Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist




About The Program

This site has been designed for access by applicants, enrolled students, college-based faculty, clinical site personnel and a variety of other partners of the program. As such, information in individual sections will be available to each group depending on need and confidentiality requirements. We hope you find our website helpful, informative, comprehensive and easy to navigate.
You should also visit the Health Sciences Simulation Center (HSSC) section of Samuel Merritt University's website. The history of simulation-based learning at SMU began with the pioneering work of the nurse anesthesia faculty in the late 1990s. Over the past decade, our students have contributed a great deal to the national reputation of innovation and excellence that our simulation center - and especially our Program of Nurse Anesthesia - has garnered and sustained. You will discover a wealth of specific information about our Program on the HSSC website page to supplement what you learn here.

Our Philosophy of Learning and Success

It is the intent of our entry-level program to prepare graduates for the full scope of practice in nurse anesthesia in order to be competitive in the marketplace by delivering the highest possible quality of care. Consequently, students will be involved in all aspects of anesthesia including general and regional techniques as well as cases involving conscious sedation and other ancillary services such as pain management, anesthesia for interventional radiology procedures and emergency airway management. Under close and immediate supervision, students will be responsible for the administration and management of virtually all specialty surgery categories and common invasive monitoring modalities for the full range of patient age and acuity levels.

At Samuel Merritt University, we manage the learning process as a shared enterprise between students and faculty; that is, we expect students to be highly motivated, responsible, self-disciplined, focused and well schooled in the philosophy of graduate education. Faculty will consistently and expertly provide required learning opportunities and the guidance and instruction to fulfill the learning objectives of not only the program but the student's personal interests and talents. Above all, we seek mature students who represent the highest caliber critical care nurse; ones who take full responsibility for delivering exceptional, intelligent and compassionate care.

How Our Graduates are Performing

Employers continue to rave about the preparation of our students. Most often they cite the comprehensiveness of their theoretical background and the range of their clinical expertise from the simplest to the most medically complex patient. 100% of employers noted that graduates were fully capable of independent decision-making and graduates rank their preparation far above minimum competency levels. Nearly 90% of our graduates are employed in the Bay Area and most at Kaiser Permanente facilities. We also have graduates practicing in other areas of the country and in the military. We are proud of our graduates! 96% from the Class of 2015, 100% from the Class of 2016 and Class of 2017 were employed as CRNAs within 6 months of passing the National Certification Exam (NCE). The first-time pass rate for the Class of 2017 was 88.4% (subsequent pass rate is 96.2%) compared to the national average of 82.6%.(FY 2017) The first-time pass rate for our last 5 cohorts (Classes of 2013-2017) was 92.6% (subsequent pass rate of 99.1%) compared to the national 5-year average of 85.6% (FY 2017, 5-year trend).

What is most important is that all of our graduates are employed as Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists. The graduates themselves all reported that they were well prepared to enter the employment field as CRNAs and felt fully competent to assume their professional role. 

Program 1st Year Student Retention Rates
Cohort Year Retention Rate
2016-2017 96%
2015-2016 96%
2014-2015 95%

The majority of students who left the program during the above referenced periods have done so due to a change in personal circumstances. The Program makes a concerted effort to work with students who may, at times, be struggling with the program curriculum or non-academic related challenges. 

Program of Nurse Anesthesia Alumni Association

Established in 1993, our Program of Nurse Anesthesia (PNA) continues to be recognized as one of the premier educational programs in the country, producing top notch Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists.  All PNA outcome measures of curricular quality and student satisfaction are consistently the highest across all programs at Samuel Merritt University.  The university's state-of-the-art Health Sciences Simulation Center was funded and built in 2006 largely predicated upon the successes experienced by the PNA in simulation-based education.  We are proud of our exemplary program and the roster of highly qualified, compassionate CRNAs who are alumni of Samuel Merritt University.

In response to substantial interest expressed by program alumni, we have established the Samuel Merritt University Program of Nurse Anesthesia Alumni Society.  Alumni associations provide wonderful opportunities to reconnect with old friends and colleagues; they also provide the structure and systems that promote professional networking; importantly they can create a culture of support and mentorship for members of the new generations of the nurse anesthesia profession.

Our Partnership with Kaiser Permanente Northern California

Our nurse anesthesia program was conceived as a joint venture between Samuel Merritt University and Kaiser Permanente Northern California in 1993 and a strong partnership between the two organizations flourishes to this day.  More than half of our clinical affiliate sites are Kaiser Permanente Medical Centers, making a significant number of our clinical faculty the CRNAs and anesthesiologists of The Permanente Medical Group.  Current students and graduates of the program consistently cite the outstanding experience and learning opportunities provided to them during the clinical component of the program as a major reason for their high degree of satisfaction with their education here at SMU.

If you would like to know more about Kaiser Permanente, you can visit their website or ask any of our faculty about this valued partnership.

Kaiser Permanente is awarding competitively $10,000 per year for 2 years ($20,000), forgivable after graduation if you are employed by a Northern California Kaiser facility.

Before You Go Exploring

Samuel Merritt University is a small private institution of higher education one hundred-years-old offering programs only in health-related disciplines…that is our exclusive mission. We value timely, attentive and informed services for both applicants and enrolled students.

We know that you will be impressed by our faculty, our educational resources and the quality of education received at Samuel Merritt University. After all, you are making a significant investment in your future and your choice of graduate program is critical. Now, take a look. We may be the perfect match!


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 at SMU plans to submit its application to the COA for approval to award the DNP degree in August 2018. Pending approval by the COA, the program plans to enroll its first doctoral cohort of students in January 2021. Further information regarding this transition may be obtained by contacting the Program Director, Joseph Janakes

222 S. Prospect Avenue
Park Ridge, IL 60068-1160





In less than two years, my family has a better life. It was a fast program and I spent many nights studying after the kids went to bed, but now I’ve got a lot to show for it: A new career Alejandra Villegas FNP
Our background in sports and passion for physical performance drove us to study the science of human movement. Tino and Tron Tino & Tron Hardy Physical Therapy
So many foot problems can be successfully treated if they are identified early, and corrective measures are taken. Then, there are patients with diabetes and other chronic diseases that require specialized, ongoing foot care. We see everything in our clinics. Samantha Ralstin Samantha Ralstin Podiatric Medicine

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