As members of the anesthesia care team, CRNAs and CAAs provide very important assistance to anesthesiologists in treating patients before and after surgery. They provide specialized knowledge, skillful expertise, and high-quality patient care techniques to ensure the well-being of every patient.
How to Become a CRNA
Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are valued advanced practice registered nurses who provide services similar to anesthesiologists, proving anesthesia care to patients before, during, and after medical procedures in all settings where anesthesia is delivered. The path is much shorter than becoming an anesthesiologist, typically requiring seven to eight years of post-secondary schooling and training. You must become a registered nurse and continue on to complete graduate-level training.
The first step is obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a graduate degree to become licensed as a registered nurse. A GPA of 3.0 is typically required in undergraduate coursework.
Next, you will need at least one year of full-time work experience as an RN in a critical care setting.
- According to the Florida Association of Nurse Anesthetists, RNs have an average of 2.9 years of experience before entering nurse anesthesia educational programs.
After gaining this work experience, the next step is to graduate with at least a master’s degree from a nurse anesthesia program accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs. These programs can range from 24 to 42 months and give graduates an average of 8,636 hours of clinical experience.
- Here’s a look at CRNA programs in Florida.
Passing the certification examination administered by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) is required after completing schooling. The Florida Board of Nursing licenses Advanced Practice Registered Nurses.
How to Become a CAA
A career as a Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant (CAA) is highly rewarding, offering the opportunity to work under the direction of an anesthesiologist with a salary that can be competitive with a CRNA. CAAs work as part of the anesthesia care team model and perform a variety of tasks, including administering drugs, obtaining vascular access, applying and interpreting monitors, establishing and maintaining patient airway, and assisting with preoperative assessment, according to the American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants.
The first step is to obtain a bachelor’s degree with numerous premedical curriculum requirements, including biology, chemistry, physics, and calculus, and take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).
Next, you will need a Master’s of Science in Anesthesia, which will include numerous clinical rotations. This can take about 2½ years.
- There are two accredited AA educational programs in Florida: At the Nova Southeastern University campuses in Fort Lauderdale and Tampa.
- The Nova program is 27 months and consists of at least 2,500 clinical hours. Clinical rotations are full time during the senior year and include all anesthesia specialties.
After this extensive training, you will be able to take the Certifying Examination for Anesthesiologist Assistants administered by the National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants (NCCAA) in collaboration with the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME).
The inclusion of CAAs into anesthesia practice is evolving. The American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants has a map showing states where CAAs practice.