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Top 3 Online CRNA Programs & Schools

Graduates of online CRNA programs in the operating room

A CRNA, for “Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist,” is trained and experienced in the delivery of anesthesia, helping to reduce or even eliminate pain during medical procedures. Entering this career using online education is possible! To do so, you’ll need to complete one of the excellent online CRNA programs currently available from leading medical institutions.

A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is the highest level of education for people working in the nursing profession, and can be applied directly to a CRNA career.

Ultimately, online CRNA programs are designed to create leaders in nursing anesthesia, as graduates of these schools have the highest level of nursing expertise and knowledge. They are not only skilled in the direct planning and application of individual healthcare, they understand organizational leadership, health policy, and the economics of the industry, making them crucial to the longterm success of our healthcare system.

If you are currently working in the healthcare profession, particularly as a registered nurse, you’ll want to consider advancing your education by enrolling in a DNP program, particularly one that focuses on anesthesia. It will be challenging, but the reward is a career that brings excellent pay, plentiful job opportunities, and the satisfaction of knowing you are helping people avoid pain throughout important medical procedures.

Enrolling in CRNA schools is a big decision, but with the right information, you can make the best choice for your future!

Who Should Enter a DNP Nurse Anesthesia Program?

Most of these programs are intended specifically for current registered nurses working in the medical field who want to further their careers, advance their medical knowledge, and earn a larger salary while serving a specific role in the medical field. This is the highest level of education in clinical nursing, and completing online CRNA programs will help you become a leader, not only at your specific organization, but in the medical and nursing professions as a whole.

As we said, most of these programs are for current registered nurses (RNs). In fact, working as an RN is one of the prerequisites for most of these programs. If you have not worked as an RN, you’ll need to be near completion of a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN), the educational requirement for RN careers.

These degrees are made for people who are highly motivated to provide advanced nursing services in a healthcare setting. In the past, doctorate-level nursing educations largely meant pursuing a career in education. However, this is no longer the case as many professionals are working in clinics and hospitals after completing a DSN. The nature of healthcare is becoming more complex, so doctorally-educated nurses, even those focused on anesthesia, are becoming more important for both research and the direct application of healthcare. If you are motivated to become a more efficient and effective healthcare professional, a DNP could be the perfect route for your future.

Comparing the Different CRNA Degree Types

While researching the next step in your nursing career, you’ll come across many different programs and educational paths, as well as a wide variety of specialties and concentrations. You could pursue an MSN in neonatal care or you could complete a DNP with a focus on anesthesia, just to name two options.

Two types of degree programs that you should understand are “BSN to MSN” programs and “BSN to DNP” programs. Although they cover much of the same information, understanding the differences will help you make the right choice for your future.

What is BSN to MSN?

A BSN to MSN program takes you from a bachelor’s degree in nursing to a master’s education. Many nurse anesthetist schools offer this type of education, creating a fast-track to graduation so you can start earning an excellent salary quickly, usually within two years.

Most nurses have a bachelor’s of science in nursing, which is commonly called a “BSN.” They can then take their education and enter into a BSN to MSN program; once complete they will have a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, which will allow them to enter a variety of careers.

MSN degrees generally focus on a narrow specialty within the nursing profession, advancing your career by building your general knowledge about nursing while giving you an in-depth understanding of a specific focus or concentration.

MSN programs are often a fast-track path to completing your education. Online nurse anesthetist programs in particular can be useful for rapid advancement of your career, as they allow you to complete classes on a year-round basis and progress through the program at your own pace.

What is BSN to DNP?

A BSN to DNP is an educational program that takes your directly from a bachelor’s degree to a doctorate education. Many nurse anesthetist schools offer this path as part of their healthcare and nursing programs.

They are also designed for nurses who wish to become advanced practice registered nurses, and, like MSN programs, build your general nursing and medical knowledge while giving you a deep understanding in a specific area of expertise. In the case of online CRNA programs, you’ll gain a deep understanding for the science and direct application of anesthesia.

The main difference between a BSN to MSN and a BSN to DNP program is the depth and level of education. In the nursing profession, a DNP is the highest educational level you can achieve. While it won’t make you a physician, it will give you the title of “doctor,” at least in the academic sense.

Deciding Which is Right for Your Career: The Main Differences

There are a few key differences between these two types of nursing educations and CRNA schools. First off is the length of the programs. While the total amount of time it takes to complete the degree will depend on your previous education, BSN to MSN degrees usually take about 40 credit hours of study, while BSN to DNP programs require as many as 95 credit hours. (Usually closer to 70 or 80 credit hours.) When choosing online CRNA programs, you’ll want to keep these time requirements in mind, as it may impact your decision between MSN or DNP.

There is also a difference in the overall coursework for these programs. A DNP is a practice-based education, which means that DNP graduates use prior research to advance their nursing practice. The classes will have a deeper focus on science-based theories to create a better understanding for the nature of healthcare, as well as the best practices for delivering high-quality medical support.

In addition to the credit hours and coursework, you’ll also have to complete more clinical practice hours to complete your BSN to DNP program. Doctorate-level online CRNA programs require roughly 1,000 clinical hours, while the MSN programs will require about half that amount. Graduates of a DNP program also need to complete a capstone project, an academic work that showcases your knowledge in the medical profession. For CRNA students, your capstone project will likely need to center around anesthesia or a related topic.

There will also be different outcomes after you graduate. Both of these types of online CRNA programs prepare you for a wonderful career, but a DNP graduate has the chance to work in the highest levels of leadership and administration within the medical profession. They could go on to teaching, executive leadership, or simply practice anesthesia nursing at the highest levels found in the industry.

These career outcomes, of course, will result in higher salaries (in general) for graduates of DNP programs. MSN graduates, to be certain, earn excellent incomes, but DNP graduates are some of the highest-paid professionals in the country. It will take longer (and require more tuition) but your salaries will likely be higher after graduating from DNP nurse anesthetist programs.

How Long are Online CRNA Programs?

The total length of time it takes to complete these degrees will depend on a variety of factors, including the specific institution and how your education is delivered. (Completely online vs some in-person learning, for example.)

Most DNP programs take about 36 months to complete, plus clinical practice hours and other requirements. However, this assumes that you are only taking DNP classes, not a BSN to DNP course, which would require more work.

In most cases, you can expect about three years of academic study. This can be shortened if you have completed previous classes that apply to the program. Taking summer classes and accelerated programs can also help you complete online CRNA programs much faster.

Why Should You Start this Career Path?

After completing nurse anesthetist schools, you’ll be ready to work in some of the top positions in the medical industry, including roles as a nurse anesthetist.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurse anesthetists earned a median salary of $174,790 in May of 2019. This makes them one of the top-paying professionals not only in the medical field, but in the entire job market. This number, however, includes all nurse anesthetists, a profession that generally calls for a master’s degree. If you have a doctorate (which you’ll get from a DNP program), you’ll likely earn salaries even higher than this already-large income.

The projected career growth for this profession is also high, as nurse anesthetists are expected to add 117,700 jobs between 2019 and 2029. That’s a growth of 14%; much higher than the expected growth of 4% for all careers.

Top Online CRNA Programs

BSN to DNP Programs

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville — Doctor of Nursing Practice / Nurse Anesthesia

The College of Nursing at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville is one of the top ranking programs in the country. It’s recognized for outstanding academics, innovative approaches to learning and healthcare, and a commitment to both research and community outreach.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice is a prime example of this world-class academic institution. Preparing students to improve the health and wellbeing of patient populations, this program uses evidence-based approaches to medicine and healthcare policy, developing future leaders in the nursing profession.

This program is highlighted by an immersion in the professional practice of nursing. Although you will be studying online, you’ll gain a deep knowledge and understanding for the profession while building important leadership skills for healthcare. The curriculum is based on research and scientific evidence, and includes a blended delivery that combines face-to-face instruction and online learning.

The nurse anesthesia concentration gives graduates the chance to work as a nurse anesthetist, a type of CRNA. The curriculum includes both core classes that apply to all enrolled in the DNP program, as well as classes that focus on your concentration of anesthesia.

Core classes include “Intro to Health Informatics,” “Physiology and Pathophysiology,” and “Clinical Anatomy,” among other course that deepen your understanding for health and medicine. Concentration coursework can include the anesthesia seminar, “Basic Principles of Anesthesia,” and the anesthesia clinical practicum.

In total, this is a 36-month program (three years) that results in a Doctor of Nursing Practice award.

To gain entry into this program, you need at least a BSN or be near completion of a BSN program. This undergraduate degree must be from a regionally-accredited institution, and DNP applicants need to have a 3.0 GPA or better from all degrees earned, including previous non-nursing education.

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DNP Programs

University of Arizona — Doctor of Nursing Practice / Nurse Anesthesia

The University of Arizona’s College of Nursing is located on the Tucson campus, offering excellent educations for a variety of nursing degrees. It ranks, according to their website, in the top 15% of all graduate nursing programs.

This program is specifically designed to prepare ICU nurses to provide anesthesia using a high level of medical and scientific knowledge, as well as practical experience in a medical setting. Students not only learn how to properly care for anesthesia patients, they also learn how to keep patients safe, comfortable, and calm before, during, and after a surgical procedure.

This is a hybrid DNP program that uses a mixture of online coursework, on-site learning, and clinical placements. After either a BSN or MSN, most students are eligible to enter this program. Admission into Arizona’s DNP nurse anesthesia program is highly competitive; in addition to transcripts and a current resume, students also need to provide two letters of recommendation. These letters need to be from professional colleagues who can provide legitimate comments on your desire to complete a doctorate program.

If you enroll in the DNP program from the University of Arizona, you’ll have to complete a total of 85 credit hours, 2,000 clinical hours, and 600 anesthetic hours. Like all DNP programs, you’ll have a mixture of core classes and concentration (in this case, anesthetic) classes. You’ll complete classes titled “Human Gross Anatomy,” “Health Policy and Economics,” and “Evidence-based Practice Methods.” Specialty courses will include “Foundations of Nurse Anesthesia,” “Nurse Anesthesia Pharmacology,” and “Advanced Anesthetic Principles,” among many others.

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Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science — Doctor of Nursing Practice / Nurse Anesthesia

Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science is based out of North Chicago, Illinois. Sitting on a 95-acre campus just north of downtown Chicago, this world-class institution offers a variety of educations focused mainly on scientific and medical knowledge.

Offered through the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science College of Health Professionals, this program is made for current registered nurses who want to continue their education and become a CRNA with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. It features a 36-month (three year) study program that builds your understanding of nursing and anesthesia.

To gain entry, applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 or better from previous studies. You’ll also need to provide three references who have a connection to the healthcare industry, which can include working in a medical setting or education future nurses. You’ll also need to furnish a short letter that explains why you want to enroll in CRNA schools.

The curriculum for this program is designed to create long-lasting success in the nursing profession. You will take a variety of core classes that build your overall understanding of medicine, nursing, and healthcare in general. These courses include “Clinical Anatomy,” “Principles of Anesthesia,” and “Advanced Health Assessments,” among many other useful and engaging classes.

Beginning in the first year, you will be introduced to anesthesia classes. “Advanced Nurse Anesthesia Pharmacology,” will be completed during the first year of enrollment in this program, and your education will become more detailed throughout the second. “Principles of Anesthesia,” both I and II, will be completed in the second year of enrollment.

By the third year, you will be completing your Clinical Seminar, Clinical Residency, and Entry Level Doctoral Immersion Residency III.

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Online CRNA programs are waiting for you. You deserve the best chance at academic success, and GetEducated has the tool and resources you need to select the right option. Get started by visiting our degree search to find the perfect online nursing program to fit your busy schedule and tight budget!

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