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Nurse Anesthetist Job Description

A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) provides patients with pain-blocking medications during surgery. Nurse anesthetists administer the anesthesia for half of the surgical interventions performed in the United States each year. They comprise part of the anesthesia care team in the operating room and work closely with doctors and other nurses. In addition, nurse anesthetists spend time consulting with patients and their families before surgery, and afterward, they compile reports about their part in the procedure.

Nurse Anesthetist Duties

  • Perform anesthetic evaluation of patient
  • Organize an anesthetic plan
  • Obtain anesthetic drugs
  • Manage anesthesia during surgery
  • Perform post-surgical evaluation
  • Complete administrative tasks

Related Professions

Nurse anesthetist and anesthesiologists are different professions. A CRNA has many of the same duties as an anesthesiologist, who is an MD; both administer anesthesia in exactly the same way. However, in some states, the work of nurse anesthetists must be supervised. The supervisor may be any medical doctor. Those medical workers in the similar role of an anesthetist assistant (AA) must be supervised by an anesthesiologist. A nurse anesthetist may specialize in a particular field of medicine, and so may bear a specialized title: obstetric nurse anesthetist, for example.

How To Become A Nurse Anesthetist

A nurse anesthetist is an advanced practice nurse. She enters the graduate program as an RN, earns a master’s degree in nursing, then spends a year performing clinical practice. Passing an exam grants her the credential of CRNA.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Nurse Anesthetist?

From the beginning of undergraduate nursing studies to graduate school, and then to the year of required clinical practice, it takes seven to eight years to become a fully certified and licensed nurse anesthetist.

Education Requirements

The first step toward becoming a nurse anesthetist is earning a bachelor’s degree as a nurse, which takes around four years. Some accredited nurse anesthetist programs will accept a student with a two-year licensed practical nurse (LPN) degree, but only if she has also earned a bachelor’s degree in another field. Nurse anesthetist programs are very selective about grades and work experience, and competition for entry can be intense.
The graduate study required to earn a master’s of nursing (MSN) with a nurse anesthetist specialization takes around two years. Common courses include anesthetic practice, pharmacology, and anatomy. A year of clinical experience in an acute care setting is another component of nurse anesthetist education.
While an MSN is the current entry-level degree for nurse anesthetists, within the next decade it will be supplanted by the doctoral degree. The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) for nurse anesthetists focuses on practice, includes a very rigorous and specific curriculum, and takes two further years to finish.


When a graduate from an accredited nurse anesthetist program passes the national exam administered by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), she has earned her certification as a CRNA. All states except for Michigan require that nurse anesthetists be certified in order to practice.


Licensure for nurses, including advanced practice nurses (APRNs) such as nurse anesthetists, is regulated by the board of nursing within each state. Some states, such as New York, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, have no licensing requirements specific to CRNAs. However, most states have some sort of authorization process, which could include licensure, state certification, or registration. Because the requirements for licensing vary so widely, check with the state board of nursing for exact details.

Job Outlook

Over the next decade, jobs for nurse anesthetists are expected to increase by 19 percent. To keep up with demand, the numbers of nurse anesthetist programs is growing as well. Increasingly, states are doing away with the requirement that CRNAs be supervised by doctors, making these advanced practice nurses very appealing and versatile employees. Over 80 percent of nurse anesthetists work in large cities, where the job market is competitive and pay is highest. However, in many rural locations, nurse anesthetists, rather than anesthesiologists, are responsible for anesthesia for nearly all surgical interventions. Detailed Nurse Anesthetist salary data is available here.

States With Highest Employment Levels

State Hourly mean Wage Annual mean salary # Employed Employment/1000 jobs
Texas $79.99 $166,380 3,580 0.34
North Carolina $78.11 $162,470 2,090 0.54
Pennsylvania $83.08 $172,810 2,050 0.37
Tennessee $67.94 $141,320 2,020 0.76
Virginia $68.11 $141,680 1,890 0.52


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