Anesthesia Tech vs CNA in the ICU



I am currently in my first semester of an ABSN program and would like to find a part time job during school. There is an opening for an anesthesia tech PRN and also part-time ICU CNA positions at the hospitals in my area (Charlotte, NC). I was thinking of applying to all the positions and see if I am offered an interview. Which would you all recommend for a current nursing student aspiring to be a CRNA? I have worked as a retail pharmacy technician ~1 and an CNA/EMT ~4 months as a Critical Care Tech in the ED before nursing school. Thank you very much for your time and help in advance!


Specializes in SICU/TRAUMA/ER. Has 9 years experience.

I think Anesthesia tech will be more beneficial as you will be in the OR and have a better exposure. Take that if you absolutely know if CRNA is your path.

I have to disagree with the above. You don’t go from anesthesia tech to CRNA, but you can go from CNA in the ICU, to RN in the ICU, to CRNA.

Knowing how to stock the anesthesia supplies is not required to get in to CRNA school, but being a nurse in the ICU is. That CNA job can give you a head start in landing your first nursing job right in to the ICU.

Nursing was a second degree for me too and I knew I wanted to wind up a CRNA eventually so I took a CNA job in the ICU I wanted to work in when I graduated while in school. I didn’t even have to interview to get my spot as an RN when graduation rolled around.


Specializes in ICU. Has 3 years experience.

Here's my two cents:

I was a stocker in the anesthesia workroom. It helped me get familiarity with the OR environment and supplies. For actual techs, some hospitals let you set up and/or place a lines for the whole hospital, which is cool. You work closely with providers in most places, so it can help you decide if that's really where you'd like to be. However, if you've already figured that out (and tbh you always could shadow a CRNA), it might be beneficial to do the CNA job. I honestly wish I had been a CNA in the ICU. I was luckily enough to get a job in the ICU as a new grad, but I can tell you that it is way easier if you've been a CNA there. In fact, the capstone for nursing school I wanted was only ever given to the CNAs on that unit. It also helps set you up for success as a new grad in the ICU, because the learning curve is slightly less as you know everyone, where stuff is, what stuff is, etc, etc. Also, getting supplies for intubations on ICU floors gives you a lot of the same familiarity with anesthesia supplies.

Places I've been, the anesthesia techs mostly stock and help get stuff ready between cases, which while very helpful to us, gives limited exposure to actual administration of anesthesia. There is the occasional exception where anesthesia techs set up lines and pass stuff off when anesthesia is placing lines etc, however this is exception in my experience (only in the cardiac OR at one hospital I trained at).

In my opinion, you would be far better off working as a CNA/tech in the ICU. I would think that if you are a great tech and show initiative you would be exponentially more likely to be hired as an RN in that ICU once you graduate. Just my viewpoint from the other side.

Thank you so much everyone for your input! I recently interviewed for a day shift med-surg ICU PRN and a night shift neuro ICU PRN position at a large hospital in my area! I am waiting to hear back and if I get both jobs I will have to decide :o

If you're aiming for CRNA school, CNA in the ICU is how you get your foot wedged into the door for an ICU RN position. With very few exceptions, CRNA schools require ICU experience, not OR experience. GET INTO AN ICU ASAP if you really want to get into CRNA school.

As soon as I could, I worked as a tech in an ICU, got really good recommendations/references, did an externship and thought I was golden for a ton of ICU new grad jobs. I applied to about 15 different ICUs across 3 different metro areas - only got 1 phone screen; HOWEVER, I was an insta-hire for the ICUs within my hospital system because nepotism is how you get jobs nowadays.

You'll certainly get more interaction time with CRNAs if you work in the OR, but you could always shadow CRNAs to gauge whether or not you'll fit into the profession.