In the near future, to become a CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) you will have to obtain a doctorate degree, hence, master degree programs will no longer be offered.
In addition, there is much confusion on the two types of doctorate degrees, DNAP and DNP, that are offered to become a CRNA.
In this article, I’m going to explain the following:
- How to currently become a CRNA (before these changes take place)
- When the changes will take place to become a CRNA
- Difference between the DNAP and DNP degrees
How to become a CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) Prior to Program Changes
A CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) is an advanced practice nurse who has obtained a master’s degree (take 24-36 months depending on the program) and is board certified to administer anesthesia. As of 2015, you can attend a master’s program to study to become a CRNA. However, starting in 2022 these types of programs will no longer be offered.
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Video on CRNA Program Changes & DNAP vs DNP
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Program Changes to the CRNA Program
Starting in 2025, anyone who is NOT a CRNA and wants to become one, they must attend a doctorate program. Health care providers who are already hold the credentials of CRNA will be grandfathered in and will not be required to obtain a doctorate degree.
There are two options for obtaining a doctorate degree and they are a DNAP (Doctorate of Nursing Anesthesia Practice) or DNP (Doctorate of Nursing Practice) degree program. These programs vary on how long it will take depending on what type of degree you hold prior to entering the program, but it can take anywhere from 5-6 semesters. It is important to note that nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and clinical nurse specialists will have to obtain a doctorate (DNP) degree as well in the future.
Difference between the DNP and DNAP Degrees
Essentially the degrees are the same and lead to you becoming a CRNA. One degree type isn’t better than the other and it is really a matter of personal opinion and future career goals.They are both practice degrees (not research degrees like Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS or DSN) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). However, there are some technical differences (see below).
- DNP programs are offered through nursing programs
- DNAP program are mostly offered outside of nursing programs and colleges
- DNP programs are accredited by the ANCC and are for all advanced practice registered nurses and the student picks their specialization in nurse anesthetist.
- DNAP programs are specially designed for nurse anesthetist students and are approved by Nurse Anesthetists Council of Accreditation.
*However, if you plan to teach at college level with a DNAP some universities don’t view the DNAP as a terminal degree (the highest degree you can receive in a field) which would decrease your chances of obtaining tenure (which helps secure your job…providing a permanent position).
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