How to Become a CRNA
A certified registered nurse anesthetist holds one of the highest positions in nursing, just because of how specialized this career is. Learning how to become a nurse anesthetist could lead you to a variety of rewarding career opportunities, but you have to be willing to devote six years or more to your education. Otherwise, you may want to look into a different area of the nursing field. The guide below explains how to become a CRNA so you can see the education and training you will have to go through to be a part of this career.
Step 1 – Determine If This Is the Right Career for You
Before you can learn how to become a CRNA, you need to figure out if this is the right career for you. Qualities of a good CRNA include:
- An in-depth knowledge of anesthesia
- Quick thinking skills
- The ability to adapt easily to a new situation
- An interest in the medical field
- The compassion needed to help other people
As a CRNA, you will have to be able to respond to the needs of patients under your care, which may require split second reactions and last minute anesthesia changes. You may not have quite as much responsibility as a doctor in this field, but you will have to handle more work than most nurses do. Nurse anesthetists often work long hours, and they have to work under incredibly stressful environments. If you can’t handle the thought of literally having someone’s life in your hands, this is not the career for you.
Step 2 – Get an Education
If you have analyzed the career fully and decided to become a CRNA, you will need to start with a college education. This will involve a full undergraduate degree and a master’s degree, which will take about six years in total to complete. During that time, you will pass through the following degree programs:
- Diploma in Nursing (DN)
- Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN)
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
- Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
You can potentially begin work as soon as you have your ADN, but you could also decide to devote your efforts to your degree program until completing your master’s degree. You may not encounter much information about anesthesia until you reach grad school, but then you will get an in depth view of the field. You will take courses related to anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, and other sciences, on top of your core curriculum. Once you complete your degree program, you will have all the training you need to begin work as a CRNA.
Step 3 – Pass a Licensure Exam
You cannot start working as a CRNA until you pass an exam that tests your knowledge and abilities. You will need to go through the National Certification Examination for Nurse Anesthetists, and you will need to potentially go through a few other certification programs related to your state requirements. Every state is a little different, so try contacting the nursing board in your area for more information on what you will need to do before you begin your career.
Step 4 – Gain Work Experience
You can start working as a nurse as soon as you get your BSN. You just need to pass a test to become a registered nurse. Most employers will want to see at least a year of experience as an RN before hiring you as a CRNA. If you go through your master’s degree program while working as an RN, you can actually begin work in anesthesia after you get your MSN. Otherwise you will need to spend a year in the field after you graduate before you can work as a nurse anesthetist.
Step 5 – Find a Job
With all of your training and work experience in place, the only thing left to do is to find a job. There is a high demand for nurse anesthetists at the moment, but there is also a lot of competitions in this field. Thus you will need to make sure that you have all the credentials you need to begin work in this career. You can work in a hospital, clinic, or other health care facility as long as there is an opening for a CRNA. Now that you know how to become a CRNA, the only thing left to do is get started on your journey.