Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists / CRNA Nurse

Nurse anesthetists have been delivering anesthesia care within the United States for practically 150 years. According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, nurse anesthetists are the earliest nurse specialty sector in the United States.

Job Description:

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, or CRNA's, include some of the most sophisticated and highest paid of almost all nurses. CRNA's administer anesthesia throughout surgery, when an anesthesiologist doctor is not available to do so. In fact, CRNA's essentially predate anesthesiologists (physicians who administer anesthesiology).
Most CRNA's are asked to work in hospitals, and perform in a surgical environment, such as an operating area. CRNA's also may function in outpatient surgery centers and medical workplaces. According to the American Nurses Association, CRNA's are accountable for delivering over 65% of all anesthetics given to patients in the US. There are more than 30,000 CRNA's practicing in the US, and just over half of them are men, primarily based on information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the ANA. Back to top

Education Requirements:

Similar to all other advanced nursing degrees, CRNA's should first earn an education as a registered nurse (RN). Consequently they must have a bachelor's degree in nursing or other relevant field, and be a licensed RN by passing the NCLEX-RN, the national licensing exam. After they are licensed as an RN, they must then possess at least one year of nursing practical experience before attaining admission into a graduate nurse anesthetist program, as outlined by the AANA. This also calls for completion of the GRE (graduate school admissions test). Most nurse anesthetist programs require two or three years to finish after the Bachelor degree level. Following completion of the graduate education, one must pass the national certification exam to be able to practice legitimately as a CRNA. Back to top


Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists are skilled in administering anesthesia. This career also demands higher education beyond the registered nursing education. To become a CRNA involves a masters or doctorate degree. This area is very specialized and garners the greatest pay for nurses. As a CRNA, one can easily expect to make between $137, 000 to $186,000 per year. Back to top


Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA's) are highly developed practice nurses who are certified to securely provide anesthesia care to more than 22 million surgical, obstetrical, and trauma clients each calendar year in the United States. They dispense every type of anesthetic, operate in every single type of practice environment, and provide care for every kind of operation or procedure-from open heart surgery to pain-management cases.

Some significant things to remember for those considering this CRNA profession are:
  • Professionalism. As in the other advanced professions, a high quality resume and extensive work experience track record are very helpful to this career.
  • Details and Desire. Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA's) ought to have the capability to pay close attention to detail and the motivation to help others.
  • Organization. They should also be organized, level-headed, effective listeners, and excellent record-keepers.
  • Able to handle stress. The ability to work effectively in pressure-packed scenarios is a must. It is quite advantageous if nurse anesthetists have a peaceful and reassuring demeanor, even in stressful instances.
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Job Outlook:

Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA's) have numerous good reasons to be pleased about their job prospects, both today and in the future.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, job possibilities for registered nurses in all areas are expected to be "excellent" in the next couple of years, with recruitment rates growing much quicker than the average for all occupations through 2014. They also anticipate that advanced practice nurses, who include CRNA's, will be in higher demand, specifically in medically underserved areas such as inner cities and rural locations.

The career opportunities will vary by employment setting, however. For instance, employment is anticipated to grow more slowly in hospitals, which consist of health care's largest market, but speedy growth is expected in hospital outpatient establishments, such as those providing same-day surgery, rehabilitation, and chemotherapy.

The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), which represents more than 92 percent of the 36,000 CRNA's across the country, reports that nurse anesthetists presently administer approximately 27 million anesthetics in the United States every year. Practicing in every environment where anesthesia is available, CRNA's are the sole anesthesia workers in nearly 10 percent of all health care facilities across the country, and in two-thirds of all rural medical centers.

"The employment outlook for CRNA's is excellent," according to Brent Sommer, CRNA, MPHA, a representative for the AANA and vice chair and wellness promoter for the Council for Public Interest in Anesthesia. "We also see a real broadening of opportunities in both traditional and nontraditional settings due to the law of supply and demand."

Sommer revealed that the number of surgeries in the U.S., and thus the need for more nurse anesthetists, is increasing, due in part to the country's maturing population.

"People are living longer with co-morbidities and require more interventions, monitored anesthesia care or pain management," Sommer said. "In addition to traditional surgery settings, many specialties have been able to maximize their services by moving out of the hospital, so many CRNA's are working in oral surgery, endoscopy, plastic surgery and other procedures in ambulatory or outpatient surgery centers."

While Sommer noted that the trend in many larger hospitals is toward team procedures, where they are recruiting greater numbers of CRNA's to work together with anesthesiologists and others in the surgical team, presently there are also more opportunities for nurse anesthetists to manage an independent practice. Back to top