Paramedic with CRNA Aspirations

  1. Hi everyone,
    I had a question come up the other day when I was conversing with a few CRNA's and I wanted to see what some other people viewed on this and if anyone has had an experiences. First to tell you alittle about me. I am 23 years old and I am a Critical Care Paramedic. I recieved my EMT at 18 and recieved my National Registry Paramedic through a College in Va. Beach Virginia. I have been a Paramedic for three years now and I spent the past two years working in North Carolina for a County Near Charlotte. It was a rural county, but with a large main city. Alot of my work out there was as a single Paramedic on a Quick Response Vehicle with the Rescue Squads providing transport and Basic Life Support Services. Needless to say I spent many calls working codes or severe situations by myself, waiting for a transport ambulance that sometimes would not arrive. I would sometimes have to wait 20+ minutes for a Paid County ambulance to come from the City to assist me. Needless to say I quickly learned to keep a cool head under fire and that I had to rely on myself. As we rotated every three weeks in the the city and out to the county. Having a level 3 trauma center meant we had to transfer alot of patients to either Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte or to Mission St. Joseph's in Asheville, NC in addition to our 911 EMS duties. I underwent in house critical care training with our Medical Director and the ICU training staff from our hospital and a few instructors flown in from U. of Ohio. We took everything out of that hospital from the Cardiac Cath patients to the unstable traumas out of the ER. I was always in the back with these patients and never had another Paramedic to help me for the hour+ drive. I gained alot of experience with this and have performed numerous intubations and used paralytics, rapid sequence intubation and the occasional "snowing with narcotics" of the patient to get the tube in (by Medical Order of course.) I moved back to Virginia to go after my goal of CRNA. I am currently working on an ADN degree through a bridge program for Paramedics and should be done at the end of this year. I am still working full time as a Paramedic for a hospital based ambulance service and my particular unit is contracted for ALS and Critical Care services from a smaller communtiy hospital. As before I am responsible for very critical paitents at times and do routine Cardiac Cath Calls and Intubated/Ventilator patients all the time (with any number is IV's and pumps running - Heparin, T&K, NTG, you name it). Being affiliated with Virginia's largest Health System and the number one heart center for the state, we are expected to have high standards and levels of care. As soon as I get my RN I am making a lateral transfer to a Large Level One Trauma Centers ICU into a nursing ICU internship program (benefit of my ambulance service being owned by a hostpital system.) While working there full time I will be completing the last year of the BSN and will be putting in for the next application process at a few CRNA schools. I have already brought my grades up to a 3.2 GPA and I am working on getting it even higher. Whew that was long, but I felt I needed to tell you the basis of what the CRNA told me.
    I was told that all of that experience I had did not mean a thing to any admissions comittie and that it would not make a difference to me either way. The other CRNA told me that it would help to make me stand out some more seeing that I have had alot of experience already with Critical patients and tough and almost impossible airway situations (like being a mile in the woods with a state trooper holding a flashlight while I intubate an attemp. suicide patient in the rain - not fun at all, but I did it by the grace of God.) It just blew my mind that my experiences could be thrown out like that so easily. I have learned so much during that time and I try to remain as humble and skilled as I can to help my patients. Any ideas or toughts on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    Sorry for it being so long, I just get passionate about topics like this when I get dicredited as being a Paramedic sometimes.

    RW
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  2. 19 Comments

  3. by   Hidi74
    WELCOME VA Medic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  4. by   New CCU RN
    While I am not a CRNA or even an SRNA yet.... (planning to apply within the next year or two) I would have to disagree with the statements made by those CRNA's. Your experience will make you stand out from others when it comes time for interviews and deciding who to accept. I can only see your experience as helping you!!!! So don't take those statements personally, I really don't knwo why anyone would say something like that. While your experience won't count as the "year of ICU RN experience that most schools require" it will most certainly give you lots of things to talk about during your interviews and include in yoru personal statement. I wish you lots of luck!!!!!
  5. by   arkgolfer
    I'm not sure how the paramedic experience is going to shake out yet either. I have essentially followed the same route you are taking. I was an EMT right out of high school, NREMT-P in 1988, ADN RN in '94 and will graduate with BSN in May. I think my experience as a paramedic was very valuable. While it may not impress the admission committee, it helps to build your character, and your "experience under fire". I anticipate as a CRNA, those "pressure cooking" experiences will come in handy. Being in paramedic school was what began my dream to be a CRNA, that was the entire purpose of my becoming a nurse. Life just got in the way between ADN and BSN. I hope to start my dream this fall. Keep the carrot dangling in front of you!
  6. by   MICU RN
    I believe you can use your critical care expeience gained as a paramedic to your advantage in your application process. As long as you meet the other criteria anything else you bring to the table can only be to your advantage. Maybe the crna you spoke to was trying to communicate that you still have to meet the other criteria and if you don't, it really wont matter what other experience you have. I think you, however, already realize that, so you will be fine.
    I base my opinion on my own experience of trying to become a crna and I also looked into medical school. I am in the middle of applying to crna school for the fall of 2003.
    An important fact that I have learned about competive programs is that they rely heavily on objective data ( gpa's and test scores, mcat, gre, ect) to initially screen the applicants and set up interviews. Then once you are interviewed you have a chance to emphasize your real world experiences and other attributes.
    I work in an academic level-one trauma hospital. And I have watched a couple of my friends who had great critical care nursing experience and had the best reference letters from well known physicians who were faculty with the medical school they applied to and watched them get rejected because they did not meet the other criteria. Such as not having a high enough gpa or mcat scores. And the usually feedback I have gotten from them has been that they thought their experience and contacts were so good that they under prepared to meet the other standards, mainly the mcat. Now what I have also watched is that my friends who met the minimal criteria usaully got in some where and I think that is directly related to their valuable work experience. I also feel this applys to getting into crna school and that is why I decided to share it. Good luck!!!!!!!!
    Last edit by MICU RN on Feb 6, '03
  7. by   loisane
    Anthony,

    You are so, so, so SO right.

    Your explanation of the application process is extremely compatible with what I know of how things are done.

    Your advice is right on, bulls-eye.

    loisane crna
  8. by   TexasCRNA
    VA Medic,

    My friend you sound like you will make a great CRNA, don't be discouraged and go for it!! Yes, your experience is a great tool to get into school( aside from the usual gpa, gre, etc..) but even more so after you get into school. They will still make you meet the min requirements but it sounds like you got that under control.

    You got a good fire burning..keep it going,
    Lee.
  9. by   London88
    VaMedic
    If you have all the minimum requirements, as well as the additional experience you mention above, this can only help your application. Think about this logically! Regardless of what anybody tells you, your additional experience as a medic cannot hurt you.
  10. by   VaMedic
    Thanks everyone for the replies. Work has been nutz here, as I am sure it is for alot of you. I just keep "dangling the carrot" in front of me (as one poster put it). I also realized that I needed to spread my expectations and courses out for another year to allow me to focus on my exams and classes to keep my grades up and not bog myself down before I apply. Will also allow me to have everything paid off as far as my car and all past student loans. Thanks again everyone. This forum sure helps.

    RW
  11. by   yoga crna
    At one time in my career, I was an anesthesia educator. While I don't like to generalize, I did have some problems with those who thought they had a lot of "experience". Clearly, they had technical experiste, but lacked the knowledge of "why" and the physiologic and pharmacologic background. I had one student who had been a Navy medic in the Viet Nam war and was very self-assured, tell me that administering anesthesia and being a student was a totally different experience.

    My message to you--contact some anesthesia schools early and ask them for advise on what science classes you need to take. Downplay your experience during the interview, and be prepared to have an open-mind to new experiences. You will do well if you do that and also get good grades at a reputable college.
    Yoga
  12. by   VaMedic
    Thanks for the reply. I knowI still have alot to learn and I am on the way with that. The new Paramedic curriculum is much more than anything a Navy medic may learn. Being a Paramedic and being a Medic in the Navy are two totally different things. Navy Medics as you stated are usually just Grunts whom are taught the skill, but not why (no fault to them, they do a great job for what they are taught). It is also the reason that when they get out of the Navy they still have to go through a Paramedic class and test becuase their Medic is not recongnized. We (Paramedics) are taught the techincal skill as well as why we are doing that. I have a degree in it and was required to take numerous A & P, Pathophysiology, Advanced Pharmocology and Chemistry in adittion to the material taught in the Paramedic Core Curriculum. The Critical Care classes that we usually must undergo are the same as what a RN takes to get Certified in Critical Care. I do always keep an open mind because almost every day at work I learn something new and usually whenever I come across something that I have never heard of or I am intersted in, I either research it on the internet or talk with the MD's to gain better insight. I have looked into a few programs and I am planning on taking two Organic Chem Courses next year and a few other courses as well. Have to get a statistics class done sometime too. Thanks again.

    RW
  13. by   loisane
    Well said, Yoga. I agree, although I could not quite come up with the right words to reflect the subtle nuance of the message, as you did so well.

    VaMedic, even if you have great evidence that your situation is far different from the one Yoga described, programs might PERCEIVE a similarity. And initial perceptions is all you have to work with, at first.

    I encourage you to give Yoga's advice serious consideration.

    loisane crna
  14. by   VaMedic
    Thanks for the replies. You all have been through it already and I do value your opinions on this. I do understand especially that perception is the key to everything and that the first impression is the one that lasts. I understand especially with the fact that alot of Paramedics take on the ParaGod persona with an ego so big that they can not fit through the door and I try to keep that in mind all the time. Have any of you taken the MAT test instead of the GRE's. A few of the programs that I looked at will take either one, but I was not sure if one is favored over another. Thanks again!

    Rob

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