CRNA student having doubts

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    I'm 3 months into my CRNA program and have just started my clinical rotations. I'm starting to have doubts as to whether this is the right career path for me. I worked in the ICU for 4 years and the ER for 1 year. I ended up loving the ER. I loved the pace, the minimal charting, the personalities of the nurses, and the shift flexibility. There was something extremely satisfying about having a patient come in feeling awful and then leaving a couple hours later feeling great. I rarely saw that in the ICU...it was slower progress if any.

    The main reason I am apprehensive about being a CRNA is because I don't think I'll enjoy working in the OR. I feel trapped behind the curtain and feel like the work, although extremely technical, can become monotonous. I enjoy moving, being able to interact with people, and experiencing their appreciation. The pre-op visit doesn't give me enough of that.

    The coursework is extremely demanding and I'm really at the point where I need to decide whether to continue CRNA school or consider a different program. I'm hesitant to drop out because I realize anesthesia offers so much and I may not have this opportunity again if I quit.

    Are there any CRNAs who had some of the same doubts as me early on?
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  3. 11 Comments so far...

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    Joebinks please do not drop out!! That could have been a spot for someone else. I believe you will enjoy it! It's just something so new to you.
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    Do not drop out!!! Being a CRNA does not always mean the OR! My sister in law just finished her CRNA and is working in an outpatient setting and loves it! She was an ER herself!
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    Quote from Joebinks
    I'm 3 months into my CRNA program and have just started my clinical rotations. I'm starting to have doubts as to whether this is the right career path for me. I worked in the ICU for 4 years and the ER for 1 year. I ended up loving the ER. I loved the pace, the minimal charting, the personalities of the nurses, and the shift flexibility. There was something extremely satisfying about having a patient come in feeling awful and then leaving a couple hours later feeling great. I rarely saw that in the ICU...it was slower progress if any.

    The main reason I am apprehensive about being a CRNA is because I don't think I'll enjoy working in the OR. I feel trapped behind the curtain and feel like the work, although extremely technical, can become monotonous. I enjoy moving, being able to interact with people, and experiencing their appreciation. The pre-op visit doesn't give me enough of that.

    The coursework is extremely demanding and I'm really at the point where I need to decide whether to continue CRNA school or consider a different program. I'm hesitant to drop out because I realize anesthesia offers so much and I may not have this opportunity again if I quit.

    Are there any CRNAs who had some of the same doubts as me early on?
    Do some soul searching before making a decision but if its not for you then it's better to find out sooner than latter. If it truly is not for you then I wouldn't waste a lot of time and money on something I will hate. Maybe you would feel better served as a acute care NP and work in an ER.
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    Quote from Tarshapitt
    Joebinks please do not drop out!! That could have been a spot for someone else. I believe you will enjoy it! It's just something so new to you.
    Being someone else's slot would be a terrible reason to do something you do not enjoy. If that other person didn't make it in, then it's not the OPs fault.
    Designer NP and Mully like this.
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    Thanks for the responses. Wildcatarnp...what do you mean by your sister working in an outpatient setting? Is it an outpatient surgery center?

    I have considered the other possible settings to work in as a CRNA, but it seems that the majority of hospitals staff their CRNAs in the OR. I think surgery is fascinating but haven't been able to develop much of a fascination for anesthesia. Is this a bad sign?

    As far as being an ACNP in the ER...it always seemed like the NPs worked in the fast track and never really got anything too exciting. It was the docs who saw the more complicated or emergent patients. I'd honestly rather work as an RN in the ER instead of an ACNP.
    Last edit by Joebinks on Nov 11, '13 : Reason: additional info
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    Did you shadow any CRNAs before applying to school? I just wonder if it is the stress of school that is affecting you and leaving you subconsciously looking for an out. If you did shadow, what did you experience during that time that confirmed for you that anesthesia is what you want to do? Did you find at least find some appeal to it while observing, or were you maybe overlooking the actual job itself and focused on the benefits?
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    I shadowed one CRNA before school but it was about 3 years before I started. Well, I made it to the second semester of school but am still not enjoying it. Yes, it is VERY stressful and difficult. Your heart really needs to be into it to be able to get up at 4:30 in the morning for clinical. I think we had about 22 exams first semester. The content is interesting, but I just don't enjoy the environment. I loved working in the ER as a nurse and am just not getting that same joy. I enjoy the movement, the drama, and interacting with many patients on a daily basis. The patient interaction in anesthesia is extremely short, it is a controlled environment 99% of the time, and you spend most of the day reacting to monitors and charting. I want to be at least half-way excited to go to work every morning. Sure, the money is good, but I don't think that will keep me going. I'm thinking about switching to a nurse practitioner program and hopefully working in an ER somewhere-that's where my passion is. Of course, I don't want to make any hasty decisions yet. Any advice?
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    When you really start to practice anesthesia on your own (not as a student), I think you will find an increase in satisfaction. When you truly start to understand the art of anesthesia, you won't necessarily be reacting to the monitors, you will start to react before the monitors start to show significant signs. Everything starts commingled together.

    There will come a time when you own your own decisions (hoping you get preceptors that allow you to do so), for good or bad. It is still early, give it some more time. This not a hasty decision to make. Most people don't get a second chance.
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    If I were you, I'd finish CRNA school and give it two years of working as an honest, whole-hearted try. The good thing about life is that nothing is forever, and you can always change your mind later! This way, you'd really actually know if it was anesthesia you didn't like, or it was being a student in an uncertain roll that you are not an expert in. Who's to say you couldn't go back and get your NP afterwards? It wouldn't be the first time someone has done that. Plus you'd be the best at intubating in the ER!

    I think people often introspect as to whether they're "happy" in their career far too early. There are people that have left my ICU weeks after they get off orientation! Of course you're not going to be happy yet! You don't know anyone, you don't hardly know anything about the unit, and the whole job is new to you. I think a better way at coming at it is saying that you're committing to this for the next couple of years and you're going to forego the hope of being completely fulfilled and fluffy in your career for that time. Choose it as a commitment and do it! Then in a few years, after you've made some money and paid off the venture, and you're in a better position to self-assess, decide from there.


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