Any civilians entering the Air Force for the first time as a new grad CRNA?

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    Hi. I am currenly in CRNA school with hopes of joining the Air Force after graduation. I have no military background but it has always been a dream of mine to enter the AF as a medical professional.

    A lot of posts seem to be geared towards those who want to enroll in a military CRNA program. I merely want to hear from some AD AF CRNAs who either share my background or can provide some information on the transition. The main questions I have are:

    1. I'm not concerned about the pay. Obviously it's going to be lower than what you make in the civilian sector. That's not why I am choosing this route. However, I do not want to let my student loan debt linger for a significant length of time. So would it be recommened to apply for the HPSP or to enlist after graduation?

    2. When it comes to CRNA school rankings, I know that the military CRNA schools are at the top of the list. Since I do not go to one of these schools and I will be joining the AF as a new grad, will that reflect the type of cases I start out having? For instance, will I have to start out at ambulatory care centers or outpatient surgery centers before I go to high acuity trauma hospitals? Also, what restrictions do AF CRNAs have when practicing (ex. central line insertion, blocks, trachs, etc.)?

    3. I know COT training is somewhere between 4-5 weeks. About how much time after that will I begin to start practicing?

    4. How is the deployment experience as an AD AF CRNA? I've read a lot of posts about the potential length of time but I am not concerned with that. Just curious about your personal experience. Where did you go? What patients did you care for? Did your family ever go with to any of the countries?

    5. Lastly, after talking with some of the recruiters here in town it sort of seems like the demand for AD AF CRNAs is low. Is this true? If so is there another branch with a higher demand?

    Thank you to whoever responds. I am very ignorant on this topic and would appreciate any info provided. If anyone also knows of how I might be able to shadow an AF CRNA that would be awesome too.

    Thank you for your service and I hope to join you in the future!!
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  5. 0
    Quote from wanna_b_AF_CRNA
    Hi. I am currenly in CRNA school with hopes of joining the Air Force after graduation. I have no military background but it has always been a dream of mine to enter the AF as a medical professional.

    A lot of posts seem to be geared towards those who want to enroll in a military CRNA program. I merely want to hear from some AD AF CRNAs who either share my background or can provide some information on the transition. The main questions I have are:

    1. I'm not concerned about the pay. Obviously it's going to be lower than what you make in the civilian sector. That's not why I am choosing this route. However, I do not want to let my student loan debt linger for a significant length of time. So would it be recommened to apply for the HPSP or to enlist after graduation?

    2. When it comes to CRNA school rankings, I know that the military CRNA schools are at the top of the list. Since I do not go to one of these schools and I will be joining the AF as a new grad, will that reflect the type of cases I start out having? For instance, will I have to start out at ambulatory care centers or outpatient surgery centers before I go to high acuity trauma hospitals? Also, what restrictions do AF CRNAs have when practicing (ex. central line insertion, blocks, trachs, etc.)?

    3. I know COT training is somewhere between 4-5 weeks. About how much time after that will I begin to start practicing?

    4. How is the deployment experience as an AD AF CRNA? I've read a lot of posts about the potential length of time but I am not concerned with that. Just curious about your personal experience. Where did you go? What patients did you care for? Did your family ever go with to any of the countries?

    5. Lastly, after talking with some of the recruiters here in town it sort of seems like the demand for AD AF CRNAs is low. Is this true? If so is there another branch with a higher demand?

    Thank you to whoever responds. I am very ignorant on this topic and would appreciate any info provided. If anyone also knows of how I might be able to shadow an AF CRNA that would be awesome too.

    Thank you for your service and I hope to join you in the future!!
    1. I would talk to a healthcare recruiter and try to figure out what the AF is currently offering. You should be eligible for student loan repayment and/or the yearly bonus of up to 45K a yr as a CRNA.
    2. Whatever hospital you get assigned to you will be doing whatever cases that hospital does unless your credentialing states you cannot do those cases d/t lack of training (which is highly unlikely). The only other problem will be if you are stationed with MDA residents, because they will more than likely be doing all the bigger cases.
    3. After COT you will have to in process at your base, it usually takes about 2wks to in process including your household goods days, then you will start practicing as soon as your credentialing is done. It is usually takes about a month after getting to your duty station to have credentialing done, if you can get your credentialing started before getting to your new duty station it maybe even a shorter amount of time.
    4. You can plan to deploy every 18mo for at least 6 mo at a time. No anesthesia provider MDA or CRNA has missed deployment yet at my base. You do not take family on deployments. Deployments range from Afghanistan to the Philippines and everything in between. The type of patients can be all active duty (AD) to AD and civilian or on a humanitarian mission to all civilian patients.
    5. The Army in general always seems to have the lowest percentage of AD CRNAs. I would say the recruiters are probably just seeing you as a nurse, and not really looking at the numbers for CRNAs. The best time to apply for CRNA spot is probably in the summer. Generally, the summer is when we are at lowest for CRNAs in the military.
    You should be able to shadow a CRNA when you do your Chief Nurse interview.
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    Thank you very much for that information. I have a ways to go towards finishing school but that information really helps.
  7. 0
    Thank you for the insight! I am hoping to serve as a CRNA in the next few years.
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    wanted also to say thanks for all the info and I am another that would love to serve if I am able after becoming a CRNA.

    thanks!
  9. 1
    Hello,

    I am a Major in the Air Force active duty and I work in critical care. Been in for 12 years and was currently accepted into a civilian CRNA program. I'll be leaving leaving active duty next year to transition to the reserves while in anesthesia school. Currently, the Air Force is over 100% manned in the CRNA career field. I talked with my assignments folks, who do the assignments for CRNAs, ICU, and OR nurses about coming back to active duty when I finish CRNA school but they told me since they are well over 100% manned, it would not be possible for me to return to active duty if this trends continues in 2016 when I graduate CRNA school.

    As far as deployments, I've been in 12 years and I'm currently on my first deployment to Afganistan on a Forward Operating Base. Some people may deploy every 18 months but I have been lucky because many people will volunteer to take your deployment if you don't want to go. Military schools are ranked high according to the US News and World Report but you should take that with a grain of salt because not all schools participates in the surveys. The Army program, which is ranked #1 with VCU has a very high attrition rate. So even though you can get in, most importantly will you be able to graduate. One of the Colonels there in charge of the program shared with me the COA told them even though they are ranked high, they could be placed on probation because their attrition rate was higher than the national average for CRNA programs.

    Practice for CRNAs are very good in the AF. I also moonlight on the side as an OR nurse. Been in the OR for 9 years now. The AF recently passed an agreement that all CRNAs can practice independently without physician supervision. Many anesthesiologist don't like that idea though. When I was stationed at Landstuhl with the Army, many of the CRNA in the OR I worked with were separating from the Army after their 5 year payback for school because they felt like the Army didn't take care of their CRNAs. The bonus the CRNA's receive in the AF along with their salaray puts them neck and neck with the civilian CRNA pay, especially since some of our benefits are tax free.

    Good luck to you in your endeavors. I am truly looking forward to being a reservist in the civilian sector and having control of my own life and schedule. Active duty does has it perks but you do give up so much of yourself in return. When I separate next year, I will have 13 years in and now I am ready for a change.
    Nurse Alyssa likes this.
  10. 0
    Quote from SRNA4U
    Hello,

    I am a Major in the Air Force active duty and I work in critical care. Been in for 12 years and was currently accepted into a civilian CRNA program. I'll be leaving leaving active duty next year to transition to the reserves while in anesthesia school. Currently, the Air Force is over 100% manned in the CRNA career field. I talked with my assignments folks, who do the assignments for CRNAs, ICU, and OR nurses about coming back to active duty when I finish CRNA school but they told me since they are well over 100% manned, it would not be possible for me to return to active duty if this trends continues in 2016 when I graduate CRNA school.

    As far as deployments, I've been in 12 years and I'm currently on my first deployment to Afganistan on a Forward Operating Base. Some people may deploy every 18 months but I have been lucky because many people will volunteer to take your deployment if you don't want to go. Military schools are ranked high according to the US News and World Report but you should take that with a grain of salt because not all schools participates in the surveys. The Army program, which is ranked #1 with VCU has a very high attrition rate. So even though you can get in, most importantly will you be able to graduate. One of the Colonels there in charge of the program shared with me the COA told them even though they are ranked high, they could be placed on probation because their attrition rate was higher than the national average for CRNA programs.

    Practice for CRNAs are very good in the AF. I also moonlight on the side as an OR nurse. Been in the OR for 9 years now. The AF recently passed an agreement that all CRNAs can practice independently without physician supervision. Many anesthesiologist don't like that idea though. When I was stationed at Landstuhl with the Army, many of the CRNA in the OR I worked with were separating from the Army after their 5 year payback for school because they felt like the Army didn't take care of their CRNAs. The bonus the CRNA's receive in the AF along with their salaray puts them neck and neck with the civilian CRNA pay, especially since some of our benefits are tax free.

    Good luck to you in your endeavors. I am truly looking forward to being a reservist in the civilian sector and having control of my own life and schedule. Active duty does has it perks but you do give up so much of yourself in return. When I separate next year, I will have 13 years in and now I am ready for a change.
    In general we stay about in the low 80% as far as manning goes. It will generally dip at the end of summer and be the highest around January. This correlates to when school commitments end and when new CRNA from the military schools graduate. Manning numbers are very fickle and rarely represent the true picture with USAF CRNAs, and since there is less than 200 of us it doesn't take many to skew the numbers one way or the other.

    The highest attrition rate in the Army program is from the direct entry candidates. My understanding is that it can be as high as 50% in that group.

    Only one CRNA out of approximately 9 in three years has missed a deployment since I have been at my base. USAF CRNAs are the highest deployed nurses in the USAF.

    All military CRNAs practice independently. We got rid of the consult clause for ASA 3+ in the CRNA scope of practice, but we are the first service to do that so far.

    As a senior Major that is CRNA in the USAF you would more than likely be put in supervisory position within the first year out of school. Once you make LTC supervisory position would be mandatory.
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    1. In general we stay about in the low 80% as far as manning goes. It will generally dip at the end of summer and be the highest around January. This correlates to when school commitments end and when new CRNA from the military schools graduate. Manning numbers are very fickle and rarely represent the true picture with USAF CRNAs, and since there is less than 200 of us it doesn't take many to skew the numbers one way or the other.

    2. The highest attrition rate in the Army program is from the direct entry candidates. My understanding is that it can be as high as 50% in that group.

    3. Only one CRNA out of approximately 9 in three years has missed a deployment since I have been at my base. USAF CRNAs are the highest deployed nurses in the USAF.

    4. All military CRNAs practice independently. We got rid of the consult clause for ASA 3+ in the CRNA scope of practice, but we are the first service to do that so far.


    5. As a senior Major that is CRNA in the USAF you would more than likely be put in supervisory position within the first year out of school. Once you make LTC supervisory position would be mandatory.

    My response:

    1. 100% manned is what came directly from the mouth of the Assignment Officer. Unless you work in the assignment section of AFPC, I would rather take what they say as golden versus the opinion of someone who works in a clinical position nor who has the ability to decide what numbesr will be accessioned into the AF. Also, a lot of CRNAs are deciding to stay in the AF because of the economy as well as the increased supply of CRNAs that are flooding the market in some states. Experienced CRNAs are seeing the pay substantially reduced due to the increased supply of new CRNAs, who can be paid at a much lower rate based on the shear numers. I remember hearing around the earlier part of the year that many experienced CRNAs from Florida were moving to Texas and areas north of that state due to the better pay. Florida and Pennsylvania are one of a few states that have a great number of anesthesia programs. Texas Wesleyan accepts over 150 students/year in their program. Also, with the incentive special pay given to AF CRNA's the overall pay is pretty comparable to the civilian CRNAs.

    2. The acceptable attrition rate for CRNA programs is <20% whereas the Army's proram was well over 20%.

    3. In addition to CRNAs, critical care nurses are equally the highest deployed nurses in the USAF.

    5. Most Majors that are CRNAs in the Air Force are NOT routinely placed in supervisory positions. There are not a lot of supervisory positions in the anesthesia department since most "official" supervisory positions are either filled by a CRNA or MDA. As an officer, in general yes, you will supervise people junior to your rank, but as far as suerpvisory positions (element chief, chief of anesthesia, and deputy positions), there are few and far between. Most Majors in the AF, CRNA included, do their primary job of providing anesthesia, especially if you work in a major medical center. The positions of Chief Nurse Anesthetist and Deputy Chief are usually filled by Lt Cols, unless there are a shortage, which there is not in the AF.

    When I was stationed as an OR nurse at Landstuhl, there was a separate Chief Nurse Anesthetist position filled by a Lt Col and the Chief of Anesthesia was a Major. We also had full bird Colonels, who were CRNAs, who also worked in the OR doing their own cases. When I was at Wilford Hall, we had a Lt Col that was the Chief CRNA. At Andrews, we had Lt Cols that were Chief CRNA and Chief of Anesthesia.

    Most Majors are normally working the rooms. Some are picked up for teaching positions at USUHS or CSTARS. Since the AF is manned very well, you will continue to see Maj and Lt Col in clinical positions versus administrative positions based on the shear number of people trying to get command and other leadership positions. From many of the CRNAs I have worked with as an OR nurse, many would prefer to work the rooms instead of being in an administrative position.

    Thank goodness for the creation of the Master Clinician, which has helped many Lt Cols to make the rank of Colonel. As you know, prior to this, the AF did not have any full bird Colonel CRNAs before they came out with the Master Clinician concept, unless that Lt Col CRNA was a Squadron Commander or Group Commander. I will be meeting the board for Lt Col in 2014.


    Time is going by so fast.
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    Last edit by wtbcrna on Dec 6, '12 : Reason: Deleted post
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    Also, approximately 75% of the AF CRNAs get out after their initial commitment. That is a big reason why a lot of the Majors are going to have to fill as element chief and most Ltc are going to be flight CC at the small to medium size AF hospitals. Which is the majority of AF hospitals.


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