The didactic curricula of nurse anesthesia programs are governed by Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Program (COA) standards and provide students the scientific, clinical and professional foundation upon which to build sound and safe clinical practice. The basic nurse anesthesia academic curriculum and prerequisite courses focus on coursework in anesthesia practice: pharmacology of anesthetic agents and adjuvant drugs, including concepts in chemistry and biochemistry; anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology; professional aspects of nurse anesthesia practice; basic and advanced principles of anesthesia practice, including physics, equipment, technology and pain management; research; and clinical correlation conferences.
Most programs exceed these minimum requirements. In addition, many require study in methods of scientific inquiry and statistics, as well as active participation in research.
The National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) is the certifying body that administers the national certification examination. Each graduate of a nurse anesthesia educational program must pass the national certification examination before he or she can be certified as a CRNA.
Recertification is required of CRNAs on a biennial basis. The recertification program is administered by The National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA), which reviews CRNA qualifications regarding:
- Current licensure as a registered nurse
- Continuing education (40 CE credits)
- Certification that he or she has been substantially engaged in the practice of anesthesia during the two-year period
- Verification of the absence of mental, physical or other problems that could interfere with the practice of anesthesia