Are you a registered nurse (RN) in Iowa?
Are you wondering where to take your career?
Well, becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) may be the path for you!
Nurse anesthetists are in-demand in the United States. They administer anesthesia in various healthcare settings such as hospitals, critical care units (CCUs), and intensive care units (ICUs).
They are also highly compensated.
So, if you’re looking for a meaningful and rewarding career, then you may want to consider becoming a CRNA.
However, as appealing as it may sound, the path to becoming a CRNA is not easy. It involves a lot of training, practice, exams, and processes.
But don’t worry! We’ve prepared a simple guide on how to become a nurse anesthetist (CRNA) in Iowa.
We will give you everything you need to know in just 6 steps. Plus, we’ll answer some relevant questions.
So, if you’re ready for a good and worthwhile challenge, keep reading.
Buckle up and let’s get right into it!
How to Become a Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) in Iowa in 6 Simple Steps
These are the 6 steps to becoming a CRNA in Iowa:
- Earn a BSN Degree and Apply for an RN License
- Gain Experience in Critical Care
- Apply to a Graduate Nurse Anesthesia Program
- Pass the National Certification Exam (NCE) for Nurse Anesthetists
- Apply for an ARNP License in Iowa
- Get a Job as a CRNA
Let’s discuss each in more detail.
Step #1: Earn a BSN Degree and Apply for an RN License
If you are not yet an RN, then the first step of your CRNA journey is to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from an accredited nursing school.
It is advised that you go for a Bachelor’s Degree instead of an Associate’s Degree since most CRNA programs require a BSN. It also provides you with a stronger foundation before going into more advanced studies.
To earn a BSN degree, you can do this in two ways:
- Graduate with a BSN degree from a four-year college or university
- Get an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) then pursue an RN-to-BSN bridge program.
After graduating with a BSN degree, you need to pass the national licensure exam (the NCLEX-RN) to apply for an RN license.
If you pass the exam, then you will be given your RN license!
The Iowa Board of Nursing will deliver the official results within two to four weeks from the date of the exam.
If you fail to pass the exam, on the other hand, a diagnostic profile will be given so you can check your overall performance. You will then need to retake the exam.
To learn more about how to become an RN in Iowa, you can read this simple guide.
Step #2: Gain Experience in Critical Care
After passing the NCLEX-RN, you are required to gain experience as an RN in critical care for at least one year.
You should work in critical care units (CCUs) or intensive care units (ICUs).
Most CRNA programs require experience in critical care for at least 1-3 years.
This experience allows you to prepare for the demanding work of a CRNA. You can also learn skills such as hemodynamic monitoring, invasive lines, and continuous electrocardiogram monitoring.
Step #3: Apply to a Graduate Nurse Anesthesia Program
Now that you have gained experience in critical care nursing and currently hold an RN license, you can apply to a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) program.
You can enroll in a master’s or doctoral program. However, by 2025, aspiring CRNAs will be required to have a doctoral degree.
To be admitted into a CRNA program, you may need to submit transcripts from your BSN program, proof of an active RN license, as well as essays and letters of recommendation.
You may also have to pay an application fee. The cost of the application fee depends on the school. The University of Iowa, for example, charges $60 for the application fee.
Some schools offer part-time programs, which help students who are working while studying.
Schools offer front-loaded CRNA programs which means you’re going to learn in the classroom before you enter a clinical setting. Integrated programs offer a mix of both learning experiences.
The duration of a CRNA program varies but this could take roughly 24 to 51 months to complete and can be very costly.
Step #4: Pass the National Certification Exam (NCE) for Nurse Anesthetists
Now that you’ve finished your CRNA program, you will need to take the National Certification Exam (NCE).
This exam is administered by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA).
It is a national exam that all aspiring CRNAs need to take.
Although this can be daunting, your CRNA program will be preparing you for this exam. You can also avail yourself of a lot of free resources online and from the NBCRNA itself.
The NCE application fee costs $1,045 and is to be paid directly online to the NBCRNA website. The retake application fee also costs $1,045 while the NCE reauthorization fee costs $75.
When you pass the exam, you will then receive a national certification which is needed for your credentials as a CRNA.
Step #5: Apply for an ARNP License in Iowa
Now that you are nationally certified as a nurse anesthetist, you have all the major requirements to get your license.
All you need to do is to submit these to the Iowa Board of Nursing.
CRNAs are one of the categories under the Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) license.
Here is a list of the requirements:
- A completed application form either done online or manually
- A non-refundable fee of $81
- Proof of an active RN license if you are an RN from another compact state
- A copy of your advanced-level certificate from the NBCRNA
- Official transcripts from your CRNA program sent directly from your school to the Iowa BON
- Information regarding any criminal offense and out-of-state discipline (if applicable)
- Active military or federal government employee identification (if applicable)
For more information on these requirements, you can take a look at this list.
Once the Iowa BON verifies and approves your application, you will receive your ARNP license. Congratulations!
Step #6: Get a Job as a CRNA
After passing the NCE exam and earning your nurse anesthetist license, you are now allowed to work as a CRNA.
CRNAs work in various settings such as doctor’s offices, hospitals, and even universities.
Nurse anesthetists are important in medical procedures as they will provide safety and comfort while the anesthesia minimizes the pain to the patients. Many rural hospitals depend on CRNAs for anesthesia care.
Aside from working as a CRNA, you have the option to partake in a year-long fellowship after graduating and focus on a specialization.
The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) offers an Acute Surgical Pain Management fellowship for CRNAs who are looking to learn more about treating acute surgical pain.
Here is a list of accredited fellowship opportunities you can check out.
You must also remember to keep your licenses active throughout your career.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Becoming a Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) in Iowa
How long does it take to become a CRNA?
According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (AANA), the steps from earning a BSN degree, applying for an RN license, working in critical care, and enrolling in a CRNA program take a minimum of seven to eight and a half years.
CRNA program graduates accumulate an average of over 9,000 hours of clinical experience throughout their journey.
How much does a CRNA earn in Iowa?
In Iowa, the average annual salary of a CRNA is around $207,240/year or $99.64/hour. This is 2% higher than the national average of $202,470/year or $97.34/hour, according to Incredible Health.
Though this still depends on which city in Iowa you decide to work in.
Here is the list of the highest-paying cities in Iowa for CRNAs:
How do I renew my nursing license in Iowa?
RN licenses in Iowa renew every three years which can be done online.
The continuing education requirement for licenses issued for over three years is 36 contact hours.
ARNPs are required to maintain their national certification. They are not required to have additional CEs aside from the ones required to maintain their certificates.
For more information on nursing CE requirements in Iowa, you can read this guide.
You can also read a step-by-step guide for ARNP license renewal here.
And that’s about it!
Everything you need to know about how to become a nurse anesthetist (CRNA) in Iowa.
The process is long, expensive, and challenging, but it is worthwhile if becoming a CRNA is what you’re passionate about.
You will have a meaningful and rewarding career.
We hope this comprehensive guide will help you on your journey. Just remember to take it one step at a time so that you won’t feel so overwhelmed.
And remember! Enjoy the process.
We wish you all the best.