Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are experiencing a surge in demand, with employment projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showing a 9% increase until 2032. This growth is driven by an aging population, greater emphasis on preventive care, and the unique role that CRNAs play in delivering anesthesia services, particularly in rural areas where they account for more than 80% of anesthesia providers in rural areas.

The Expanding Role of CRNAs

State laws define CRNAs' scope of practice. CRNAs can work in a variety of settings, such as ambulatory surgical centers, non-operating room anesthesia areas, hospitals, and office-based environments, providing anesthesia for diagnostic, surgical, and therapeutic procedures.

CRNAs are the sole anesthesia providers in about one-third of hospitals and more than two-thirds of rural hospitals in the United States. They support a range of specialties, including general surgery, obstetrics, trauma, cardiac, orthopedic, dental, gastrointestinal, and plastic surgery.

Each year, CRNAs administer over 50 million anesthetics in the United States. They are especially critical in serving medically underserved populations and military personnel, often working independently in rural areas where access to anesthesia care is limited.

States Where CRNAs Can Practice Independently

The scope of practice for CRNAs varies by state, with some states allowing CRNAs to work without anesthesiologist supervision.

The following states permit CRNAs to practice independently:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington D.C., Washington State, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Map of the United States representing where CRNAs can practice independently

It's important to note that these regulations are subject to change as laws evolve, so always check the current guidelines if you're interested in practicing independently.

Why CRNAs Choose Independent Practice

Working independently as a CRNA can offer unique benefits. Although practicing alone can pose challenges, many experienced CRNAs appreciate the opportunity to expand their skills, work autonomously, and enjoy a more flexible schedule. Tenured CRNAs often thrive in this setting, utilizing various case types to enhance their skill sets. New graduates, on the other hand, may prefer supervision as they build their experience.

Here's a perspective from a Medicus locum tenens CRNA who practices independently:

"Working in an independent practice as a CRNA allows me to practice to the full extent of my training, which in turn helps me become a well-rounded provider. I enjoy doing regional anesthesia, including spinal, epidurals, and peripheral nerve blocks. They offer quick pain relief, better pain control, and also decrease opioid use. There is an immense feeling of satisfaction when you are the one performing the pre-op evaluation, deciding and carrying out the anesthetic plan, and continuing to manage the postoperative phase." - Kelsey, CRNA.

Interested in Working as a Locum Tenens CRNA with Medicus?

Not all states allow CRNAs to practice independently, but choosing a career as a locum tenens CRNA provides flexibility and choice in where, when, and how you work. At Medicus, we listen to your preferences and ensure you have assignment opportunities that align with your desired practice style. A locum tenens CRNA career offers a unique work-life balance, flexibility, and the chance to travel while ensuring patients always have access to anesthesia services.

View our open locum CRNA jobs here.