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The Road to Becoming a CRNA

12.17.2015 | By: Texas Wesleyan University
Assistant Professor of Nurse Anesthesia William Johnson teaching a lesson in the simulation lab.

Becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist requires intense focus and dedication, to both your studies and your trade. It’s not the kind of career that is built overnight. While the path to becoming a CRNA may seem long, it can be a highly rewarding and exciting journey.

So, what does the road to becoming a CRNA look like?

Undergraduate Degree

The foundation of your CRNA career is your undergraduate degree. Each CRNA school has its own undergraduate degree requirements. A CRNA program within a nursing school will probably require a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). However, a CRNA program that is not part of a nursing school may not require a BSN. Texas Wesleyan does not require a BSN.  

An accredited registered nurse program may have several options for students to qualify to sit for the RN board exam, including routes that require getting an associate degree or bachelor’s degree.  

After becoming an RN, a bachelor’s degree in any discipline will meet the educational requirements for Texas Wesleyan’s CRNA program. While a bachelor’s degree in music still qualifies, to be competitive, select a bachelor’s degree focused on healthcare and perform above average in science and math.

A word of caution ­– not just any nursing undergraduate degree will qualify for all CRNA programs. For example, Texas Wesleyan’s CRNA program will not accept degrees from schools with a non-traditional pass/fail grading systems and requires clinical training to be part of the applicant’s degree program. Do your research, before starting any program.

Pass RN Board Exam

Once you’ve completed the necessary requirements, you’ll need to pass your nursing boards. Passing means that you will have earned your nursing license, and that you are one step closer to calling yourself a CRNA!

Spend One Year Working in Critical Care

While education is important to becoming a CRNA, on-the-job experience is vital. Future CRNAs are required to spend a year working in critical or acute care in order to apply to a CRNA program. This step is important as it allows you to work with real patients as you monitor, evaluate and learn. CRNAs are expected to use this year to develop critical thinking skills and their ability to think independently. Learn more about Texas Wesleyan’s critical care requirements.

Apply to CRNA School

With critical care experience under your belt, you’ll want to start considering which CRNA program works best for your schedule, goals and budget. At Texas Wesleyan, our Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia program is a full-time program which takes 28 months to complete. Like many programs, ours is extremely competitive, and has a clear set of requirements for applicants, including:

  1. Bachelor's degree from a fully-accredited college or university
  2. 3.0+ GPA
  3. A college-level chemistry course completed within three years of your program start date
  4. Current RN license that is valid within any U.S. state or territory
  5. Minimum of one year of full-time critical care experience
  6. Current ACLS certification
  7. Current PALS certification

Complete 28 Months of Study and Clinicals

At Texas Wesleyan, our Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia program is split in to two phases.  During phase I, you’ll complete the majority of your academic work. Classes cover a variety of topics, from advanced pharmacology to advanced anatomy. In phase II, most of your time will be spent earning clinical experience. Your clinical rotations will typically be one to two months long. Texas Wesleyan CRNA students can expect to see 700-1,000 cases in phase II during their 16 months of clinical experience. Here’s an example of the Texas Wesleyan degree plan.

Pass Your CRNA Board Exam

After earning your master’s degree, you’ll have one last hurdle ­– your CRNA board exam. The exam will test your knowledge and skills in all areas of nurse anesthesia, and is required to become a CRNA. Texas Wesleyan has a pass rate above the national average.

With a passing score on your CRNA board exam, there will only be one thing left to do – apply for your first job as a CRNA. The path isn’t simple, but for the proud few able to call themselves CRNAs, it is certainly worth it. Learn more about our Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia program.

Our MSNA degree places you on the path to becoming a CRNA. Apply today.

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