Nurse Anesthetist PhD and Graduate Programs

CRNA programs are master's degree-level programs and are designed for registered nurses who meet certain criteria outlined by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists. If you are already a CRNA and want to further your educational career, you may consider enrolling in a nurse anesthetist graduate program and working towards a CRNA PhD. Nurse Anesthetist PhD programs are designed for nurses who want to work in the field of research or teach nurse anesthetist training course at a college or university.

What Are CRNA Graduate Programs?

CRNA graduate programs are typically offered by colleges and universities that have nursing schools and medical research centers on site. CRNAs may be eligible to apply for a Doctor of Nursing program (DNP) and specialize in the field of anesthesia. These doctoral degrees typically take between four to six years to complete, and require a significant time commitment. Enrolling in CRNA graduate programs can lead to attractive job opportunities throughout your career, and also put you in a position to take leadership roles or teach nursing science and nurse anesthesia practices to aspiring CRNAs in the future.

Nurse Anesthetist Graduate Program Requirements

The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) has issued a formal statement about its position on doctoral education. The AANA states, "The AANA supports doctoral education for entry into nurse anesthesia practice by 2025." The America Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) encourages advanced practice nurses and nurse anesthetists to earn a doctorate degree and work towards a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). CRNA PhD programs and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs with an emphasis on anesthesiology are only available at a select number of top ranking schools around the United States. Most of these programs last several years and may have residency requirements.

Getting a CRNA PhD

In order to get a CRNA PhD, you will need to have a bachelor's in nursing (BSN) and have completed all CRNA requirements at the school or university you are interested in studying at. Many students pursue a master's in nursing (MSN) before considering a CRNA PhD. Nurse anesthetist graduate programs build upon the skills and knowledge learned during the standard CRNA program, and prepare students for a career in research, data analysis, philosophy of nursing science and leadership roles.

Many candidates enrolled in a CRNA PhD program are interested in serving as professors or associate professors in a university's department of anesthesiology or nursing. They are less likely to take an active role as a nurse anesthetist and will work in research centers or take part in a more comprehensive study of the role of nurse anesthesia in society.

Having a CRNA PhD is not the standard requirement to practice as a nurse anesthetist. Today's certified registered nurse anesthetists typically have either a bachelor's in nursing (BSN) and relevant work experience, or a master's in nursing (MSN) and several years of training in the field. CRNA graduate programs at the PhD level are designed for students who want to enter the research field.