Best Online CRNA Programs

September 23, 2021

reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Best Online CRNA Programs

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The Ultimate Guide to CRNA Programs

Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) administer anesthesia and nursing care to patients. These advanced practice registered nurses also offer pain management, care during medical procedures, and emergency services. These professionals may work independently or in collaboration with doctors. CRNAs often work in medical facilities, such as doctors' offices and hospitals.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a high job growth rate of 45% for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners from 2020-2030. The following sections introduce online CRNA programs, which prepare graduates for the high-demand career path. This guide explores nursing degree paths, curricula, and accreditation. Other topics include CRNA salaries and professional certifications.

Earning Your Nurse Anesthetist Degree Online

Aspiring CRNAs can pursue an online degree. Most online nurse anesthetist programs feature the same curriculum and accreditation status as the school's on-campus program. The strong job growth projections for nurse anesthetists drive many students to pursue CRNA degrees online.

Working professionals also often choose online CRNA programs. Distance programs offer greater flexibility and lower costs than on-campus options. Online programs may feature asynchronous classes. This class format allows students to watch lectures and complete assignments on their schedule. But online nurse anesthetist programs include in-person clinical rotations. Online students typically complete these requirements at local healthcare facilities.

Working nurses may choose online CRNA programs to continue earning an income while in school. Most online CRNA programs cost less than on-campus programs. Schools often waive campus fees and charge lower tuition rates for distance learners. Online students may also save on transportation and housing.

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Featured Online Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Online CRNA Programs by Degree Level

CRNAs typically need to complete BSN and MSN programs accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs. Some CRNAs also hold a doctorate of nursing practice or a doctorate of nursing anesthesia practice.

Bachelor's

Nurses often pursue a BSN to advance professionally. Most BSN degrees require about 120 credits, including about 60 general education credits. Most BSN programs require four years to finish. But students may complete accelerated programs sooner. Learners with transfer credits or nursing experience may also graduate faster.

Licensed vocational nurses, licensed practical nurses, and registered nurses can pursue LPN-to-BSN or RN-to-BSN programs. Degree-seekers complete classroom learning and hands-on clinical experiences. Coursework explores pathophysiology, microbiology, and tested practice methods. Many online BSN programs allow enrollees to complete clinical experiences locally. Some programs, however, require on-campus residencies.

Master's

BSN-holders often complete BSN-to-MSN programs to qualify for CRNA positions. People without a BSN can pursue direct-entry MSN programs. Associate degree-holders may enroll in ASN-to-MSN programs. Program requirements vary by degree type. The student's prior experience and education also impact graduation requirements. However, most MSN programs take 2-3 years to complete.

Aspiring nursing practitioners, researchers, and administrators may consider online MSN programs. Curricula vary by specialization. Possible concentrations include certified registered nurse anesthetist, nurse educator, and clinical nurse leader. Most online MSN degree-seekers complete clinical hours at local healthcare facilities.

Doctorate

Some CRNAs pursue DNAP degrees. These professional practice programs prepare learners for roles in clinical practice, administration, and education. CRNAs can also pursue a general DNP to advance their career. DNP curricula align with American Association of Colleges of Nursing standards.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center accredits DNP programs. DNAP programs can earn accreditation from the Nurse Anesthetists Council of Accreditation. Most nursing doctoral programs take about four years to complete, but the student's prior education impacts graduation time. Distance learners often fulfill clinical requirements at local facilities. Some online nurse anesthetist programs require on-campus residencies.

Continuing Education

Nurses pursue continuing education (CE) to gain up-to-date knowledge, skills, and credentials. Nurses must complete CE to renew their state license. These requirements vary by state. To maintain national CNRA certification, CRNAs complete 60 CE credits and 40 professional credits every four years.

Online CRNA Coursework

Online nurse anesthetist programs usually need several years of coursework beyond MSN requirements. Learners take advanced courses in pathophysiology and clinical pharmacology. Curricula explore anesthesiology principles and practice for various patient populations. Enrollees learn how to plan and propose nursing research projects. The courses below appear in many online CRNA programs.

Nurse Anesthetist Program Accreditation

Accreditation demonstrates educational quality. Accrediting agencies evaluate programs and institutions based on factors including academic rigor and resources. Prospective students can choose an accredited school to protect themselves from false advertising and predatory institutions.

Learners at unaccredited institutions cannot qualify for federal financial aid. Degrees from unaccredited schools do not generally transfer to accredited schools.

To ensure their degree will hold value, aspiring CRNAs should choose an accredited online nurse anesthetist program. Prospective nursing students should also consider program-quality indicators such as graduates' pass rates on licensure certification exams. The following organizations accredit CRNA programs.

The Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognize this organization. The council accredits nurse anesthesia institutions and programs. The ACEN accredits nursing education and practice programs at all levels. The oldest nursing education accreditor, this ED- and CHEA-recognized agency sets standards and ensures quality. This accrediting agency evaluates program integrity and quality. CCNE accredits bachelor's, graduate, and residency nursing programs. The NLN is the nation's first nursing organization. It has served nursing educators since 1893. The organization evaluates nursing programs through a values-driven accreditation process.

Getting There: Your Path to Becoming a CRNA

Becoming a CRNA takes many years. Aspiring CRNAs begin by earning a bachelor's in nursing, which takes four years to complete. Graduates then pursue a registered nurse license. Licensure candidates must pass the NCLEX-RN exam.

Graduate-level nursing program applicants need at least one year of ICU or ER experience. Aspiring CRNAs complete either a two-year MSN program or a four-year DNAP program. Graduation time varies by program and enrollment status.

Graduate degree-holders can take the CRNA certification exam. The steps to becoming a CRNA vary based on the candidate's experience and career goals. The table below outlines a common path to becoming a CRNA.

Path to Becoming a CRNA
Tasks Time to Complete
Step 1: Complete a BSN degree in nursing and pass the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. 4 years
Step 2: Accrue at least one year of acute care experience in an ER or ICU environment. 1-2 years
Step 3: Earn a graduate degree (MSN or DNAP) from an accredited nurse anesthesia program. 2-4 years
Step 4: Take the CRNA certification exam. Eligible upon passing the exam

How Much Do CRNAs Make?

A CRNA's salary potential depends on their credentials, experience, and employer. According to BLS data, nurse anesthetists, practitioners, and midwives earn a median annual salary of $117,670. The BLS projects employment for these professionals to increase 45% from 2020-2030. This projection is about five times the average projected growth rate for all occupations.

Nurse anesthetists earn a median salary of $183,580 per year. Nurse practitioners and midwives earn median annual salaries of $111,680 and $111,130, respectively. According to BLS data, hospitals and outpatient care centers pay higher salaries than health practitioner offices.

According to the BLS, the states below have the highest employment levels for nurse anesthetists as of 2020.

  1. Florida - $176,760
  2. Texas - $180,380
  3. Ohio - $190,120
  4. North Carolina - $192,830
  5. Michigan - $199,870

The following list highlights the top-paying states for nurse anesthetists as of 2020.

  1. Oregon - $236,540
  2. Wisconsin - $231,520
  3. Wyoming - $231,250
  4. Nevada - $223,680
  5. Connecticut - $217,360

Nurse Anesthetist Licenses and Certifications

Like other nurses, CRNAs need licensure to practice. Nursing boards grant licensure to applicants who meet educational and experience requirements. Candidates must also pass a state licensure examination and earn national certification. Most states require CRNAs to hold an advanced practice registered nurse license.

Licensure requirements vary by state. Aspiring CRNAs should consult their state's nursing board. CRNAs in Pennsylvania and New York only need an RN license and national certification.

The National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) administers the national nursing certification examination.

National and State Licenses

TheNational Council of State Boards of Nursing oversees the state licensure process for nurses, including CRNAs. State nursing boards set rules and regulations to ensure compliance with the state's nurse practice act. Most CRNAs must hold APRN licensure from their state board. CRNAs also need NBCRNA certification.

National Certification Exam for Nurse Anesthetists

The NBCRNA's national certification exam evaluates competency of entry-level nurse anesthetist practices. The computer-adaptive test requires nursing knowledge and skills. Passing results qualify candidates for national nurse anesthetist certification.

NCE Recertification

CNRAs must renew their professional certifications every four years. The first recertification requires 60 continuing education credits and 40 professional activity credits. Every eight years, CRNAs complete the online Continued Professional Certification Assessment.

Explore Similar Online Nursing Programs

Many working nurses pursue degrees online. Learners may qualify for online LVN or LPN, RN, or LPN-to-BSN programs depending on prior coursework. Curricula vary, but most undergraduate nursing programs focus on practical knowledge and skills for patient care. A BSN typically qualifies graduates for RN licensure and graduate programs. A nursing degree can lead to increased salary potential, career transitions, and promotions.

These programs fulfill educational requirements for registered nurse licensure. Participants learn how to perform health assessments. Students also apply patient care principles and practices. RN programs prepare enrollees for MSN and CRNA programs. These programs can help LPNs become RNs. These programs usually require 2-3 years, depending on the student's prior coursework. LPN-to-BSN curricula include practical training. Learners complete coursework on nursing research and evidence-based practice. Many vocational schools offer one-year LPN or LVN programs. Coursework focuses on practical nursing basics. These programs feature introductory coursework on topics such as anatomy and physiology. Learners may also study restorative nursing care.

Additional Resources for Nurse Anesthetists

The following resources include professional and nonprofit organizations. These organizations award accreditation, set career preparation standards, and provide continuing education programs. Licensed nurse anesthetists often benefit from these resources.

The Top Online CRNA Programs

Clarkson College View School Profile Omaha, NE Unconfirmed
Barry University View School Profile Miami, FL Unconfirmed
Virginia Commonwealth University View School Profile Richmond, VA Unconfirmed

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