessary steps and obtaining your certification, you can now begin to look into getting a job as a CRNA. Once you get your certification remember to keep it up to date in the proper fashion.

About The Author

Sneha Srimani is a Bachelor of Science graduate in health education. She is also social media manager at Before coming to Nucleus Accumbens, she worked as a Jr. Medical Physicist. Now she decided to share her experience and medical information through this blog.