When I tell people I’m a CRNA, they always ask me one of two top questions. These questions are: how many years to become a nurse anesthetist or how many years does it take to become a nurse anesthetist? The answer is not so straight forward because becoming a CRNA takes a lot of planning for your undergrad studies, job experience as well as anesthesia school years. In this article, I’ll explain thoroughly the total years of commitment needed to be a CRNA from the time you step out of high school to the CRNA school length to the day you attend your CRNA graduation with a job offer at hand.
The first requirement to be accepted into CRNA school is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Nearly all CRNA schools require this. In general, a BSN degree usually takes up to four years to complete at traditional universities and usually includes both liberal arts classes as well as nursing related coursework. Once you complete your BSN degree, you take the NCLEX exam to become an RN. Note the subtle difference: You do not need a BSN to become a RN, because you can become an RN through an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) degree. However, in order to get into CRNA school, you need a BSN degree.
Exceptions to a BSN
First, if you have a Masters of Nursing or DNP in another medical field, those are considered acceptable for almost all CRNA schools.
Second, if you are an RN with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), you can apply for ‘RN to BSN programs’ to obtain your BSN degree. This is a topic to discuss another time for those interested.
Third, there are 37 CRNA schools that accept a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree if you also have an Associates Degree in Nursing. ADN degree typically takes 24 months under normal programs. Nonetheless, some schools allow you to leverage your BS degree to get a BSN degree in 18 months under an accelerated program.
Critical Care Job Experience is Required Before Your Nurse Anesthetist Schooling Years
After getting your BSN degree, you’ll have to fulfill the job experience requirement. All CRNA schools require minimum 1 year of Critical Care Experience as a requirement before applying. Some schools are even more strict and require 1.5 years or 2 years. We recommend getting 1-2 years of experience at a large Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at a hospital, especially in a Level 1 trauma center. The reason CRNA schools require critical care job experience is so all CRNA students coming in have real world experience as a foundation for their studies.
The following CRNA schools require 1.5 years of Critical Care job experience
The following CRNA schools require 2 years of Critical Care job experience
- Quinnipiac CRNA Program
- Georgetown CRNA
- UM CRNA Program
- UNF CRNA
- USF CRNA Program
- NorthShore CRNA
- Murray State CRNA
- University of Minnesota CRNA
- Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes
- Albany Medical College CRNA Program
- Cleveland Clinic CRNA Program
- Drexel CRNA
- UPMC Hamot
- UPenn CRNA
- UTC CRNA
All other CRNA schools not listed here require only 1 year of Critical care experience prior to your nurse anesthetist schooling years.
CRNA Years of School
Currently, the anesthesia school years requirement is 3 years or 36 months to receive a Doctor of Nursing degree (DNP). You need this degree in order to become a nurse anesthetist. So to become a CRNA, you will need 3 CRNA years of school.
Previously, the minimum amount of anesthesia school years required to be a CRNA was only 2 years. This is because before, most CRNA schools offered Masters of Nursing programs that allowed you to get a CRNA degree in 24 to 30 months. However, back in 2007, the AANA voted to require all CRNAs to get Doctors (DNP) degrees rather than Master of Science in Nursing Degrees (MSN). This change was quite dramatic and the reason was due to medical error complaints as well as the increasing complexity of healthcare delivery and systems. Due to this law change, all CRNA schools need to follow the DNP 3 anesthesia school years requirement by 2025.
This year was the first year that almost all CRNA schools have started implementing this program for the 2021 academic year. All current CRNAs with masters degrees prior to 2025 will be grand fathered in and will not have to get doctorate degrees to continue practicing. However, as stated, the CRNA school length is now 36 months for all new graduates.
The following CRNA schools are the last remaining schools to offer CRNA Masters of Nursing (MSN) degrees for the 2021 year. After this, all CRNA schools will be DNP degrees.
The CRNA school length for these MSN degree schools is 24 to 30 months.
- Samuel Merritt CRNA
- Wake Forest CRNA
- UPMC Hamot
- Inter American University
- University of Puerto Rico
- Saint Joseph Hospital
- Westminster CRNA
I strongly believe that the current shortage of nurse anesthetists will worsen with the degree requirement change and this will result in the CRNA starting salary and overall CRNA salary to increase in the years to come.
Anesthesia School Years
We list out all CRNA Schools in the United States with detail on the CRNA program offered (MSN or DNP) and the number of months the program lasts. All the CRNA programs have been approved by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs. Please click on the CRNA School name for more detailed information on the selected CRNA School.
In terms of CRNA degrees offered, MS, MSN and MSNA are Master of Science in Nursing Anesthesia programs. DNP, DNPA, DNPNA are Doctor of Nursing Practice of Nurse Anesthesia programs.
Top CRNA Schools
We spent hundreds of hours studying all CRNA schools and interviewing over 125 nurse anesthetists to create our exclusive list of Best CRNA Schools. So now you know Anesthesia school years, your next research is to compare the Best CRNA programs with the CRNA School length in order to see which CRNA schools are the best fit and which programs you should apply to.
Map of CRNA Schools by State
After studying Anesthesia School Years, we also list out all CRNA programs by State in the map below for your further research and study.
The darker the blue color equivocates to more CRNA Schools in the State.
Tier 1 = 6 or more CRNA Schools
2nd Tier = 3 to 5 CRNA Schools
Tier 3 = 1 or 2 CRNA Schools
White means no CRNA schools in the State.
Data source: everythingCRNA
Nurse Anesthetist Salary
As you’re interested in anesthesia school years, be sure to check out our CRNA Salary Guide and CRNA Starting Salary. If you are still a student or if you’re wondering how much a fresh CRNA can make right out of nurse anesthesia school, this information will be especially helpful. You might be surprised too! We spent hundreds of hours researching salary information from the BLS, the AANA CRNA survey from over 5,000 actual nurse anesthetists as well as from my own CRNA job offers after I graduated. In addition, different states have different demand and supply economics for nurse anesthetists, so our CRNA Salary by State Guide will help you see which States are the best fit for you.
Anesthesia School Years Conclusion
So, how many years of school to be a nurse anesthetist? If you plan your CRNA career well, your total nurse anesthetist schooling years will include:
- 4 Years in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program
- 1-2 years experience in an ICU
- 3 CRNA years of school
If you play your cards right, it will take you a minimum of 8 years of school and experience in order to become a CRNA.