Anesthetist with students

Master of Science in Nursing — Nurse Anesthesia

Nurse anesthetists ensure patient safety and comfort before, during, and after complex and routine procedures.  

Campus Location


  • On Campus

Program Duration

  • 27 Months (Seven Semesters)

Upcoming Deadlines

Anesthesia Doctorate of Nursing Practice Program

Advanced Practice Care Specialist

It’s common for a patient to worry about experiencing pain or awareness during an operation. A caring, compassionate professional at the bedside can make a big difference in helping a patient and their loved ones feel safe and secure as they prepare for and recover from surgery or another procedure.

Certified registered nurse anesthetists, or CRNAs, work alongside physicians, dentists, anesthesiologists, and other health care professionals to administer anesthesia and related medications. This could mean a general sedative to put a patient in a deep sleep during surgery, a local anesthetic for a minor outpatient procedure such as a biopsy, or a regional anesthesia such as an epidural during childbirth. CRNAs monitor patients as they’re receiving the anesthesia, as well as oversee them through their recovery.

CRNAs may provide a variety of anesthesia care in a number of medical settings such as:

  • Operating rooms

  • Outpatient centers

  • Emergency rooms

  • Delivery rooms

  • Dental offices

Together with other advanced practice nurses, these specialists often fill gaps in medically underserved communities. For example, nurse anesthetists often serve as the sole providers of anesthesia care at rural hospitals. SMU’s CRNA program has a special focus on preparing nurses to provide ethical  culturally sensitive anesthetic care to patients of all backgrounds.

Nurse anesthetists have a great amount of responsibility and are highly valued members of the patient care team. That’s why this advanced practice registered nursing specialty is among the most well-paid and well-respected in the profession.

What we look for:

  • Compassion
  • Interpersonal/interprofessional communication
  • Teamwork
  • Critical thinking
  • Responsibility

Featured Events

Program Requirements & Info

During its October 13 – 15, 2021 meeting, the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) reviewed the outline completed by the program to measure program compliance with the COA’s policy and procedure, "Doctoral Degree Approval (for entry into nurse anesthesia practice)," as described in the COA’s Accreditation Policies and Procedures manual. The COA is pleased to inform the Samuel Merritt University Program of Nurse Anesthesia of the approval of the doctoral degree program for entry into practice. COA directors found the program's response to be in compliance with the Standards and requirements contained in the COA’s policy and procedure for evaluating nurse anesthesia programs as authorized in its recognized scope of accreditation authority. The decision recognizes the program for providing a graduate-level curriculum leading to the award of a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.

The application to apply to the Anesthesia Doctorate of Nursing Practice Program will open in NursingCAS on December 1st, 2021, and close on February 1st, 2022. Virtual interviews for admission to the program will be held April 25-28th, 2022.

The Class of 2023 matriculated in the fall 2021 semester and will be the final Nurse Anesthesia MSN cohort at SMU. 

  • Admission to the CRNA program is competitive. Applicants are considered for admission to the proposed Anesthesia Doctorate of Nursing Practice Program currently being reviewed by the COA will be based upon the following criteria:
    • Baccalaureate, Master's, or Doctoral degree in nursing from a regionally accredited college or university. Official transcripts of all previous academic and professional coursework completed or in progress prior to admission must be submitted with the application.
    • Current unencumbered RN license in the state of California by program orientation.
    • Evidence of experience in clinical practice as a registered nurse with a minimum of 12 months of critical care experience as a registered nurse within the United States, its territories, or a US Military Hospital outside of the United States within the last 5 years at the time of application although 2-3 years of critical care experience is preferred. Practice areas that are considered critical care include surgical intensive care (including trauma, post-cardiovascular surgery, and neurosurgical specialty units), medical intensive care units, and pediatric and neonatal intensive care units. Emergency Room, PACU, Critical Care Transport,  Cardiac Catheterization Lab, and Flight Nursing do not fulfill the critical care experience requirement to apply. 
    • GPA requirements to apply
      • A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher; the average in the MSN program for the Class of 2023 was 3.5.

      • A minimum last 60 semester or 90 quarter units grade point average of 3.0 or higher; the average in the MSN program for the Class of 2023 was 3.6

      • A minimum science course work grade point average of 3.0 or higher; the average in the MSN program for the Class of 2023 was 3.5
    • Adult, Pediatric, or Neonatal CCRN certification from AACN is required to apply.
    • A written goal statement and additional writing prompts as described in the application
    • Three letters of recommendation are required. 
    • Eight (8) hours of clinical shadowing experience with a CRNA is required* (may be waived in lieu of an interview with a CRNA due to facility restriction related to the COVID-19 pandemic).
    • Current BLS, ACLS, and PALS certifications are not required to apply but must be current upon matriculation.
    • Additional prerequisite coursework is NOT required.

    • The GRE is NOT required.

Prerequisite coursework in physics, chemistry, biochemistry, and statistics is NOT required for the  Anesthesia Doctorate of Nursing Practice Program.

Selection of candidates for interview will be based on criteria listed above, quality and presentation of application material, quality and professionalism of communication with the program during the application process, and an informed understanding of the role of a CRNA. Not all qualified candidates may be interviewed and not all interviewed candidates will be accepted. The program faculty reserves the right to interview and accept qualified students at any time after the application deadline. The format of interviews (in-person or via video) is at the discretion and to be determined by the program admissions committee


Application Fees
Application fees are payable to Nursing’s Centralized Application Service (NursingCAS). Samuel Merritt University does not charge an additional admission fee.

Non-Refundable Deposits and Fees
Students offered admission pay a non-refundable tuition deposit of $350 to secure their seat in the class.

Application fees and tuition deposits are non-refundable, whether or not the student withdraws in the first week of the term.

Tuition Calculator
There is a tuition calculator that provides a detailed summary of annual tuition, all fees for the MSN program, and a cost estimator for the entire program. The annual tuition, all fees for the proposed Anesthesia Doctorate of Nursing Practice program under review and awaiting a decision by the Council of Accreditation is to be determined.

Tuition Calculator

Your nursing education at Samuel Merritt University is an important and valuable investment in your future.  Not only will you have the opportunity to pursue a rewarding career in health care, but Samuel Merritt University graduates have a loan default rate of less than one percent.  This means that students who borrowed to attend Samuel Merritt University have found employment in their chosen field that allows them to pay off their loans. 

Samuel Merritt University is proud to offer a variety of ways to assist in funding your education including scholarships, work study and student loans. The first step in applying for financial aid at SMU is to submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

SMU offers scholarships and an assortment of resources for funding opportunities outside of the program. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of financial need. A limited number are awarded for academic merit. Scholarships for Nurses include:

  • Sharon Clark Diaz
  • Employee Campaign
  • Marshall Steele, Jr.
  • Hitchcock Heydman
  • Henry & Bernice Bigge
  • Faculty Scholarship
  • Alumni Scholarship
  • Elks of the Year
  • William Breslin

In addition to the cost of tuition, books and fees, financial aid can also cover other indirect educational costs, so the total cost of attendance includes:

  • Books and Supplies
  • Room and Board
  • Transportation
  • Personal Expenses
  • Other fees as determined by program/college

Once you receive your financial aid package, check this budget against your actual living expenses and we can make necessary adjustments to meet your needs.

Detailed information about financial aid, budgeting, total cost and application processes are available on the webpage.

We realize that the financial aid process can be difficult and overwhelming.  We are here to help.  Financial Aid staff can assist with budgeting, understanding your awards and understanding the process.  The SMU staff is committed to each and every prospective student and enrolled student.  We have an open door policy and are available via phone or email. or 510-879-9200

Clinical Sites

Community Regional Medical Center, Fresno

David Grant Medical Center, Travis Air Force Base, Fairfield

Fresno Veterans Administration Medical Center, Fresno

Highland General Hospital, Oakland

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Walnut Creek

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Pleasanton

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Antioch

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Fresno

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Honolulu

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Roseville

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, North Sacramento

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Oakland

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Richmond

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Redwood City

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Santa Clara

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Francisco

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Jose

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Fremont     

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Leandro

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Rafael

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Santa Rosa

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, South Sacramento

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, South San Francisco

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Vacaville

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Vallejo

Mercy Medical Center, Mount Shasta

San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco

San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center, San Francisco

San Joaquin General Hospital, French Camp

Sutter Medical Center Sacramento

Stanford Medical Center, Palo Alto

UC Davis Medical Center, Sacramento

UCSF Mission Bay Hospital, San Francisco

UCSF Parnassus Hospital, San Francisco

UCSF Mount Zion Hospital, San Francisco

Kaweah Delta Medical Center, Visalia

Visalia Children's Dental Surgery Center, Visalia

Graduates of our accredited program will be eligible to take the national certification exam (NCE) to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist. 

Clinical practice rights are granted by reciprocity in all states after successful completion of the NCE. 

MSN Attrition, Certification Exams, Graduation, and Employment Rates

2020 Attrition Rate (COA) 0%
2019 Attrition Rate (COA) 0%
2018 Attrition Rate (COA) 0%

NCE (NBCRNA) Pass Rates (1st Time/Subsequent Pass Rate)

2020 Pass Rates 67%/93%
2019 Pass Rates 85%/96%
2018 Pass Rates 88%/100%

2018-2020 Pass Rate Average 80%/96%

Graduation Rate*
2019-2020 Cohort      100%
2018-2019 Cohort      96%
2017-2018 Cohort      96%

*%  of Entering Cohort Graduated Within 150%  of Expected Time

Employment Rate in the Profession (within six months of graduation)**

2019-2020 graduating class     93%
2018-2019 graduating class     96%
2017-2018 graduating class     100%

**Employment data only includes graduates who responded to SMU Alumni Survey; employment rate not necessarily representative of graduates who did not respond to SMU Alumni Survey.

Samuel Merritt University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501; 510.748.9001. 

The Program of Nurse Anesthesia is accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA). The Program underwent a reaccreditation review in Fall 2013 and was granted continued accreditation for the maximum period of 10 years effective May 30, 2014. The program was found in full compliance with the Standards of Accreditation for Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs and will be scheduled for its next consideration of continued accreditation in Spring 2024.

The COA requires that all students matriculating into a nurse anesthesia educational program on January 1, 2022, or thereafter be enrolled in a program approved by the COA to award a practice doctoral degree. The PNA applied to transition in the fall of 2022 to an entry to practice DNP and is expecting a decision by the Council of Accreditation (COA) of Nurse Anesthesia Education Programs by late fall of 2021.

Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs
222 S. Prospect Avenue
Park Ridge, IL 60068-1160

The master's and doctoral degree programs in nursing at Samuel Merritt University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC., 20001.

Master's Accreditation
Initial Accreditation Date: April 21, 2001
Most Recent Accreditation Date: November 2-4, 2020
Accreditation Term Expires: June 30, 2031
Last On-Site Evaluation: Fall 2020
Next On-Site Evaluation: Fall 2030

DNP Accreditation
Initial Accreditation Date: September 24, 2012
Most Recent Accreditation Date: November 2-4, 2020
Accreditation Term Expires: June 30, 2031
Last On-Site Evaluation: Fall 2020
Next On-Site Evaluation: Fall 2030

The Program of Nurse Anesthesia (PNA) strives to educate outstanding clinicians who demonstrate a high level of competence in the full scope of anesthesia practice. We are committed to providing innovative educational opportunities that engender reasoned, safe, culturally sensitive, evidence-based practice, and practitioners who value integrity and professionalism. The following technical standards, in conjunction with the academic standards, are requirements for admission, promotion, and graduation. The term “candidate” refers to candidates for admission to the PNA program as well as current PNA students who are candidates for retention, promotion, or graduation.

These requirements may be achieved with or without reasonable accommodations, the cost of which will be borne by the institution. These standards should not serve as a deterrent to any candidate with disabilities who desires to pursue a medical education. Candidates with disabilities bring unique perspectives which contribute to the diversity of the student population and will create a diverse healthcare workforce of culturally competent practitioners who can meet the needs of their patients. Candidates with disabilities are encouraged to contact the Disability Resource Center immediately upon acceptance to begin a confidential conversation about possible accommodations necessary to meet these standards. Fulfillment of the technical standards for graduation from the FNP program does not guarantee that a graduate will be able to fulfill the technical requirements of any specific clinical position.

Observational skills:  A candidate must acquire information as presented through demonstrations and experiences in foundational sciences. Also, a candidate must be able to evaluate a patient accurately and assess relevant health, behavioral and medical information.  Candidates must be able to obtain and interpret information through a comprehensive assessment of patients, correctly interpret diagnostic representations of patient physiologic data, and accurately evaluate patient conditions and responses. Also, candidates must have sufficient capacity to make accurate observations, interpret and effectively participate in the context of patient care and simulated learning activities.  

Communication skills:  Candidate must be able to perceive changes in mood, activity, posture; and accurately interpret verbal and non-verbal communications from patients and others. Each candidate must have the ability to effectively communicate with patients, their family members, and other professionals in health care and classroom settings.  The candidate must be able to document patient care to maintain accurate clinical records effectively. 

Motor skills:  The candidate must perform complete physical examinations utilizing multiple types of diagnostic maneuvers. A candidate must be able to perform and assist with procedures, treatments, administration of medication, management and operation of diagnostic and therapeutic medical equipment utilized in the initial administration, maintenance and emergent of anesthesia for patients. The candidate must possess the stamina to meet the demands associated with satisfactory and safe performance in clinical and classroom settings.

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities:  Candidates must be able to learn through a variety of modalities, including but not limited to, classroom instruction; laboratory, including cadaver lab; small group, team and collaborative activities; individual study; preparation and presentation of reports; and use of computer technology.  A candidate must effectively interpret, assimilate and understand the complex information required to function within the PNA curriculum including, but not limited to, the ability to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of structures; effectively participate in individual, small group, and lecture learning modalities in the classroom, clinical and community settings; learn, participate, collaborate and contribute as a part of a team; synthesize information both in person and via remote technology; interpret causal connections and make accurate, fact-based conclusions based on available data and information; formulate a hypothesis, investigate the potential answers and outcomes; and reach appropriate and accurate conclusions. A candidate must be able to find sources of knowledge and acquire the knowledge through various modalities and possess the ability to be a life-long learner.

Behavioral and Social Attributes:  Candidates must possess the physical, mental and emotional health required for the application of intellectual abilities and the employment of sound judgment appropriately and promptly. Candidates must be able to function effectively under physically taxing workloads and in times of physical and mental stress. Candidates must accept constructive criticism, display compassion, sensitivity, and empathy while maintaining professional integrity, in addition to professional moral and ethical standards at all times.

Why SMU for Registered Nurse Anesthetist?

We've been preparing nurse professionals for success in the field for more than 100 years.


Teacher to Student Ratio

At SMU, we're all about small classes and personalized education.


Graduates Employed Within Six Months of Graduation

Our nurse anesthetists are heavily recruited experts in their field.


Annual Median Salary for Nurse Anesthetists in California

CRNAs are among the highest paid RNs in the field.



Jake Sareerak

DNP, RN Adjunct Assistant Professor

Joseph Janakes

MSN, CRNA Program Director, MSN Nurse Anesthesia Assistant Professor
Kevin Hamby

Kevin Hamby

MSN, CRNA Associate Director, MSN Nurse Anesthesia Assistant Professor

Ora Bollinger

MSN, CRNA Assistant Professor

SMU Perspectives

MSN-Nurse Anesthesia, SMU Magazine
Samuel Merritt was there at the very infancy stages of the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program, and they embraced and invited us to come to campus at a time when others didn't," Wallena Gould, Diversity CRNA founder and director.
Someone Like Me Nurse anesthetists have become more diverse at SMU and nationwide thanks to a pivotal alliance