Community Hospitals & ICU Experience

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    Hello, I am a prospective CRNA student and I am currently considering where I must acquire my critical care experience. Can anyone tell me if an ICU of a community hospital (approximately 120 beds total) may provide adequate experience? While this is important, my bigger question is this: would a community hospital on my prospective SRNA resume make me a competitive candidate as I look for CRNA schools? Thank you in advance for your advice.
  2. 8 Comments so far...

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    I would suggest you look at the prerequisites for the program(s) you are interested in applying to in order to determine what they prefer in terms of ICU experience. I can say that majority of programs do prefer "high-acuity" ICU experience, which is generally not a characteristic of the community hospital ICU envirnoment and often includes working at a teaching facility and level-one trauma center. I started in the community hospital environment as a new grad. We had a 12-bed ICU in which I spent two years honing my ICU nursing skills. After two years I moved across country and accepted a job at a level-one trauma center teaching hospital that was over 600 beds, and I have worked at teaching facilities ever since. It is an EXCELLENT place to start. Many people have told me how the applicant pools for CRNA school have become increasingly competitive over the years. Take your time, get a good solid background, and work your way up. You will need a strong ICU skill set for your CRNA practice, and unfortunately it takes time to build confidence! You've got a great start, keep working hard and you'll be there before you know it.

    After over 5 years as an RN I've decided to apply to school this year. CRNA school has always been an aspiration of mine and I finaly have the skill set I'd hope to posess for when I start this journey through school.

    Good luck to you!
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    above poster said some wonderful things. If you have a typical community hosp then you very well may not get the experience you need. Multiple titrating drips, crashing pts, big surgeries, etc. Often you will not really see any advanced hemodynamic monitoring in that setting either. As a way in the door in a year to move on to another hosp? great plan!
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    It depends on what the "community" hospital does. I work in a rather high acuity 14 bed community ICU that does heart surgery, neuro surgery, and takes MICU/ SICU pts all in one unit. It can be a rather challenging place to work because you have to do it all. In addition, I work nights and there is little support- no residents, fellows, etc. There is a critical care PA until 1 am on weekdays but no one from cardiac surgery in house after day shift so there is a lot of responsibility. I feel that there is a lot of independent decision making where I work with liberal order sets and no docs to bounce things off at night. Find out how many beds and what type of services are provided by this hospital. Ask what the typical patients are like and what types of gtts are common.
    Ps I've worked there for nearly 3 yrs and started off as a new grad. I just applied to 2 CRNA schools- Northeastern and UNE and got in to both.
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    Thank you everyone for your advice! I received some additional information today: vents are common at this particular community hospital, but hemodynamic monitoring is close to none. Certainly this experience alone will not prepare me for CRNA school. What about one year of this community hospital ICU? Would this adequately prepare me to switch hospitals into a higher acuity ICU? Or would a year of med/surg experience make me a better candidate before switching to a high-acuity ICU? All of your advice so far is wonderful and much appreciated.
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    Do this icu and transfer. Good luck?
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    I agree. Work in this ICU and then transfer. This experience will make you a better candidate for a higher acuity ICU than will med-surg experience.
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    Community hospital ICU experience is totally fine. They look at the whole picture. If your stats are good your experience will not matter very much. People with poor stats need to get better experience in order to make themselves look more competetive. If you interview outside of your area they will not even know what kind of hospital you work at. Besides, if they have doubt that you have received adequate experience they can ask you clinical questions during the interview. As long as you know your stuff you will be fine.
    GaMommy81 likes this.
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    Figure out what they handle in the ICU. If they do cardio, neuro, medical/surgical all in the same unit, then that's better than most any other ICU you'll find. I know many people in CRNA school who came from such units.

    If, on the other hand, they handle really light cases like COPD exacerbation that needs Bi-PAP, but not APRV for ARDS, then it's likely they won't give you the experience you need.


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