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Why CRNAs should get a DNP

CRNAs face increase in educational requirements

In 2007, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) called for increasing the educational requirements for certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) to the doctoral degree by 2025. All students admitted to nurse anesthesia programs after 2022 will be required to earn a doctoral degree in order to be eligible for certification. There are already more than 30 accredited nurse anesthesia programs where students with a BSN can graduate approximately three years later with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP). Although CRNAs who currently hold master’s degrees will still be allowed to practice after 2025, competition for jobs will intensify because the newer workforce will have a higher level of education. Therefore, many CRNAs are following the AANA’s recommendations and are choosing proactively to enroll in online DNP programs.

Benefits of earning a DNP

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs build on coursework taught at the master’s degree level by providing further instruction in evidence-based practice, leadership and quality improvement. The DNP is a terminal degree for nurses and is an alternative to the research-focused Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD) or Doctor of Nursing Science (DNSc) degrees. Nurses who have a DNP are fully prepared to integrate the science developed by nurse researchers into clinical practice. Additional benefits to clinical practice gained from DNP programs include utilizing health information technology and analyzing epidemiological and environmental data to evaluate and improve patient outcomes.

Online DNP programs offer flexibility for working CRNAs

Nationwide, DNP programs are reporting an increase in student enrollment. As employers acknowledge the contribution these expert advanced practice nurses are making in clinical arenas, the demand for nurses with doctoral degrees continues to grow. Those without a DNP may find themselves unable to find career opportunities as easily as someone with a DNP.

CRNA programs are intense and often require students to stop practicing while attending school. However, for those CRNAs who want to earn a DNP, online DNP programs make it in convenient to go back to school while continuing to practice. Nurse anesthetists fulfill degree requirements by working within their current positions to develop and implement meaningful, evidence-based change to their practices. Online DNP programs offer the flexibility needed for working CRNAs to advance their education and remain sought-after in an increasingly competitive market.


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