nurse anesthetist's education: quality education/ quality insight?

  1. Ive seen CRNA's work and would like to work on the OR team providing anesthesia. I was wondering if anyone who is now a CRNA or an MDA or anyone who is in either medical school or grad school for CRNA could answer this question:

    Is CRNA graduate school as demanding education-wise as medical school in alot of ways? I mean, did you have to take alot of the same classes that give you necessary medical base knowledge such as the big medical school entrance course, gross human anatomy with cadavre dissection?

    I want to know because I've taken Basic Chem 1&2, Basic Bio 1&2, and am now taking A&P for nursing school right now. I like learning but am dissappointed by how lacking in detail and vague(purely theoretical and without clear explanation) alot of the learning is. For instance, I'm sure medical students learn alot more and gain alot more insight when they actually dissect human cadavres together while we only can gain a semi-theoritical model, looking at diagrams, and dissecting cat and sheep livers. I'm also very dissapointed about how almost all my other co-pre-nursing students students say this material is stupid and that they will forget it as soon as the test is over and never use it!!!! They;re like, "doctors are the ones who will have to know this stuff in-depth" I'm like, Hey! I want to be able to use and depend on what I'm learning now!

    When you get to graduate school, does all of that change to more in-depth, hands-in learning? Do alot of CRNA programs have gross anatomy dissection? Should I fear that, by not going to medical school, I will be missing out of alot of training needed for me to be able to collaborate with anesthesiologists and surgeons without them having to change wavelengths for me?
    Last edit by susanna on May 1, '04
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  2. 20 Comments

  3. by   athomas91
    actually - alot of medical schools no longer do cadavers....there is a complete lack of people donating their remains...

    before going into answering your many questions - you may want to perhaps do a little research into what classes/experience is needed in order to even be accepted to a CRNA program - then look at some of the classes we take...many schools have their CRNA students in class w/ medical students. however - the over all question is what do you want to be - a nurse or a doctor....
  4. by   Tenesma
    athomas: "a lot of medical schools don't have cadaver courses"???

    where did you hear this?
  5. by   NCgirl
    Hate to inform you Tenesma, but I know of at two schools with anatomy classes (YES--for MED students) with cadaver dissections in great danger of being removed. Instead of a few students per group, they're already up to 12-15 students per cadaver. No big surprise, after the big fiasco with the public finding out about the blowing up of bodies donated for "science".

    Now, to answer Susanna. I've never been to medical school, so I can't compare it to anesthesia school. (Same thing goes for MDA's--they may try to compare our trainings, but please remember they haven't been through my program.) Anesthesia school is TOTALLY not like undergrad. You do not learn things for a test, you learn them so you won't kill someone. You learn the why, and it's not just because your professor said so. You learn 'why', because you cannot adequately and safely practice anesthesia if you don't know why you are doing something. Things are taught extremely in depth, much more so than you ever really wanted to know. Also unlike undergrad nursing, when you graduate, you're ready to practice. I certainly can't say that about when I finished my BSN.
    I believe you'd be pleasantly surprised at the breadth of anesthesia school. I suggest you call a few of your top choices and ask for a copy of their program's classes with desciptions, per semester. That greatly helped me choose between schools. Good luck to you!
    Last edit by NCgirl on May 2, '04
  6. by   athomas91
    athomas: "a lot of medical schools don't have cadaver courses"???
    Tenesma - many friends of mine either didn't have a cadaver - or the whole class shared one...i was told by one of the MDA's that there is a shortage because medical schools were no longer allowed to use homeless deceased w/o familial consent (which usually cannot be obtained) - so - they are left waiting for us to donate......

    i imagine the info could be wrong - but the source was rather reliable and recent.
  7. by   Sherpa RN
    Susanna and all,

    I concur with all the above comments by atthomas and NCgirl. Less people are donating bodies to science and the costs for cadavers is reflective of this.

    If you are interested more on the topic of cadavers and the research done with them, a great current book on the subject by Mary Roach Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers presents some of the interesting things done with cadavers to further human science. You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Borders. It addresses the current problem with the shortage of cadavers also. Here's the info from the inside flap:

    For 2000 yrs, cadavers-some willingly, some unwittingly- have been involved in science's boldest strides and wierdest undertakings. They helped test France's first guillotines, answering the question, "Is the severed head aware of its circumstances, however momentarily?" They helped evaluate the army's new rifles in 1904, standing as targets before researchers' guns. They've ridden the NASA Space shuttle, been crucified in a Parisian laboratory to test the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, and helped solve the mystery of TWA Flight 800. Fro every new surgical procedure, from heart transplants to gender reassignment surgery, cadavers have been there, alongside surgeons, making history in their quiet, sundered way.
    In this facinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries- from the anatomy labs and human-sourced pharmacies of medieval and 19th-century Europe to a human-decay research facility at the U. of Tenn. (a.k.a. the "Body Farm"), a plastic surgery practice lab, and a Scandinavian funeral directors' conference on the utopian future of human composting. In her droll, intimitable voice, Roach tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.
    "Mary Roach is the funniest science writer in the country. If that sounds like faint praise- or even an oxymoron- there's proof to the contrary on almost any page of this book. Stiff tells us where the bodies are, what they're up to, and the astonishing tales they still have to tell. Best of all it manages, somehow, to find humor in cadavers without robbing them of their dignity. Long live the dead." -Burkhard Bilger
    Makes a great summer read and will get you interesting stares on the train or on the beach!
  8. by   Tenesma
    i wasn't disputing the fact that there is a decrease in cadaveric exposure in med school - but it was news to me that "most" schools don't do it anymore...

    just curious...
  9. by   zambezi
    Some undergrad anatomy classes do use cadavers, despite the lack of bodies being donated for science. In my undergrad anatomy (at a small state school), we used cadavers for learning and testing. It was very interesting...typically we had approximately 6 students to each cadaver. I learned more by taking an upper division class that prepared the bodies for the other students to view. I imagine it is not as indepth as the classes being taught for medical students, but I do think that it is a shame that because of lack of supply this valuable learning tool is being taken away...it was an excellent experience.
  10. by   CougRN
    in my undergrad education we had over 70 cadavers. the med students would disect them and we would study the different anatomical areas afterwards. so i can't speak for any other school but my own but i got a great education in my undergrad anatomy class working with cadavers.
  11. by   UCDSICURN
    Wow, I consider myself pretty lucky then. When I did my anatomy at a community college in Calif we had 3 whole cadavers and many "parted" ones. Each fall a new cadaver was brought out and the oldest of the three were parted out.

    After my initial anatomy course I was selected as an honor's dissector and actually got a brand new cadaver and had to dissect it out over a year's time. It was great experience. It's one thing to see a body that's already been dissected and detailed, it's quite another to do actually do the dissecting.

    Donn C.
  12. by   susanna
    First off, UCDSICURN, you stink! :angryfire I'm so jealous! Dissecting in undergrad your own cadaver!! (If you people couldn't already tell, I really like the idea of learning by cadavers.)

    But anyway, seriously, I've been reading these forums now for a while and know that this is a very worn out, beaten topic (ie, the posts on "here’s what MDAs really think of CRNA's" and others). So, I really want to thank those here who have answered my tiresome, very newbie questions.

    Truthfully, If I didn’t know about the CRNA profession, I probably would be going straight to medical school to get an MDA. But, I have my own particular feeling of intimacy with the CRNA profession because I've watched them work professionally in the OR and was extremely touched by the very delicate and careful nature of the work and the relationship to the patient. MDA or CNA, anesthesia is one hard, stressful job but one that rewards great satisfaction!

    I'd rather get my CRNA than MDA because it takes less time, less money and seems almost as challenging as the MDA. The problem here is the issue of trust and confidence in myself.

    Its been disappointing looking at the studentdoctor.org website and see them say things like CRNA's will never have the essential decision-making or critical thinking skills MDA's develop during medical school courses like pathophysiology (I looked at CRNA programs and found that this was true; I didn’t see any schools offering this course) and during grueling internships and 80hr/week residencies. Its one thing to say that CRNAs won't have the background education/medical knowledge of MDAs. Naturally, this is true.

    Its quite another and scary thing for me to hear that they won't have the decision-making skills/scientific orientation to be a trustworthy independent anesthesia provider cause Legally, CRNAs are independant of MDAs ad do practice without them with surgeons.

    Even tho medical school is really great experience, Id rather not go unless absolutely necessary because i already know what i want to do. The main emotional motive I have for getting into this field is that I like the unique situation of trust the provider is put in. Anesthesia can kill a complicated case and its no joke. If someone in here honestly feels that with a CRNA education/background, i cant be as trustworthy as an Mda , please do say so.
    Ill post back when I finally get around to making a decision.
    Last edit by susanna on May 8, '04 : Reason: didnt even mean to post the first time, accident oops
  13. by   loisane
    Quote from susanna
    [size=1]... CRNA's will never have the essential decision-making or critical thinking skills MDA's develop during medical school courses like pathophysiology (I looked at CRNA programs and found that this was true; I didn't see any schools offering this course)
    Respectfully, you are very much mistaken. Did you look only at course names, or did you look at complete course descriptions? I have seen pathophysiology covered in a course with a name like "A&P".

    Pathophysiology and resulting anesthesia implications are requirements of the Council on Accreditation, and no nurse anesthesia program could be accredited without it.

    loisane crna
  14. by   athomas91
    i have to take 3 different patho courses....

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