Advancing Your Career | Hospitals | Specialties

CRNA: Explore this Popular Profession

  • Have you heard of a certified nurse anesthetist or CRNA? Are you wondering, “What does a CRNA do?” 
  • CRNAs work under the supervision of an anesthesiologist and provide anesthesia to patients undergoing procedures that require a certain level of sedation and pain management. 
  • Let’s break it down and cover everything you should know about being a certified registered nurse anesthetist! 

Sadia Arshad


July 08, 2022
Simmons University

You’re here because you’re wondering what is a certified registered nurse anesthetist! A certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) is a type of advanced practice registered nurse who specializes in the administration of anesthesia and other medications. Anesthesia is a medical treatment that keeps someone from feeling pain during medical procedures. 

CRNAs are also referred to as nurse anesthetists.  

When I first started to read about nursing and learned about different nursing paths, I wondered about the differences between CRNAs and other nursing professions. Navigating health care as a patient and navigating health care paths are both complicated.

Whether you are curious about entering the nursing profession or wondering who took care of you during your procedure, this post is for you!



CRNA giving anesthesia

Education of a CRNA

CRNAs are a type of nurse practitioner with training and education in pain management and anesthesia. Anesthesia is a medical process that prevents patients from feeling pain during medical procedures, such as surgeries, screening exams, diagnostic assessments, and the like. CRNAs have a graduate-level degree in nursing anesthesia.  

CRNAs work for at least one year in critical care nursing as a registered nurse, such as in intensive care unit (ICU) settings or in emergency medicine. Many CRNA degree programs look for applicants with at least two years of critical care experience.

Salary of a CRNA

Salary varies by state and place of employment, such as a hospital or private practice. Typically, hospitals pay more than private practices, and CRNAs with more experience have a higher salary than recent graduates.  

According to, the average salary for a CRNA is $119,600. Note that this average varies depending on experience, location, and place of work. 

Where Do CRNAs Work?

CRNAs can work in many places, such as: 

  • Hospitals, 
  • Palliative and hospice care facilities,  
  • Pharmaceutical companies, 
  • Telehealth start-ups,  
  • Clinical research facilities,  
  • Dental offices,  
  • Military health services, 
  • Ambulatory surgical centers, and more.  

Certified registered nurse anesthetists can also specialize in private consulting, work in nursing management, or teach at nursing schools. 

CRNA working

Scope of Practice

CRNAs can see people of all ages regarding anesthesia needs. Some CRNAs work with specific patient populations, such as in aesthetic nursing or within pediatric hospitals.   

Common CRNA duties include:  

  • Order pertinent testing 
  • Interpret lab results 
  • Monitor patients who receive or are recovering from anesthesia 
  • Assess a patient’s responses response to anesthesia 
  • Identify possible risks to the patient undergoing anesthesia 
  • Providing precise dosages of anesthesia 
  • Administer immunizations and medications  
  • Work in collaboration with other clinicians  
  • and of course, educate and counsel patients as needed.  

This is just a sample of what CRNAs can do! The scope of work for a CRNA strongly depends on their training, local boards of nursing, workplace practices, and local legislation. 

CRNA vs Other Nursing Specialities

There are several advanced practice nursing specialties, such as pediatrics, emergency medicine, and midwifery 

CRNAs focus specifically on pain management and anesthesia. While CRNAs can see patients from all walks of life and across all age groups, CRNAs have an essential role in making sure patients have a pain-free experience. 

CRNAs are also the go-to person responsible if something were to happen to a patient during a procedure. While people are often tempted to look into the CRNA career route because of the salary, this is not a fast, easy money route.  

Being a CRNA requires critical judgment skills and the ability to make snap decisions regarding someone’s pain and sedation needs. It also requires a solid understanding of life sciences, pharmacology, and anatomy.  

If you are considering being a certified registered nurse anesthetist, I would recommend that you ask yourself if you truly are passionate about anesthesia, nursing, and well-rounded patient care.  

CRNA job

The Bottom Line

If you are thinking about becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist or learning more about the profession, I would recommend looking into the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology or the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.   

You can also learn about the growing field of anesthesia nursing by reading the Anesthesia and Analgesia Journal or American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology Journal 

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