Student Registered Nurse Anesthetist: What Is an SRNA, Salary, and How to Become One

Becoming a Student Registered Nurse Anesthetist (SRNA) is one of the pathways to becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). Specialties CRNA Knowledge

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Student Registered Nurse Anesthetist: What Is an SRNA, Salary, and How to Become One

Did you know an SRNA is a Student Registered Nurse Anesthetist (SRNA)? If you didn't, you are not alone, as many students and professionals have never heard of nurse anesthetists.

Nursing is an exciting profession that offers many career paths; one is becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). Being an SRNA means that you are close to reaching the goal of CRNA.

History of Nurse Anesthetists

Nurses have been giving anesthesia for over 150 years, first provided to wounded soldiers during the American Civil War and World War I, among many critical dates in the development of nurse anesthetists in the US:

  • Sister Catherine Bernard, who began as a nursing student in 1877 at St Vincent's Hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania, developed a proficiency for anesthesiology and became the first known nurse anesthetist in the US.
  • In 1915, Agatha Hodgins, a nurse who taught anesthesia to doctors and nurses, opened the first school for nurse anesthetists in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • Agatha Hodgins founded the first nursing anesthetist association in 1931, later renamed the American Association of Nurse Anaesthetists (AANA) in 1939.
  • In 1955, the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare accredited the AANA. A year later, the AANA endorsed the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) credential.
  • The AANA has continued its history of excellence by developing mandatory continuing education, filling anesthesiology needs with CRNAs during Covid-19, and recently changing its name to the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology.

Why Would You Want to Be an SRNA?

The main reason for becoming an SRNA is to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. CRNAs love their profession for the following reasons:

  • It is a fulfilling job where they can help patients in tangible ways—monitoring them during surgeries, providing pain relief during labor and delivery, and saving lives in an emergency.
  • They are never bored because no day is the same.
  • They can work as part of a team in a hospital or independently in dental and medical clinics.

How to Become an SRNA

Becoming a CRNA takes between 7 and 8.5 years or more. The Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program, a non-profit organization committed to advancing critical care nurses to becoming nurse anesthetists, offers CRNA information sessions to prospective SRNAs. Attending may facilitate admission into a program.

To become an SRNA, you must complete the following:

  • Graduate from a recognized nursing program.
  • Have a Registered Nurse (RN) license or Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (ARPN) license to work in the United States (US).
  • Work for at least one year as a critical care nurse in an acute care unit.
  • Apply to an accredited nurse anesthesia program, of which there were 130 options throughout the US and Puerto Rico as of August 2022. All programs are now at a doctorate level.

How Long Are You an SRNA?

Depending on the nurse anesthesia program, it may take 24 to 51 months of schooling and clinical hours for the SRNA to graduate.

After graduation, the SRNA must pass the National Certification Examination held by the National Board of Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA).

SRNA Roles and Responsibilities

Initially, the SRNA concentrates on the didactic courses given in the accredited anesthetist program. These will include:

  • Chemistry and physics
  • Pharmacology related to anesthesiology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Pain management
  • Legal and ethical aspects of becoming a CRNA

On clinical days, the SRNA will:

  • Read patient charts for medical history, comorbidities, and allergies before procedures.
  • Do patient physical assessments; listen to and answer their questions.
  • Observe the CRNA or anesthesiologist provide general anesthesia, regional anesthesia, and sedation for medical procedures.
  • Learn airway management skills and procedures.
  • Monitor the patient during and after the procedures by taking vital signs.
  • Learn how to check and use anesthesia equipment.
  • Observe how to chart before, during, and after procedures.

SRNA Salary and Job Outlook

Depending on the university, some schools may offer the SRNA a stipend on the condition that they stay to work in a particular hospital or state. Other options for financial aid are student loans, bursaries, and scholarships.

Related: 10 Highest-Paying Nursing Jobs That Don't Need an Advanced Degree

The job outlook is excellent for the SRNA after they have graduated and received their certification. A CRNA is among the highest-paid nursing jobs in the US, earning, on average, between $180,000 and $220,000, with many jobs posted on the AANA website.

Do SRNAs and CRNAs Work Under the Supervision of an Anesthesiologist?

Nurse Anesthetists used to work under an anesthesiologist's direction; however, peer-reviewed studies have shown that anesthesia delivery under a CRNA is safe and cost-efficient. Since 2001, 22 states have elected to opt out of the physician supervision requirement program after the law changed to allow CRNAs to work independently(1).

During Covid-19, a special law allowed all CRNAs to operate independently.

Does Becoming an SRNA Appeal to You?

Are you ready to move on from your current nursing role, enjoy working independently, and want to be challenged?

Being a nurse anesthetist is a rewarding career that requires high knowledge and skill levels. In addition, CRNAs are in great demand, which leads to job security(7)

STAFF NOTE: Original Community Post 

This article was created in response to a community post. Here's the original post:


I have been doing some research on CRNAs and I keep reading about SRNAs. From what I have gathered a SRNA is a student CRNA. Could somebody let me know if I am right?

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Specializes in Anesthesia.

Thank you for the post. There needs to be a couple of corrections though: CRNAs can and do work independently in hospitals all over the USA and US territories. That hasn't changed for over 150 years, and nurse anesthesiologists/anesthetists trace our history back to the Crimean War. The ability to practice independently had nothing to do with the temporary suspension of the CMS rules on Medicare/Medicaid regarding CRNA supervision. Almost half the states had already passed opt-out rulings allowing CRNAs to practice without additional hurdles for CMS patients prior to COVID19. These CMS rules never effected non-CMS patients, which often confuses people about opt-out rules.

All CRNA schools are now a minimum of 36 months unless the SRNA/RRNAs (resident RN anesthetists) started prior to 2022 and will graduate prior to 2025. This is due to the Doctorate requirement that passed several years ago that stated all SRNAs/RRNAs will graduate with a Doctorate by 2025 and on. It takes a minimum of an RN with a Bachelors degree and one year of critical care experience prior to starting CRNA school.  That makes becoming a CRNA a minimum of 8 years for most people, but in reality most nurses have 3-5 years experience prior to starting CRNA school.

The AANA does have job site, but by far the most numerous anesthesia positions are posted on gasworks website.