FAQ About the Nurse Anesthesiology Specialty Track – Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program


A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthesiologist or CRNA is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) recognized by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and all of the boards of nursing in every state, territory and the District of Columbia that regulate nursing practice. According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (AANA), CRNAs are anesthesia professionals who safely administer more than 50 million anesthetics to patients each year in the United States. CRNAs provide anesthesia in collaboration with surgeons, dentists, podiatrists, physician anesthesiologists, and other qualified healthcare professionals. As advanced practice registered nurses, CRNAs practice with a high degree of autonomy and professional respect. CRNAs are qualified to make independent judgments regarding all aspects of anesthesia care based on their education, licensure, and certification. More information about state laws that regulate CRNA practice can be found on the AANA website.

The NMSU Nurse Anesthesiology program is pleased to announce that the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) has granted initial accreditation status to our program effective November 9, 2023 with the effective starting date of the program January 2024.   NMSU Nurse Anesthesiology Initial Accreditation Letter.  Contact information for the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) is 10275 W. Higgins Rd., Suite 906, Rosemont, IL  60018-5603; (847) 655-1160,  https://www.coacrna.org/.  

The Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) requires at least one year of current, full time critical care experience. Best qualified candidates have at between 2-5 years of critical care experience to ensure applicants have a strong nursing foundation for success in nurse anesthesiology.

The applicant must have independent decision-making capability to use and interpret advanced monitoring techniques based on knowledge of physiological and pharmacological principles.

We prefer trauma ICU, CVICU and/or surgical ICU experience. Other intensive care areas that are acceptable include: neuro ICU, burn ICU, PICU, NICU, MICU, and CCU. We do not consider Emergency Room, Cardiac Catheterization, and Post-anesthesia care nursing as critical care areas. Some rural ICU’s may not meet the critical care requirement depending on their patient acuity and workload.

CRNAs are the only anesthesia professionals with critical care experience prior to beginning formal anesthesia education. The COA website has an explanation of how the organization determines this minimum clinical practice requirement

A critical care area is an area where, on a routine basis, the registered nurse manages one or more of the following: invasive hemodynamic monitors (e.g., pulmonary artery, central venous pressure, and arterial catheters), cardiac assist devices, mechanical ventilation, and vasoactive infusions. Those who have experiences in other areas may be considered provided they can demonstrate competence with managing unstable patients, invasive monitoring, ventilators, and critical care pharmacology.

Nurse practitioner experience may not qualify as critical care experience .  Applicants need routine hands-on experience with invasive monitors, ventilators, and vasoactive medications.

According to the COA, nurses must obtain critical care experience within the United States, its territories, or a US military hospital outside of the United States. During this experience, the registered professional nurse must develop critical decision making and psychomotor skills, competency in patient assessment, and the ability to use and interpret advanced monitoring techniques.

Since nurse anesthesia education offered at schools or colleges of nursing require the completion of a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing is required at time of application. Applicants must also hold an unencumbered license as a registered nurse.

Yes. CCRN (adult or pediatric) certification demonstrate that the nurse has the motivation and knowledge foundation for anesthesia practice (this is a change from 2023 requirements).

The NMSU Nurse Anesthesiology program is based at the NMSU-Las Cruces campus in southern New Mexico, however we have a virtual campus in Albuquerque.  DNP core courses are delivered in an online, asynchronous format and nurse anesthesiology didactic courses will be delivered in a synchronous format. Students located in the Las Cruces area will be required to attend class on campus and student located in the Albuquerque may be required to attend the didactic courses in a distance education classroom.  There will be orientations and laboratory experienced held on the Las Cruces campus that students based in Albuquerque will need to attend. The majority of clinical experience are located in Las Cruces or Albuquerque/Santa Fe regions. However, all students must complete a rural health rotation in New Mexico.  Students attending from out-of-state should plan to relocate to Las Cruces, NM or the Albuquerque, NM regions at the start of the program.

No. Due to the intensity, rigor, and demand of the program all employment is forbidden while enrolled in the program. There are several financial aid opportunities to help finance tuition and other expenses.

You will need to account for living expenses (food, shelter, transportation, healthcare).  With federal education loans, students may be eligible to receive approximately $2000/month for living expenses.  However, the amount and allocation of these loans fluctuate from year-to-year. Individual circumstances will affect the distribution.

The maximum number of graduate-level semester credit hours that can be transferred and applied to the program is 12. Only DNP core courses are allowed to be transferred, no previous nurse anesthesia courses are transferrable. The DNP-NA specialty track director will make the final determination regarding transfer of credit. Students wishing to transfer any course must have earned a minimum grade of B in the course and the course must have been completed within the past five years of starting the program. DNP core courses must have been completed at the doctoral level to be considered for transfer or waiver.

Requests for transfer credit based on graduate course work at other institutions at NMSU must have prior approval from the department head and the dean of the Graduate School before credit will be applied at NMSU.  The request to transfer credit must be concluded prior to the second semester registration period. For more information on policies governing transfer of credit, please refer to the NMSU ARP 4.61.

Only 1 letter of recommendation is required and must be from a current supervisor or manager who completes your performance evaluation and is knowledgeable about your work performance and experience.

You must observe a CRNA prior to applying to the program. You will need to plan on spending a minimum of 8 hours with each CRNA. We would prefer you shadowing 3 different CRNA’s. NMSU has created a CRNA Shadow Log where you can record your shadowing. Please submit this log with your program application.

The NMSU Nurse Anesthesiology program will accept 24 students each year.
Yes. CCRN (Pediatric) is a specialty certification for RNs/APRNs providing direct care to critically/acutely ill pediatric patients. Both certifications are administered by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN).
The courses do not expire. However, if your grade was 84% in any of those courses or if it has been greater than 5 years since you have taken the course, consider retaking the course to improve your admission packet and to re-engage your mind for active learning for a rigorous program.