Becoming a CRNA just got harder (regardless of what they say)

  1. Friday, February 22, 2013

    The National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) has voted to raise the passing standard for the National Certification Examination (NCE). The passing standard is the level of knowledge or ability that must be demonstrated in order to achieve a passing score on the NCE. Effective January 1, 2014, all graduates who take the exam will be measured by the new standard.

    The NBCRNA periodically evaluates the passing standard to ensure it reflects current expectations for competent professional performance at entry-level. The Board's decision to raise the passing standard recognizes that healthcare in general and the provision of anesthesia services grow ever more complex, requiring practitioners to have greater knowledge and skills. The new standard will continue to provide assurance to the public that entry-level nurse anesthetists possess the knowledge required to provide anesthesia care.

    The NBCRNA Board of Directors accepted the recommendation to increase the passing standard made by a panel of certified registered nurse anesthetists who met to analyze the appropriateness of the current standard for the certification examination. Periodic standard-setting studies are required by our own accrediting agencies, and the procedure we follow is firmly grounded in the testing literature and used by numerous other credentialing bodies, including the National Council of State Boards of Nursing in its NCLEX examination. Subject matter experts representing a diverse sample of anesthesia providers throughout the United States participated in the standard-setting meeting. The panel members were nurse anesthetists who were identified primarily for their familiarity with the skills and knowledge necessary for entry-level practice. They were selected to represent a variety of regions, work settings (urban vs. rural), ethnicities and gender. The panel followed the same Bookmark Method that was used when the passing standard was last adjusted in 2008 to reach consensus on a recommended passing standard. The NBCRNA Board of Directors then met and decided to increase the passing standard based on the panel's recommendation. More information on the Bookmark Method of standard-setting is available on the NBCRNA website at

    Students should know that raising the standard does not mean the individual questions on the NCE will be more difficult. The NCE is adaptive, which means that only questions appropriate to the ability level of the examinee will be administered. Providing early notification of the change will enable schools and examinees to prepare for the NCE.


    Charles Vacchiano, PhD, CRNA NBCRNA President
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    About MeTheRN

    Joined: Aug '10; Posts: 234; Likes: 137
    Student Registered Nurse Anesthetist; from US
    Specialty: Neurosurgical ICU


  3. by   OscarRN
    Bring it on! :-)
  4. by   ckh23
    I don't think it got harder. They are just raising the score you need to pass. If they wanted to make it harder to become a CRNA they would start shrinking the amount of anesthesia programs out there.
  5. by   wtbcrna
    It sounds worse than it is. There is already nearly a 90% pass rate for first time test takers. I am only guessing, but it will probably only change the pass rate for first time test takers 2-5%. Those would be the borderline test takers that would be just barely scraping by anyways....Just my 2 cents.
  6. by   Thetist1
    This is great news. If weak SNRA's cant pass the exam and become a CRNA, then the Job market is stronger for everyone else that makes its! In the long run, schools with low pass rates will reduce their acceptance to only the most qualified students.
  7. by   ckh23
    While that does make sense, do you really think someone who has invested that time and money in school will just give up if they don't pass? And you know all of those programs like Valley and Prodigy are going to make the necessary changes to their reviews. I highly doubt this will do anything to make the job market better.
  8. by   wtbcrna
    Thetist1 I saw on your profile it says non-nursing as your educational background. What exactly is your background? Are you a healthcare/CRNA recruiter?...
  9. by   Eiano
    It definitely didn't become harder. I mean really: Who would invest 2+ years of their lives only to bow out at failure of the board exam? I can think of about 0 of my fellow SRNAs who'd say, "Hmm... you know what? I've come this far, left my family and job, am in debt up to my ears and have been getting pimped daily... pretty much embarrassed. I think I'll go back to nursing since I failed my boards. Yeah, that sounds like a plan!"