My plan, and my journey to CRNA school. Insight, perspective, advice, preparation.

  1. Greetings everyone,

    Thank you all for such consistently informative posts. It is very fortunate that we have such a congregation of clinicians as resources in our professional endeavors. I would like to share with you, and divulge my journey to CRNA school.

    I would appreciate input, criticisms and advice from all sources; I would like to know if I am on the right track toward anesthesia school.

    Warning, this may be slightly long-winded.

    Early in my undergraduate education I became interested in health care, having MD's and a CRNA in the family I feel as though this was a welcomed and natural path for me to take toward my professional goals. I attended a medium-sized university in MI, and pursued a degree in the allied health professions while simultaneously completing my prerequisite coursework for nursing school, affording me the adaptability of applying to either PA school, or an Accelerated Nursing Program.

    In 2011 I graduated with a Bachelor of Integrative Studies, and made the decision to pursue nursing instead of PA school. I was accepted, and completed an Accelerated BSN program in 2012.

    I currently hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Bachelor of Integrative studies, and a Biology Minor.

    Throughout my undergraduate coursework I volunteered in the local community assisting with food drives, parades and a few community projects. I finished my first degree with a 3.5 GPA cumulative, then immediately started my ASDN-BSN where I was elected student representative for the student nurse association, and organized multiple fundraisers. I graduated with honors from my BSN program, and sealed a cumulative GPA of 3.8.

    While still in school I secured a preceptorship in an SICU at a large, level II trauma teaching facility in a major metropolitan city here in MI. To which I am eternally grateful. I spent three months precepting on this unit, and was offered a GN position upon graduation, which I accepted, very happily. I then passed the NCLEX and have been working as an RN on this unit for 8 months.

    My plan before nursing school was to pursue nursing with the intention of going to CRNA school. I became interested after I had the opportunity to shadow a CRNA while working as a patient sitter a three years ago. Since then I have shadowed two more times as an RN, including during a prolonged organ procurement. I am absolutely fascinated with anesthesia, and I do not think there is a day that goes by where I am not thinking about, or reading about anesthesia nursing.

    In my current SICU clinical setting we routinely care for a surgical patient population that includes neuro, septic shock, trauma, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, pulmonary, neurovascular and the occasional ortho patient. We use a lot of invasive hemodynamic monitoring including.. A-lines, CVP's, the occasional swan and resulting PCWP/PAP/Cardiac profile, we also routinely see and are responsible for the monitoring and management of extraventricular drains and ICP monitoring ranging from intraventricular catheters to fiber optic camino placements, ventilator management and associated ABG/etCO2 interpretation (obviously), massive transfusion, as well as a variety of critical care measurements that I am probably not remembering at this moment.

    We routinely have patients requiring drip titration, fluid resuscitation, vasopressors, and sedation along the lines of Epinephrine, neosynephrine, levophed, dopamine, vasopressin, fentanyl, versed, propofol, nitro, etc. (not in any particular order or combo).

    If you have read this far, I ask you, when was the point that you felt comfortable enough to apply to CRNA school? After 8 months in this SICU, I have been truly humbled. I cannot possibly imagine applying at this point, and am going to give it at least another year before consideration. Although I have experience with the above, I feel that to be a successful clinician and CRNA I need to be absolutely seamless with my drip titration, and more experienced with my pathophysiology. I read about ICU RN's wanting to apply after a year, and I used to have that mentality, but I do not any longer.

    My plan for right now is to gain more experience and obtain a more advanced knowledge base, and work on admissions requirements for the time being. As of now I am 23, and would like to set a goal of starting anesthesia school by 25 (not set in stone).

    I am open to any and all suggestions regarding my path to CRNA school, where to go from here, and I look forward to your replies.

    This is my path to CRNA school.

    SI guy.
  2. Visit SIguy_RN profile page

    About SIguy_RN

    Joined: Jan '11; Posts: 25; Likes: 8


  3. by   SIguy_RN
    Anyone have some advice for an aspiring srna?
  4. by   gwapo
    Quote from SIguy_RN
    Anyone have some advice for an aspiring srna?
    I commend you for your attitude. The more experience you have, the better clinician you will be, and that's pretty obvious. Well my deciding factor was my skill level. I thought, i have taken care of thw sickest patients in the hospital, been doing charge about 2 years and felt confident at what i did. I asked myself how can i improve myself? I thought about moving to a different kind of ICU but it will most likely teach me just technical skills as i already had the critical thinking under my belt. So instead, i applied to crna school with alnost 7 yrs of ICU experience. This was my way of improving myself. Now i am not telling you to wait that long, what i'm trying to suggest is when you feel comfortable of your skills, and you feel like you can handle anything thrown at you in ICU, and people in your unit always goes to you for advice, it maybe the right time. Good luck.
  5. by   missnurse01
    Gwapo nailed it. You have to feel like the expert in your unit. Studying pathophys and pharm is great ! Take either or both at the grad level. If u haven't taken ochem or physics do that. Get your ccrn or other certification. Be on committees at work. They want a competant , knowledgeable , leader for the crna profession. Congrats to you for recognizing that one year minimum is prob not enough. Any practicing crnas feel that the minimum should be raised.

    Good luck !
  6. by   SIguy_RN
    So what I'm hearing is that the readiness to apply to crna school is more about individual comfort level, rather than a set 'amount' of icu experience.In the mean time wha you guys think I could do to prepare?. For example, when you started anesthesia school did you ever have a moment of..."crap, I would be so much more prepared if I would have done ____________". ?
  7. by   missnurse01
    I am not in yet but when I interviewed I asked what students struggle with the most and they said physiology. They said at the least to go reread your phys book. That's why I was thinking if taking a grad level phys class. I already did a year of gen chem ochem and physics.

    Good luck
  8. by   SIguy_RN
    You did a year gen chem, organic chem and physics? that sounds like an entire year of extra schooling full time, assuming 12 credits/semester x 2 semesters. Do most crna schools require this?? because the most I've seen seems to be a graduate physics course. Jw
  9. by   missnurse01
    I did the year of gen chem bc it was required for ochem. I did one out of three of the ochems then one calculus based physics. Some schools liked to see physics so I went ahead and did it. I had a long plan for myself to get into school while gaining more icu experience. I want to succeed in school not struggle. My coworker who is in a program now wishes he had done gen chem ochem and physics. I also wanted to be the best candidate I could be and get in at my top school first try. This was the path I chose.

    I am still planning on vcu's distance classes of medicinal chem and mammalian phys. Then if I have time maybe grad level phys.
  10. by   SIguy_RN
    Wow that is a lot of extra academics, did you end up getting in?
  11. by   missnurse01
    Hey what else r u gonna do with your time while getting experience !? Lol it was all doable in a few years.
    Hope to hear this week !
  12. by   EtherFever
    Hey SIguy,

    It's great to see potential applicants who do heed alot of advice on the board about really gaining the experience and having great reasons to want to be a CRNA. All too often, I hear newer co-workers and posters on here, about "the bare minimum" required to get into school. I even asked one of these people, "Why CRNA?", and got a deer in headlights look with a "I just like it" response.... sounds like you've done your hw and shadowed and are truly interested.

    I will be starting my program in a few weeks. I did want to tell you, that I initially had planned on applying for the previous year. I had taken my GRE, gotten my CCRN, had 2.5 years of exp in the CT-ICU, 3.5 years nursing overall. But, I decided to wait another year to truly become an "expert" in my field. And I will tell you, waiting that extra year has made a HUGE difference in my knowledge, confidence, autonomy etc. So again, I commend you on wanting to do it the right way.

    Sounds like you have a good game plan. My advice is to start working on your CCRN & GRE. On your unit, try to take any advanced unit classes to get trained on devices i.e. IABP, ECMO, or whatever is available where you are at. You want to be able to handle the sickest of the sick on your unit. You should be comfortable identifying issues and presenting solutions, as well as being assertive with your decision making. Get involved in precepting. See it, do it, teach it. You will learn more about yourself and gain a whole new wealth of knowledge by precepting. Get involved with your unit committees and become a leader on the floor.

    Other things you can do to help you stand out: Take graduate level classes i.e. adv A/P, pharm, chem, physics. This will not only boost your gpa but will also show schools that you can handle the graduate level workload. Also, most hospitals will cover some school tuition/expenses.

    Make sure you are financially ready. Remember, most schools will ask you for a $500-1000 deposit at the drop of a hat. Some schools may require you to front the cost of tuition for the first semester, depending on how the fed assistance gets reimbursed. And some schools expect you to live off a crazy meager budget while in school. My advice, pay off everything you can now. If it means not buying a new car, then don't. Live frugally now, and save your pennies.

    You will know when you are ready to apply. I knew, when I started wondering why people always came up to me for advice, and opinion, or help. When people casually refer to you as a unit resource, when providers are comfortable with bouncing ideas off you or accepting suggestions and advice, and when you are financially and emotionally prepared, you'll be ready

    Hope that helps and good luck!
  13. by   chudder
    Have you considered USAGPAN? Now is the perfect time to prepare for a 2014 start...
  14. by   SIguy_RN
    That sounds like a good plan. I can envision the 'feeling comfortable' aspect, and I imagine I will need a few more years to be at that point. Right now, I feel comfortable-so to speak- on my unit, and I think this stems from my being willing to accept any patient/opportunity, but I also recognize my position on the totem pole of knowledge regarding critical care.

    I am going to find out what graduate classes my schools of choice require and/or like to see on the resume' of an applicant. I am planning on applying to Oakland University, Rochester Hills MI or Univ. of Detroit Mercy, also MI. These schools are my top two picks, and seem to be natural selections since I reside in southeast MI. There are a few other schools in my area who offer CRNA programs that I may decide to apply to as well, but as of now U of D and OU are at the top.

    Yes, I can understand the financial stability aspect. Luckily, I have a significant other who will be footing the bill while I am in school and we have already started the process of saving and designing our lives around my return to school. Our house is in a equidistant and favorable location for commuting (planned intentionally), and we have been squirreling away funds to help alleviate financial expenses when I go back. I had to buy a new car this year, but bought a pre-owned vehicle so I would be able to pay it off in a few years before I return, yet have reliable transportation to work/school/clinical (also planned intentionally).