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Going Back To School for CRNA: What’s the Latest?

Celebrating CRNA Week 2022!

These days it seems like everyone is going back to school to be a CRNA. Every time we turn around a new coworker or friend has been accepted into a CRNA program and is beginning their journey to continue their education. Have you ever thought about going back, too? Well if you have, you’re not the only one. At some point or another, we have all at least thought about it even if we never acted on it. 

But what’s the deal? Is everyone going back to school and if so, are there going to be jobs left in five or ten years if I decide to go? You may be asking yourself these questions lately and since it is CRNA week, now is as good of a time as any to answer them! Let’s dive into the latest climate of CRNA school. 

Becoming a CRNA

We have previously done a guide on becoming a CRNA and what the job entails, but here’s a quick reminder. CRNA stands for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist and they are responsible for placing and monitoring patients under anesthesia for pain management, surgeries, and procedures. 

In order to become a CRNA, after getting your RN license, you have to go back for 1-4 years depending on the program and your current education to complete additional classroom and hands-on education as well as take a licensure exam.  

Taking on CRNA school is no easy feat, so why does it seem like everyone you know is going for it? Well, the motivation behind every nurse that decides to go back to school is different, but a couple of factors might be the increase in salary over bedside nursing, the desire to get away from traditional bedside nursing, or simply gaining new skills and independence as a nurse.

How Many Nurses Are Going To CRNA School

As of 2020, according to BLS.gov, there were just under 42,000 Nurse Anesthetists in the United States. Of course, that is the culmination of new grads and veterans, so how many were just new grads? There were actually over 2,500 newly certified Nurse Anesthetists that entered the field in 2020. 

Not only did over 2,500 pass their certification exams in 2020, but more than 3,000 also entered one of the 124 accredited Nurse Anesthesia Programs in the United States and another 4,000 are still working on their degree. 

To put it in perspective, there are almost 3 million registered nurses in the United States, so only approximately 0.1% went back to school in 2020. That means when you break it down, even though it seems like it, not everyone is going back to school to be a CRNA, though the numbers are increasing every year.

Is CRNA School Competitive? 

Though only a fraction of nurses is going back to CRNA school, many CRNA schools are still highly competitive. Most CRNA programs have strict entrance requirements such as a 3.0 GPA, at least 1-2 years of bedside experience, GRE score requirements and more. 

They also only have a specific number of spots more than double the amount of applicants in every cycle. For instance, if a program only has 100 spots available, they may receive 500 or even more applications for those spots, making it highly competitive to get in. Much of the competition has to do with the limited number of CRNA programs. 

As we mentioned, there are only 124 accredited programs for Nurse Anesthetists which when compared to the number of basic RN programs which was already over 1,800 and climbing in 2014, there are minimal programs for this specialty. 

The Future of CRNA’s

Though the number of graduates and applicants is increasing each year, the future of CRNA’s looks bright. According to bls.gov, the profession is expected to grow 45% between 2020 and 2030 which is much faster than average. There are projected to be a little less than 30,000 job openings each year for doctorate-level nursing including CRNAs, which is great news for those wanting to go back to school. 

Are you thinking of going back to school to be a CRNA? Talk to CRNA’s around you and while you’re at it, thank them for everything they do this CRNA week! 

From all of us here at Capsol, happy CRNA Week 2021! 

Katelyn Johnson

Katelyn Johnson

Author

Katelyn has a Master’s in Healthcare Administration and five years of clinical experience. She has made the shift to full-time freelance writing and enjoys covering topics on nursing careers, lifestyle, and community. Her goal is to help start a conversation and spread awareness around the many ups and downs of the healthcare field.

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