How Do I Become a Nurse Anesthesiologist?

Nurse Anesthesiologist Nurse anesthesiologists, also known as certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) provide anesthesia (pain-relieving medication) for surgical procedures under the direction of qualified physicians. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, CRNAs make an average annual salary of about $148,160. This is also a fast growing profession, with a 31 percent increase in jobs projected by 2022. Read on for a step-by-step guide to becoming a nurse anesthesiologist in the United States.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

While it’s possible to become a registered nurse with an associate’s degree, a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) is the necessary credential to eventually qualify to become a nurse anesthetist. These programs typically take four years to complete including clinical experience, although accelerated BSN programs are available for those who have a bachelor’s degree in another discipline already. In order to become qualified as a registered nurse, you’ll need to choose an accredited nursing program.

Become a Registered Nurse

Upon earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing, the next step is to become licensed as an RN in the state where you plan to practice as a nurse. This process varies from state to state, but is nationally governed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.. All prospective nurses must take the NCLEX-RN, commonly known as the board exam, as well as succumb to the additional requirements of their state board. These typically include continuing education requirements to maintain licensure.

Gain Work Experience

For most accredited nurse anesthetist master’s programs, you’ll first need to complete a year of acute care experience to be eligible for admission. This means that before continuing your education, you’ll need to spend a year working as a nurse in an emergency room, intensive care unit, or similar setting.

Complete a CRNA Master’s Degree Program

To become a nurse anesthetist, you must apply and get accepted to an education program that’s accredited by the¬†Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA). ¬†These programs last an average of 24 to 36 months in length and constitute at least a master’s degree, with some doctoral degree programs available.

Become Licensed as a CRNA

To begin practicing as a nurse anesthetist, you must first pass the national certification exam given by the Council on Certification of Nurse Anesthetists. After receiving a passing grade on this test, you can follow the process of becoming licensed in the state where you plan to practice. After becoming a CRNA, you must get recertified every two years by maintaining continuing education and other requirements.

Related Resource: Nurse Educator

While this process may seem complex, nurse anesthesia is an exceptionally well-paying field that offers flexibility as well as a challenging career, particularly for those who are interested in medicine but do not plan to enter medical school. To learn more about the role of a CRNA and how to become a nurse anesthesiologist, visit the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists.