How to Become a Nurse Anesthetist
In order to become a nurse anesthetist, you must have a bachelor's degree in nursing. There are three ways to become an RN: an associate's degree, a diploma program, and a bachelor's degree. Even if you have an associate's degree and have been an RN for decades, you still need a bachelor's degree to become a nurse anesthetist. There are programs available online and colleges around the country that offer you a transition from an RN to a BSN (bachelor of nursing). You may find that your current employer will help with tuition costs. That can make this transition financially easier.
You will need experience in acute care situations. Nurse anesthetists need to understand how to handle immediate medical situations. That requirement is very important. So important, in fact, many masters programs require this experience before accepting a student into their programs for nurse anesthetists. They expect at least one year of experience, but prefer more if you have it. If you have not worked in an acute care situation for awhile, then transition into this area before you apply for the next stage of this progression.
You will need to complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program that offers the nurse anesthetist option. You will need to attend classes on campus in order to become part of such a program. Dealing with anesthetic drugs is not something you can do with online classes. There is a growing demand for nurse anesthetists. This demand is driving many nursing schools to offer this option to its students. It is important to find a school close to home in which you feel comfortable. These programs can take two to three years to complete. During that time, you will learn about anesthetic drugs, anesthesia administration, and advanced anatomy surrounding anesthesia. Students also complete supervised work under other nurse anesthetists and anesthesia doctors.
Finally, you will need to complete the certification exam. The National Board of Certification & Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists is the one that provides the exam. In order to qualify to take the exam, you need to complete a program accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational programs. You need to be a licensed registered nurse in your state. After passing the exam, you will have the certification you need to become a nurse anesthetist. The final step is obtaining your state licensure. The requirements for that license will vary from state to state.