CRNAs at a Glance

Nurse Anesthesia; no longer the best kept secret in health care.

Established in the late 1800′s as the first clinical nursing specialty, nurse anesthesia developed in response to the growing need surgeons had for anesthetists. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), and the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), have played significant roles in developing the practice of anesthesia. Today, more than 27,000 CRNAs provide cost-effective, quality patient care that is essential to America’s health care system.

Meeting the needs of tomorrow

CRNAs have a proud history of meeting the challenges of changing health care trends. The recent acceleration of managed health care services will provide additional opportunities and new challenges for these advanced practice nurses. CRNAs will continue to be recognized as anesthesia specialists providing safe patient care.

How do CRNAs impact health care?

As anesthesia specialists, CRNAs administer approximately 65% of the 26 million anesthetics given to patients in the U.S. each year. As advanced practice nurses, CRNAs can serve in a variety of capacities in their daily practice, such as clinician, educator, administrator, manager and researcher.

  • CRNAs administer anesthesia for all types of surgical cases, using all anesthetic techniques and practice in every setting in which anesthesia is delivered, from university-based medical centers to free-standing surgical facilities.
  • CRNA’s are the sole anesthesia providers in more than 70% of rural hospitals in the United States, affording some 70 million rural Americans access to anesthesia. CRNAs provide a significant amount of the anesthesia in inner cities as well.
  • CRNA’s are qualified and permitted by state law or regulations to practice in every state of the nation.
  • CRNA’s provide safe, effective anesthesia services for millions of patients each year.

Basic requirements for CRNAs?

The education and experience required to become a CRNA include:

  • A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or other appropriate baccalaureate degree.
  • A current license as a registered nurse.
  • At least one year’s experience in an acute care nursing setting.
  • Graduation from an accredited school of nurse anesthesia educational program ranging from 24-36 months, depending upon university requirements. These programs offer a graduate degree and include clinical training in university-based or large community hospitals.
  • Pass a national certification examination following graduation, and complete a continuing education and recertification program every two years thereafter.


Information for this page was obtained from American Association of Nurse Anesthetist (AANA).