Are you a registered nurse (RN) who wants to take your career further?
You should consider becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA).
CRNAs are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who administer anesthesia-related care before, during, and after surgical procedures.
They have meaningful jobs, are highly respected, and have one of the highest-paying nursing jobs in the industry.
But how exactly do you become one?
Since the job of a nurse anesthetist is highly specialized, it makes sense that there are a lot of requirements to become one.
It can seem very daunting at first.
But we’ve gathered everything you need to know about how to become a nurse anesthetist (CRNA) in Illinois and arranged it into 5 simple steps.
If you follow our guide, you’ll become a CRNA in no time.
Without further ado, let’s dive in!
How to Become a Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) in Illinois in 5 Steps
- Get an RN License and Gain Relevant Experience
- Enroll in a Nurse Anesthesia Education Program
- Pass the National Certification Exam
- Apply for an APRN License in Illinois
- Get a Job as a CRNA
Step #1: Get an RN License and Gain Relevant Experience
Before you can become a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), you need to earn an RN license.
Get an RN License
If you are not a Registered Nurse yet, here’s a quick breakdown of what you should do.
You should start by enrolling in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from an approved nursing school, which takes four years to complete.
On the other hand, you can also earn an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN), which takes two years.
But earning a BSN degree is recommended since most CRNA schools require this. It will give you a solid foundation before entering into advanced studies.
Also, make sure you get into a nursing school approved by the Illinois Board of Nursing.
After graduation, you will need to apply for an RN license from the BON and take the NCLEX-RN.
If you pass, you can then start practicing as a nurse in Illinois.
You can learn more about how to become an RN in Illinois by reading this simple guide.
Gain Experience in Critical Care
After receiving your RN license, you will need to complete one to three years of experience in critical care.
You should work in intensive care units (ICUs), trauma and emergency centers, and medical-surgical units.
During critical care training, RNs learn how to provide medical interventions to critically sick patients who have been injured, are suffering from life-threatening conditions, or are undergoing surgery.
These skills are essential for CRNAs. And this is why most CRNA schools require at least 1-3 years of experience in these settings.
Step #2: Enroll in a Nurse Anesthesia Education Program
After completing your critical care nursing experience, it’s time to enroll in a nurse anesthesia education program accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs.
By 2025, aspiring CRNAs will be required to have a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) or doctor of nurse anesthesia practice (DNAP).
You need to select a specialty area during the DNP programs. The DNAP curriculum has the specialization already available.
Most graduate programs require a minimum 3.0 GPA, while some programs strongly require a 3.5 or higher GPA.
Applicants can also submit a personal essay or statement and letters of recommendation.
DNPs or DNAPs usually take 3-4 years to complete. They include classroom instruction and a lot of clinical experience.
Step #3: Pass the National Certification Exam
You must hold a DNP or DNAP degree along with an RN license for you to take the National Certification Exam.
The National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) is the one that offers the NCE. All states in the US including Illinois require certification from the NBCRNA for you to be a CRNA.
The exam costs $1,045 and is a three-hour computer-adaptive test with 100 to 170 questions.
Topics found in the exam include basic science, anesthesia principles, surgical procedures, basic equipment, and instrumentation, to name a few.
Most states also require CRNAs to have an APRN license.
It’s also worth noting that a CRNA must recertify every four years and maintain their credentials throughout their profession.
You can find a lot of resources about the NCE on the NBCRNA website.
Step #4: Apply for an APRN License
After earning a national certification, you can proceed with the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) Licensure Application.
Your application must include the following requirements:
- Illinois RN License number
- APRN category of application indicated
- $125 APRN application fee and additional fees, payable to the Department of Financial & Professional Regulation
- A copy of your current national certification
- Official and sealed college transcript providing information about your graduate degree
On the occasion you are applying for more than one category for your APRN licensure, your transcript must indicate your education supports an additional license.
Send your application to the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation, ATTN: Division of Professional Regulation, P.O. Box 7007, Springfield, IL 62791.
Step #5: Get a Job as a CRNA
After completing all the steps, you can now find a job as a CRNA!
As a CRNA, you can work in these environments and collaborate with anesthesiologists, surgeons, and other healthcare professionals:
- Medical and surgical hospitals
- Nursing research facilities
- Critical access hospitals
- Medical offices
- Mobile surgery centers
- Outpatient care centers
- Military medical facilities in the US
In some cases, rural hospitals may require an anesthesia practitioner. Depending on the state, a CRNA may work under the supervision of a physician or work independently.
CRNAs can also work in managerial roles such as continuing education, staff development, financial and risk management, personnel and resource management, etc.
Working for state and federal government organizations like the American Society for Testing and Materials, the US Food and Drug Administration, and the Illinois Board of Nursing are additional career options.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Becoming a Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) in Illinois
How much does a CRNA earn?
A CRNA has one of the highest salaries in the field of nursing. Though this depends on which state you are working in.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual salary of CRNAs in the U.S. is $205,770.
A CRNA can earn $238,440 a year or $114 per hour in Illinois. This is higher than the national mean.
When can I renew my RN license in Illinois?
Registered nurse (RN) licenses in Illinois expire on May 31 of every even-numbered year.
License renewal in Illinois occurs every two years. You are required to complete 20 contact hours of your continuing education requirements for first-timers.
Records of completion need to be ready when requested. If you’ve fulfilled your continuing education hours in another state, you can still complete the requirements in Illinois for re-licensure.
And that wraps up our simple guide of how to become a nurse anesthetist (CRNA) in Illinois.
We’ve given you everything you need to know – from enrolling in a nursing education program to obtaining your CRNA license.
The journey to becoming a CRNA is not easy, as you can see. But the rewards are worth it.
You will have a very fulfilling and meaningful career and make a great impact in the lives of countless people.
So, just follow our guide one step at a time.
You’ll be a CRNA in no time!
If you have any questions, do sound off in the comments below.
We’d love to hear from you!