The Top 10 Best Online Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice Degrees in 2022 

Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice - featured image

The field of nursing is vast and filled with a wealth of career opportunities. It is possible for one to specialize and expand their knowledge and skills in a specific discipline. One of the best nursing practice degrees can be found in the nurse anesthetist specialization.

Working closely with anesthesiologists, surgeons, and other physicians, nurse anesthetists are responsible for administering anesthesia and monitoring patients as they recover from anesthesia.

According to the BLS, nurse anesthetists can receive a median pay of $123,780 every year. Beyond the clinical settings, one can also have a wealth of other job opportunities. This includes didactic positions such as clinical professor, program director, researcher, and many more.


Overview:

To become a nurse anesthetist, aspirants must first gain the necessary education, training, and certification. At the very least, they will need to be a registered nurse and hold a master’s degree from an accredited university. If they want to boost their professional credentials, however, earning a Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice degree program can be a great gateway to a successful career as a nurse anesthetist.


Methodology

Certain universities and colleges offer a Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice program, usually designed for CRNAs. While most nursing anesthesia programs are offered on campus, these top-rated, accredited online or hybrid programs excel because of these features:

  • Offered in a blended web-based and on-campus instruction format that makes it easier for working CRNAs to pursue a more advanced education without compromising their budding career and personal responsibilities,
  • Offers the most advanced academic knowledge that enables Certified Nurse Anesthetists to pursue research-based career opportunities and contribute to the practice,
  • Gives students opportunities to conduct or present their research through publications and network with their peers through conferences and seminars,
  • Features strong faculty and support for doctorate students,
  • Offers financial support programs.

Need more information on our doctorate ranking and selection? Check out our Methodology.


Top 10 Best Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs

Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University

Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice

Aiming to provide students with the necessary skills and knowledge to serve the public through delivering safe, cost-efficient, and quality anesthesia services, Virginia Commonwealth University offers a Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice.

This doctor of nursing practice program advances the anesthesia specialization that will allow you to apply theories that promote the anesthesia practice, effectively communicate with patients, demonstrate leadership skills to overcome challenges in complex healthcare environments, and develop effective strategies in the management of ethical dilemmas. 

It is one of the nurse anesthesia programs that is offered in a hybrid format, which is ideal for working professionals who still need to work full-time. The program requires students to complete a doctoral project and earn a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all courses. They will need to meet a total of 93 credit hours in order to graduate. 


Johns Hopkins University

Doctor of Nursing Practice – Nurse Anesthesia

The Johns Hopkins University, located in Baltimore, Maryland is undoubtedly one of the country’s top institutions when it comes to medicine and healthcare education, consistently making the top ranks for its various programs year-on-year.

JHU offers its 3-year, COA-Accredited, DNP-Nurse Anesthesia as a hybrid program, delivering a mix of online coursework together with clinical experience at Johns Hopkins Hospitals and in partner institutions. It is designed for RNs with a minimum of 1-year full-time experience in Critical Care settings but is also ideal for RNs with an entry-level Master of Science in Nursing who have the required clinical experience.

Students in the Johns Hopkins University’s BSN to DNP/Post-BSN to DNP program will learn to administer anesthesia in a wide array of clinical settings, to patients in a wide array of populations and age brackets.

Prospective students get to train in interprofessional teams with the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, use cutting-edge simulation technology, and also become associate members of the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (AANA). JHU’s curriculum also includes advanced preparation for the certification exam administered by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA).


National University

Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice

The National University’s Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP) program is available both online and on-site. The hybrid format allows working adults to complete the program in as few as three years, including a didactic residency at the Fresno campus.

The program’s focus is on highly relevant nurse anesthesia courses such as systems analysis, leadership, quality assessment and improvement, policy analysis, and more. Students will need to take part in clinical courses at an affiliate hospital. This will provide them with hands-on experience when it comes to the administration of anesthesia to patients.

The degree allows students to make necessary preparations for the National Certification Exam (NCE), which is integral to becoming a CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist). Students need to complete the core requirements with a total of 34 courses and 138 quarter units. It is important to note that the DNAP courses must be earned in the set sequence.


Duquesne University

Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP)

Duquesne University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, offers its DNAP program in partnership with the Allegheny School of Anesthesia (ASOA). The program is a hybrid of online courses, face-to-face classes, and lab practicums, on top of direct patient care experience. The COA-accredited program spans 3 years/9 semesters and consists of a total of 92 credit hours.

The didactic & non-anesthesia component of the program is taught by Duquesne University’s School of Nursing, with science courses taught by DU’s Rangos School of Health Sciences, while the Anesthesia courses are taught by the ASOA. Clinical practicums are likewise conducted at the ASOA’s network of over 16 COA-approved clinical sites.

The program is meant for holders of either a BS or BSN degree; prospective students that already have Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist status and want to obtain doctoral credentials are not eligible. Aside from possible financial aid opportunities from DU and the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology, Duquesne also offers Corporate Tuition Deferment for eligible employed students.


Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia

Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia

Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice

The Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP) that the Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia offers is an excellent option for pursuing the highest practice degree in the field of nurse anesthesia.

The online format makes the program an ideal choice for working CRNAs as it is specifically designed to suit their educational needs, with each course featuring specific nurse anesthesia content. In fact, one of the primary program requirements is being a licensed CRNA.

This DNAP program showcases a curriculum with an emphasis on education, administration, and business management related to nursing anesthesia. To earn the degree, students must complete the required foundational courses along with the scholarly project. They can typically complete the program within two years.

Program admission requirements include completion of a master’s degree with a nurse anesthesia focus. A minimum of 3.0 cumulative GPA is also required.


The University of Arizona

Doctor of Nursing Practice – Nurse Anesthesia

The University of Arizona’s Doctor of Nursing Practice degree with a Nurse Anesthesia concentration. With a total of 85 credit units, this hybrid program curriculum utilizes a combination of online didactic coursework, on-ground practicum, on-campus intensives, and a clinical residency.

There is an emphasis on practical knowledge and skills, thereby requiring the proper implementation and application of credible research findings.

This DNP program aims to prepare ICU nurses in providing adequate and quality anesthesia care through expert knowledge and practice. Some of the coursework in the curriculum include Human Gross Anatomy, Bioscience for Nurse Anesthesia Practice, DNP Philosophy, Health Policy and Economics, Evidence-based Practice Methods, and Health Assessment, among others.

Students with a BSN degree or those currently pursuing a post-master’s degree with ICU experience are qualified to apply for admission. The program is only available full-time. Earning this degree means having the eligibility to lodge an application for a CRNA certification.  


University of Pittsburgh

Doctor of Nursing Practice – Nurse Anesthesia major

The University of Pittsburgh ranks seventh nationwide in US News and World Report’s 2023 Best Nursing Grad Schools. It currently offers 5 DNP Tracks that include its online MSN to DNP  Nurse Anesthesia concentration. The other tracks are Health Systems Executive Leadership, Nurse Practitioner, Nurse-Midwife, and Clinical Nurse Specialist.

The practice-focused MSN to DNP Nurse Anesthesia program track has a total of 36 credits. Aimed at preparing its students for nursing leadership roles, its curriculum focuses on topics that include evidence-based clinical practice, informatics, organizational and systems leadership, patient safety, molecular therapeutics, and health care policy, among others.

The degree program culminates in a synthesis DNP project. Topic/focus areas for the final DNP project may include quality improvement projects, clinical demonstration projects, developing a clinical program, conducting policy analysis, or patient care outcomes and safety improvement.

The University of Pittsburgh also offers an equivalent Onsite BSN to DNP Nurse Anesthesia education.


Murray State University

Doctor of Nursing Practice: Nursing Anesthesia (BSN to DNP)

Kentucky’s Murray State University offers two Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) tracks: Nurse Anesthesia and Family Nurse Practitioner. Murray State’s COA-accredited Nurse Anesthesia DNP track is operated as a partnership with Baptist Health Deaconess Madisonville and is a 3-year hybrid program with a total of 84 credit hours.

Baptist Health has a special emphasis on providing medical care to rural areas and settings, and this is reflected in the DNP program’s clinical experience component: an array of diverse clinical settings, with a special focus on rural settings. 

The DNP program starts with didactics, and the number of in-person and on-site experience components increases as the student progresses through the degree. The first year of the program (2 semesters) is delivered 100% online, while clinical education during the second year is offered either at Baptist Health Deaconess Madisonville or at the St. Joseph Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky.

Clinical Experience during the third year takes place across a variety of settings throughout Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

The class size of Murray State’s graduate nurse anesthesia education is small, which means greater interaction between students and faculty, and better focus is given to students. Murray State also offers in-state tuition rates for all its students and prides itself on a high certification pass rate.

Midwestern University

Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP)

Designed for CRNAs, Midwestern University’s Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP) is a good foundation for those who want to become a leader in the field of nurse anesthesia. This online program is both available in full-time and part-time formats and can be completed in one to two years.

The degree received approval from the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs. Students will be able to qualify for the program if they have completed a graduate degree in nurse anesthesia or equivalent from a regionally accredited college. They must also be licensed to practice as a Registered Nurse and hold a certification to practice as a CRNA.

One can only earn the degree by completing and passing all the DNAP program courses within the curriculum with a passing grade of more than 80%. They must also get a recommendation for conferral of the doctoral degree from the University Faculty Senate.

Newman University

Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP)

Newman University based in Wichita, Kansas, is one of the many nursing schools that offers a DNP program delivered in a hybrid format. The program contains a total of 88 credit hours and spans 36 months, over 9 continuous and sequential semesters.

The program is for registered nurses that aim to attain CRNA status. Didactic curriculum components are taught at Newman University, while the program’s Clinical Anesthesia component is carried out at partner local and regional hospitals.

As with most Nurse Anesthesia doctoral programs nationwide, a course in Statistics is a prerequisite, and it is preferred if a prospective student has certifications in Life Support (BLS, ACLS, and PALS), or better yet, Critical Care (CCRN) Certification.

Students can expect a structured transition from primarily didactic work in their first year, down to clinical practicum stints and completion of the required doctoral scholarly work in their third year.

Meanwhile, students get introduced to clinical anesthesia and get to explore nursing leadership issues and topics in their second year. Third Year students also enter into preparation for the Self-Evaluation Examination (SEE) as well as the National Certification Examination (NCE).

As part of their clinical experience, students get to immerse in a variety of clinical settings, which include rural anesthesia practice, teaching hospitals, all the way up to Level 1 Trauma Centers, and administer around 1006 anesthetics over 2054 hours of direct anesthesia care. Lastly, Newman accommodates a variety of financial aid options including FAFSA and employer tuition reimbursement.

Online Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice - fact

Anesthesiologists and Nurse-Anesthetists: Similarities and Differences

Although the two might be confusing, there are key similarities between Anesthesiologists and Nurse-Anesthetists. At the very core, Anesthesiologists are physicians (MDs), while Nurse-Anesthetists (or CRNAs) are nurses. Both have gone through further specialized education and training, although both professions are regulated by different governing bodies.

Anesthesiologists and CRNAs have largely similar roles. Within the context of administering anesthetics for medical procedures, they can both perform patient preparation, which includes an assessment of the patient’s history to find any potential sensitivities or possible sources of complications.

Both are also qualified to administer the anesthetics themselves, and they also perform monitoring during procedures, as well as manage patient recovery and pain management, if needed.  

Larger hospitals will almost always have an anesthesiology team, composed of an Anesthesiologist and several CRNAs. Anesthesiologists invariably have superior and longer training and experience than CRNAs (it takes longer to become an Anesthesiologist), and as such they take more leadership roles, supervising one or more teams of CRNAs.

They often delegate tasks and oversee CRNAs in more routine procedures while tending to the most critical cases personally.

A key fact though is that in smaller settings, CRNAs tend to be the primary anesthesia providers. According to the AANA, CRNAs make up 80% of the providers of anesthesia services in rural counties.

While they have largely similar tasks and perform as complementary members of a medical team, each with their own workplace responsibilities, Anesthesiologists overall have greater independence than CRNAs. They can hold independent clinical practice in all states, while CRNAs are allowed to practice independently in 30 US States.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is an APRN?

APRN stands for Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (also sometimes called an Advanced Practice Nurse/APN, but APRN is recommended). These are professional registered nurses who have undergone additional training and graduate education beyond the Nursing bachelor’s degree and have passed the necessary licensure examinations.

What is CRNA? 

Most DNAP programs are designed to cater to the needs of CRNAs or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists. A CRNA – Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist is a type of APRN that specializes in administering and managing anesthetics in a variety of clinical settings such as surgeries, rural clinics, or with dentists.

Because of the critical nature of their function, CRNAs receive the highest level of education and also go through the most intensive training among all nurses.

They are often licensed and certified to administer anesthesia and can work in a wide range of practice settings. This includes hospitals, dental offices, pain management centers, and public heart centers, among others. CRNAs often work closely with anesthesiologists in a team practice or they can also work alone in a facility or community.

To become a CRNA, one needs to have a graduate degree, clinical practice, and certification. A DNAP program is a good stepping stone when it comes to becoming a CRNA. 

What are the typical requirements in applying for a Nurse Anesthesia degree?

A Doctor of Nursing Practice – Anesthesia is an advanced nursing degree. The most basic requirements are that applicants should have a bachelor’s degree in Nursing (or a Master’s Degree in Nursing for some universities) from an accredited institution, and hold an active and unrestricted nursing (RN) license.

As it is relevant to the DNP curriculum, applicants must have taken courses in Statistics and Chemistry beforehand. Lastly, aside from references and recommendations, universities will typically require applicants to demonstrate good writing skills appropriate to graduate-level education.  

What is Shadowing?

Shadowing essentially means a structured and programmed way of following and observing a professional, with the intention of getting a firsthand picture of their work, and of seeing whether or not that job is right for you. While it is commonly held for senior high school students, some universities see it as a plus if DNP applicants have had experience shadowing a CRNA.

How many years of experience do you need to get admitted into a Doctor of Nursing Anesthesia Practice program?

This largely depends on the university. However, most applicants are required to meet the minimum recent experience requirement of at least one year in order to qualify for the program. It is safe to have at least 3 years of critical experience to give one the foundation they need to succeed.

To be sure, prospective students must check the requirements of the institution where they plan to apply to save time and effort.

Key Takeaways

The practice of anesthesia is integral in many healthcare settings. Those who wish to pursue this advanced profession can enjoy a rewarding and meaningful career. They present a wide range of options when it comes to their workplace settings, too, from hospitals and pain clinics to endoscopy centers and dental offices.

A Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice degree program does not only give them the opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills to become certified nurse anesthetists. It is also a good way to expand their clinical experience, improve nurse anesthesia practice, and attain leadership positions in the healthcare industry.


Additional Resources:

Dr. Jared Goff
Chief Editor