DNP in Nurse Anesthesia

As experts in operating room safety and efficiency, certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) provide anesthesia care before, during, and after surgery, helping to ensure the best possible outcomes. They perform complete patient assessments, develop and implement anesthesia care plans, and closely monitor patients.

This 36-month, full-time program is accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs and is a collaborative effort with the Associated Physicians of Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians. In our program, students take advantage of the core courses common to all master of science nursing specialties, learn advanced physiologic and pharmacologic principles, and gain hands-on clinical experience.


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Boston College's 2021 national certification exam pass rate

Program Overview

The program in nurse anesthesia prepares registered nurses who already possess a baccalaureate degree in nursing and a minimum of one year of critical care experience for the advanced practice role of nurse anesthetist. The full-time, 100-credit curriculum over 36 months (May start) provides students with core and specialty theory courses and a structured practicum, all of which follow the standards of the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs. Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the National Certification Examination administered by the National Board on Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists to become certified registered nurse anesthetists.

Upon completing the DNP program in nurse anesthesia, the graduate will be able to:

  • Perform a detailed and complete preanesthetic assessment including obtaining a history and physical examination and reviewing laboratory data and pertinent information from the patient's medical record;
  • Develop a plan of anesthesia care based on scientific theory related to the patient's past medical and nursing history, current status, and surgical requirements;
  • Implement an anesthetic plan utilizing a broad spectrum of techniques based on sound physiology and established guidelines;
  • Incorporate patient safety considerations with regard to equipment check, positioning, and anesthetic administration;
  • Evaluate and adapt the anesthetic plan based on patient response and surgical considerations, utilizing physiologic and pharmacologic theories;
  • Demonstrate the ability to utilize a variety of anesthetic modalities including general and regional anesthetic techniques to patients across the lifespan;
  • Demonstrate the ability to utilize various invasive and non-invasive monitoring techniques and to interpret information obtained from them;
  • Utilize effectively a variety of non-anesthetic pharmacologic agents commonly used as adjuncts in anesthesia practice;
  • Rapidly synthesize essential information to develop and implement a plan of anesthesia care for emergency and trauma patients;
  • Develop and implement a plan of fluid and temperature management based on physiologic conditions;
  • Evaluate the patient post-operatively ensuring patient safety and comfort, identifying and consulting on any anesthesia-related complications;
  • Incorporate the study and evaluation of current literature into practice;
  • Function as a leader and resource in the area of airway management and critical care and as a member of the cardiopulmonary resuscitation team;
  • Demonstrate the qualities of the self-directed learner, striving to add knowledge and improve practice through self-critique;
  • Maintain legal and ethical standards of practice, accepting responsibility for one's own actions and judgments;
  • Maintain both advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) and pediatric advanced life support (PALS) certification.

Applicant Rights and Responsibilities

  • The applicant has the right to be treated with respect and to expect that their application will be reviewed fairly and without bias
  • The applicant has the right to receive accurate information regarding the program, the college, and the clinical sites
  • The applicant has the right to speak with faculty and/or current students in the program if they so desire
  • The applicant has the right to know the collective success of program graduates on the National Certification Examination
  • The applicant has the right to receive a letter from the Dean regarding the admission decision
  • The applicant is responsible for ensuring that the application and all supporting materials have been received by the graduate office
  • The applicant is responsible for accurate completion of the application
  • The applicant is responsible for any necessary arrangements related to the interview process
  • The applicant is responsible for notifying the graduate office if they wish to withdraw their application
  • The applicant is responsible for assessing and exploring any required financial aid

Faculty Rights and Responsibilities

  • The faculty have the right to be treated with respect by students and program administration
  • The faculty have the right to know the objectives for each course for which they are responsible
  • The faculty have the right to remove a student from the classroom or the clinical area if the integrity of the class or the safety of the patient may be compromised
  • The faculty have the right to see course evaluations and have the opportunity to discuss the evaluations with program administration
  • The faculty have the right and responsibility to provide feedback regarding the program, curriculum, and students and make suggestions for improvement
  • The faculty have the responsibility to be available during office hours for student questions
  • The faculty have the responsibility to demonstrate respect for the student and the learning process
  • The faculty have the responsibility to be prepared for each lecture with a good understanding of their subject matter
  • The faculty have the responsibility to evaluate the success of teaching strategies and the effectiveness of evaluation methods

Student Rights and Responsibilities

  • The student has the right to be treated with respect and as a member of the anesthesia care team
  • The student has the right to have the educational process viewed as an interactive exchange between student and teacher
  • The student has the right to meet with faculty during mutually agreed upon office hours
  • The student has the right to expect the faculty to be prepared for class
  • The student has the right to fair and timely evaluation of his/her progress and receive constructive suggestions for improvement
  • The student has the right and responsibility to provide feedback regarding the program, curriculum, and faculty and make suggestions for improvement
  • The student has the responsibility to be present and prepared for class and clinical
  • The student has the responsibility to know the objectives of the course or clinical experience and to make every effort to attain the objective
  • The student has the responsibility to complete all projects and assignments on time
  • The student has the responsibility to seek learning experiences and be available when these experiences can only be attained outside of scheduled hours
  • The student has the responsibility to respect faculty and other members of the perioperative team
  • The student has the responsibility to place patient safety ahead of all other considerations






SUMMER – Year 1

FALL – Year 1

SPRING – Year 1

Pharmacotherapeutics in Advanced Practice Nursing (3)

Foundations of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (3)

Pharmacotherapeutics in Nurse Anesthesia Practice (3)

Advanced Physiology and Pathophysiology across the Lifespan (3)

Cardiovascular Physiology & Pathophysiology For Nurse Anesthesia Practice (3) 

Nurse Anesthesia Care for Patients with Coexisting Diseases (3)

Epidemiology (3)

Nursing Ethics and Professional Responsibility in Advanced Practice (3)

Advanced Health/Physical Assessment across the Lifespan (3)

Chemistry, Biochemistry and Physics for Nurse Anesthesia Practice (3)

Population Health Principles, Program Planning and Evaluation (3)

Nursing Leadership in Complex Health Care Settings  (3)

Respiratory Physiology and Pathophysiology for Nurse Anesthesia Practice (3)

Examining Diversity in Nursing and Health Care (2)

Healthcare Quality Management (4)

   15 credits

14 credits

16 credits

SUMMER – Year 2

FALL – Year 2

SPRING – Year 2


Nurse Anesthesia Clinical Practice I (5)


Nurse Anesthesia Clinical Practice II (5)


Nurse Anesthesia Clinical Practice III (5)

Advanced Practice Principles for the Nurse Anesthetist I (3)


Advanced Practice Principles for the Nurse Anesthetist II (3)


Health Care Policy for Nursing Leaders (3)

Health Care Information Technology Management (4)

Foundations of Evidence-Based Advanced Nursing Practice (3)

Methods of Advanced Scholarly Inquiry (3)

Advanced Practice Nursing Role (2)



14 credits

11 credits

11 credits

SUMMER – Year 3

FALL – Year 3

SPRING – Year 3

Nurse Anesthesia Clinical Practice IV (5)

Nurse Anesthesia Clinical Practice V (5)

Nurse Anesthesia Clinical Practice VI (5)

DNP Project Seminar 1 (2)

DNP Project Seminar 2 (2)


7 credits

7 credits

5 credits


100 credits total




Conduct a thorough pre-anesthesia assessment synthesizing data obtained through patient history and physical examination together with that available through facility information systems.


Create a patient-specific and evidence-based plan of anesthesia care incorporating the requirements of the planned surgical procedure.


Actualize a plan of anesthesia care incorporating various techniques according to established guidelines and current research.


Demonstrate leadership with regard to patient safety standards in all aspects of anesthesia care.


Critically analyze patient response to anesthesia and surgery and modify the plan accordingly.


Discriminate among various anesthetic techniques, selecting the best approach for all patients across the lifespan.


Evaluate the need for and interpret information from various monitoring modalities for each individual patient.



Formulate and implement a strategy for maintaining perioperative homeostasis through the use of adjunctive medications, fluid replacement, and thermoregulation.


Provide anesthesia care across the perioperative continuum insuring safety, comfort, and consultation for other professionals.


Engage in self-reflection as a basis for professional growth and improved patient care.


Utilize current evidence from the literature as a basis for clinical decision-making.


Integrate professional, legal and ethical standards of care acknowledging personal accountability for decision-making in nurse anesthesia practice.


Students rotate among 3-6 clinical sites and experience a variety of practice settings. The program believes it important that students obtain the maximum benefit from their clinical education and for that reason rotations will be decided by need rather than geographic convenience.

  • Beth Israel Deaconess – Milton Hospital
  • Beth Israel Deaconess – Plymouth Hospital
  • Boston Children’s Hospital
  • Boston Medical Center
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Cambridge Hospital
  • Carney Hospital
  • Concord Hospital
  • Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center
  • Elliot Hospital
  • Holy Family Hospital
  • Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Mount Auburn Hospital
  • New England Baptist Hospital
  • North Shore Medical Center – Salem Hospital
  • South Shore Hospital
  • St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center
  • Tufts Medical Center
  • Melrose Wakefield Hospital
  1. I am an RN with an associate’s degree in nursing and a Bachelor of Science degree in another field. Can I apply to your program?
    The Boston College nurse anesthesia program requires a BSN or an MSN degree for admission.
  2. What is considered “critical care experience”?
    Critical care experience must be obtained in a critical care area within the United States, its territories, or a US military hospital outside of the United States. During this experience, the registered professional nurse is to have developed critical decision-making and psychomotor skills, competency in patient assessment, and the ability to use and interpret advanced monitoring techniques. A critical care area is defined as one where, on a routine basis, the registered professional nurse manages one or more of the following: invasive hemodynamic monitors (such as pulmonary artery catheter, CVP, arterial); cardiac assist devices; mechanical ventilation; and vasoactive drips. Acceptable critical care experience includes ICU, SICU, CCU, MICU, PICU, or NICU. High acuity surgical ICU in a tertiary medical center is strongly preferred.
  3. My application has been submitted prior to the deadline but I may not have completed the GRE exam or obtained all reference letters by that date. Will my application be considered?
    All application information including official GRE scores must be received prior to the deadline for consideration. It is the applicant’s responsibility to be sure that their application is complete.
  4. I will complete the one year of critical care experience during the first semester of the program. Is this acceptable?
    The year minimum of one year of critical care experience is an admission requirement and so must be completed prior to the deadline.
  5. I am an experienced ICU RN with an associate’s degree and will complete my BSN in December. Can I be considered for January admission?
    Verification of BSN completion must arrive prior to the application deadline.
  6. How can I obtain an academic reference since I have been out of my undergraduate program for 10 years?
    An academic reference is required and if you contact your school a reference will be written for you based on your academic record.
  7. Do you do rolling admissions? When are interviews scheduled?
    No, we do not have rolling admissions. Interviews will be schedule upon completion of applicant review.
  8. Are all applicants granted an interview?
    All qualified applicants are granted an interview.
  9. What are the average GPA and GRE scores for your accepted applicants?
    Accepted applicants tend to possess an average GPA of 3.6. The average percentile scores on the Graduate Record Exam tend to be at or above the 50th percent.
  10. Is a course in organic chemistry or physics required for admission to your program?
    A specific course is not required. It is assumed that in your undergraduate program you completed a course in health sciences chemistry, which will serve as a foundation for program coursework.
  11. Is it possible to work during the program?
    The decision to work during the program is an individual one but is not recommended. As the program is only offered in a full-time format, the number of credit hours each semester varies but is as high as 15 credits per semester. Once the clinical component begins in the third semester, students are in class one full day and in the operating room four full days with care plans and coursework that must be completed in the evenings and on weekends. The workload of the program makes it very difficult to work.
  12. Can I begin taking courses before being accepted into the program?
    You can apply to take 2 courses as a “special student” without being matriculated into the graduate program. The successful completion of these courses does not, however, give you an advantage over other applicants to the program.
  13. I have taken a course that I think is the same as one of your courses. Do I have to retake the course at BC?
    It is possible to transfer up to 6 credits of graduate work earned elsewhere. Only courses in which a student has obtained a grade of “B” or better, and which have not been applied to another degree, will be accepted. Following acceptance into the program you would need to provide the graduate office with copies of course syllabi as well as other documentation so that the associate dean for graduate programs can compare your course to that at BC. All nurse anesthesia courses must be completed at BC.
  14. I am currently working at a hospital that will allow me to go there for my clinical anesthesia experience. Is this allowed?
    No. Clinical sites are determined by the program.
  15. Will I obtain experience in regional anesthesia?
    The Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs requires a certain number of regional anesthesia experiences and therefore you will obtain this experience.
  16. Does the program offer a stipend?
    The program does not offer a stipend.
  17. Is financial aid available?
    Most financial aid is in the form of student loans.
  18. What are the tuition costs?
    Tuition for students in the nurse anesthesia program is the same as for other graduate nursing students.
  19. I do not have a current Massachusetts nursing license; can I still apply?
    A current Massachusetts nursing license is required upon beginning the program, though is not needed for consideration to the program.