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What Is a CRNA and How to Become One

What Is a CRNA?

A CRNA, or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, is an experienced registered nurse who has completed additional training to administer anesthesia. CRNAs perform similar job duties as anesthesiologists, except they work as part of the surgical team under the direction of a licensed surgical doctor or group of doctors. As a CRNA, you administer local and general anesthesia, epidural, and nerve blocks. You also help patients with pain management before, during, and after their surgery. Other job duties include speaking to the patient to explain the procedure, preparing and administering the proper anesthesia, recording vital signs during the procedure, and monitoring the patient through recovery.

How Do You Become a CRNA?

To become a CRNA, or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, you need a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) as well as a master’s degree in nursing (MSN) with specialized training in the use of anesthesia. You may also want to become a licensed advanced practicing nurse or nurse practitioner, which enables you to do many of the same duties as doctors. A rigorous academic course of study as well as hands-on clinical work in a hospital, clinic, or private practice are both required to meet state licensing requirements. Once you have completed an accredited program for CRNAs, you must pass the National Certification Exam (NCE) administered by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA). To maintain certification, nurse anesthetists must take at least forty hours of continuing education courses.