What would you do?

  1. Hi all, sorry for the long post.

    I'm new to the forum and have several questions I hope you all can help me with. First a little background info:

    I'm a 37 y.o. married male with one small child at home. I'm also the sole financial support for my family. I currently work in healthcare, though not in a clinical position, so I have no patient interaction at this time. What I have discovered is that, more and more every day, I want to be on the other side of the equation. In other words, I want to work with people and help them directly. I have been contemplating this for a while now, and realize I'm not getting any younger. It's time to make a choice and start the learning process needed.

    My first problem has been that I'm fairly well paid now (about 88k), so it's really hard to pick something that I feel will continue to allow me to support my family in the manner they've become accustomed to. I figure I'm pretty much limited to MD, PA, or advanced practice nursing of some kind. Also, being in a director level position now, I've become spoiled by having a significant level of autonomy and don't think I could be happy in a position that did not allow that.

    Obviously, I'm giving considerable thought to going the CRNA route or I would not be here, but for some of you other mid-career job changers, why did you pick CRNA over say, MDA? From my perspective as someone who will have to spend years prepping for entry to either, I'm not convinced that going the MDA route would not be better for me. The way I look at it, I will actually have to spend an additional year prepping for a BSN (or even an ADN), than I would if I simply take the needed science classes I'd need to prep for medical school.

    I am concerned that I could spend considerable time and energy to prep for medical school, only to be turned down. I had thought that the CRNA route might be easier for me to make it through, but from reading some of the posts here, entry to the CRNA schools seems just as competitive and coursework just as difficult as med. school. It this a true statement?

    One other note: Since nursing school would require me to quit my job for essentially 2 years, and most CRNA programs are in the 27-28 month range, it would seem to me that I would actually be out of work LONGER to go the CRNA route than the MD route. What are your thoughts on this?

    Shifting gears a bit, what can you tell me about student loans? My wife is convinced that one can only get loans for tuition, books, etc., yet I've seen postings here that lead me to believe some people have essentially lived off loans. Can one really get student loans sufficient to live off of? Would it be possible to support a family this way?

    Next question: Forget CRNA schools for a moment, how competitive are BSN programs? If I go this route, what can I do to increase my odds of getting in? Do you think my being male is a help or hindrance in this regard?

    Finally, what are the prevailing thoughts on UT Arlington as a nursing school and Texas Weslyan as a CRNA school? Since these are local to me, They would be my preference.

    Thanks in advance for the replies, and thanks for all the other great information on this forum.

    Scott
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  2. 18 Comments

  3. by   Tenesma
    scott... from the MDA perspective: if you are 37 now, and you still need pre-med requisites: you are looking at getting into med school at age 39/40, followed by 4 years of med school, followed by 4 years of residency, by which time you will be 47/48 before you even start practicing - you will incure approx 110 to 150,000 in debt. You will definitely not enjoy the same level of autonomy as you do now until you graduate from residency - because throughout the whole process you will be at the lowest part of the totem pole and will be everybody's b*tch. And the hours of med. school and residency will definitely keep you away from your child for quite a while (mainly due to the number of calls you will be taking - even during 3rd and 4th yr. of med school)... now don't be disheartened, it has been done - but it is very difficult (not to mention that behind smiling faces most med school admissions committees prefer to stay away from non-traditional students)... here is an excellent resource www.oldpremeds.org, and there is also a guy (same age) who is now finishing med school and applying for residency (oldManDave2003@aol.com) who may be able to answer more age-appropriate questions...

    to be honest with you, if i were in your shoes i would probably decide for the CRNA route - it is a great job, great pay and you can pretty much dictate your lifestyle (nice thing about anesthesia)....

    tenesmus
  4. by   nilepoc
    Welcome Scott

    I tend to agree with Tenesma, I concidered switching to the MD route, before applying to CRNA school. If you have been out of school for some time, you will have less pre-req's to take for the CRNA route. Also, as Tenesma says, the suffering will be less fro the CRNA route. Except for the part where you mention that changing to a lower level might be tough. Get ready to be ignored and treated like a second class citizen in the hospital for the time you are an RN. There is a reason there is a shortage of RN's. I think it can be a great career, but there are problems with it, that you should be aware of. Read some of the other forums here for details. Keep in mind, that you will get your autonomy back once you become a CRNA (in most ways).

    As for the loans, you will have no problem getting them, and you can live off of them, if you are frugal. The time it will take until you get to work, will be roughly 5 years for CRNA, and 8 years for the MD, shortest times for both, assuming you don't need any pre-req's for either, and you get into an RN program that will give you a BSN in two years. realistically you can add one to two years to theses times ffi you need pre-req's, or have any number of changes in plan.

    Anyway, the choice either way will be rewarding, and you are right they both are challenging to get into. But with perseverence you can do either with no problem.

    Craig
  5. by   AL bug
    Welcome Scott,

    I am not sure about the competitiveness of BSN programs now. Many CRNA programs will accept an RN who has a bachelor's degree in another field. This would shorten your nursing education. If you don't, I'm figuring 4yrs BSN and at least 2 for CRNA. Plus working at least a yr critical care (but you will have income for this time). So 7 yrs is my best guess.

    About students loans, the program I am in is $26,000 for the 27 month program. The allowed living expenses is around $15,000 a yr plus a few thousand for fees and books. So I am taking the max loan amt for each yr (about $32,000). So for just the 27 months I am in debt over $60,000. I had no undergrad loans.

    My point is that you won't be able to live at the lifestyle you are accustomed to, but it can definitely be done. I would go in debt again to do this. Good Luck.
  6. by   MICU RN
    For many of us who already RN's, going the crna route is much more practical. I myself was debating whether to go the MD or crna route and it came down to 32months for the crna program I am looking at compared with at least 84 months to complete med school and the shortest res. possible. Even though for me it would be at least another 12 months, since I have not taken organ. chem. or physics. However, if I had no nursing background and had to get a ADN or BSN and work a year in critical care before I could go to crna school, I would seriously consider med school. Mainly because you would have many more options in regards to choosing a speciality and because of the reasons Nilepoc listed. Nursing is okay if thats what you really want to do, but if you are looking at being a doctor you will be very dissapointed with nursing. Now as Tes. (MDA) stated there willl be days where being a med student or resident will be hard on the ego. However, many of my friends who were nurses and are now in medical training have stated nursing was much more demeaning in all areas. And in addition, in medical training you are being trained to be in charged and think from day one, where as in nursing you wont reach that type of training until you get to crna school and even then you must play second fiddle to the MD in most cases. As I mentioned earlier if you were already an Rn it would be more practical to become a crna and it is a great nursing job and step up for a RN. But if the route to become a MD is almost the same length or you have a strong desire to be in charge then I suggest weigh all your options. If you were in your twenties I would definitely tell you shoot for MD and go for crna as a back up. I would just make sure you research both options and try to shadow some MD's and crna's before making your mind up. Good luck!!
  7. by   Pete495
    Dear Scott,

    I most recently applied to CRNA school. Let me tell you what I know. Most CRNA schools are requiring a BSN these days, which is a 4 year degree. There are schools however where you can fast trac and complete your degree in say 1.5-2 years. these programs are mostly for those with previous degrees. There are a few limited anesthesia schools left that accept students with an ASN degree, however, these people typically have the benefit of a few years experience. After graduating nursing school, you need to have at minimum one year experience in a critical care atmosphere, CCU, CVSU, ICU(not recovery room, ER, or OR. this doesn't count). After this one year, you may apply to anesthesia school, which is what I did. I fast tracked, got into a critical care fellowship for 1 year, which taught me ALOT, and appied to nurse anesthesia school. One of the big things they're looking for though is this critical care experience, and also certifications in BLS, ACLS, good GPA, GRE scores, current RN license, and good recommendations. If you have all these in good order and proficiency, you will be on your way. see you later.
    David
  8. by   Scott_T
    Thanks all for the great advice! I'm definately leaning more toward the CRNA route right now. (In fact, I just registered for A&P I for the spring semester.)

    Any thoughts on Texas Wesleyan as a CRNA school? Good school? Bad school? I've been focused on it as it's about 5 minutes from me as I type this. I don't want to find out later that I would regret going there.

    One other question: I touched on this before, and I've seen some other postings about male inequality in nursing, but I was wondering if any of you think it's easier or harder for males to get accepted to BSN programs? Any thoughts?

    Thanks, and feel free to keep the advice coming!

    Scott
    Last edit by Scott_T on Nov 18, '02
  9. by   Pete495
    Well, I'm not from Texas, so I couldn't tell you about the schools there. I am from Pennsylvania, and I can tell you that PA has some of the most anesthesia schools in country. I can also tell you that it is very competitive right now. Personally, I've applied, and have been called for interviews at this point. However, my expectations are low because I have about just the minimum one year experience. I got my RN licensure in March last year, and graduated last December from a Fast tracking BSN program. I'm going up against numerous applicants who have the benefit of 5+ years of experience. My advantage is of course, that I'm fresh out of school, and from what I hear, many schools are looking for "that professional student" so to speak. They want people who are interested in continuing education. However, they also want the combination of experience with that education.

    As far as males getting into BSN programs, I would suspect it would be easier for a male to get into one than a female at this point in time. I only say that because the profession is looking for a lot more males to add to nursing. Actually, research shows that more males are leaving the nursing profession within 7 years, but also more males are entering the profession also. As a male nurse on a female dominated cardiovascular surgical unit (I'm one of two males), I find that my imput is not valued as much as everyone elses. I've accepted this, and this is part of the reason I have applied to nurse anesthesia school. Actually, anesthesia has been a male dominated profession, but more females are starting to enter it, and are being accepted as well. In the past few years, I think it has been more female dominated. I should also say that these anesthesia schools had better start accepting a lot more students, because there is a shortage, and that shortage needs to be filled. I don't think you will have a problem being accepted to a BSN program, as long as you have the required prerequisites that most programs carry with them. Check out the prereqs. cuz they can be different from school to school. Hope this helped. Until next time.

    David
  10. by   u-r-sleeepy
    Scott,

    I may be the lone voice of dissent here....

    I always like to encourage people to pursue becoming a CRNA, but I would question your situation a bit. I write that simply because of your age, the time to complete the program, and the fact that you will experience a major "reversal of fortune" seeing yourself through this program. Part of my thinking is simply looking at the money - take a look:

    You're currently making close to $90k/yr. Let's say you can do this program in as little as 5 years. I think (someone else correct me if I've got this wrong) we're limited to $100k in loans right now? Even if you work one or two years as an RN to get your ICU experience, you're not going to be making anywhere close to $90k/yr - believe me! YOU do the math.

    One way of looking at it is 5 years of lost income at $90k/yr. Add to that your school and living costs and the loans you will need to see yourself through this program and I think... you will need QUITE a few years practicing as a CRNA to simply arive at a "break even" point. Part of the reason I mentioned the money is because you stated about your concern for supporting your family in the manner they've become accustomed to.

    I think you've got a pretty tall order to toy with pursuing this thing. At least as an MDA the pay might better justify the significant $$ diet you're going to have to go on. Please remember, all of this is ASSUMING you WILL BE ACCEPTED to a CRNA program.

    Also - you mentioned you enjoy quite a bit of autonomy now. Are you prepared for saying goodbye to that for quite a few years?

    If you pursue it - my hat will be off to you as a true "risk taker".
  11. by   bear glacier
    Pete495
    People in the ICU aren't listening to you because you are male. Perhaps its the fact you have about 7 months of nursing expirence. That is the reason you are going to CRNA school? You probably have good grades and a good GRE score. With that said you'll probably get in because thats all that really matters. If you do get into anesthesia school it won't be because of your expirence cause you don't have any.
  12. by   Roland
    quality of life? Consider, that my wife and I were earning in excess of 120K per year in the mortage industry via our small brokerage. However, there were downsides to this scenario including but not limited to:

    1. Having a rapidly changing (for the worse) regulatory burden always hanging over our head making each year SUBSTANCIALLY more difficult, just to almost stay even.

    2. Working AT LEAST one hundred hours per week EVERY week with almost no days off and absolutely no vacations.

    3. Being in an incredibly sales orientated field, despite having about the most anti-sales personality possible (thus in order to enjoy whatever success we had we had to work all the harder).

    4. Being unable to purchase an individual health insureance policy due to my two hundred and forty pounds on only a six foot frame and because it was a small business not being able to purchase group coverage.

    5. Having the constant threat of an IRS, FHA/HUD, or state audit hanging over our heads at all times.

    6. Having little possibility of "transporting" our business successfully to where we wished to live (Hawaii for me, Fiji for her, but even being a CRNA doesn't offer a legitimate opportunity to work in Fiji but just MAYBE we could someday have a boat and sail/motor there from our Oahu home!).

    7. Facing every month as a tablau rasa with nothing even resembling a guarentee that we would close even one loan THAT month. Indeed, loans would often involve weeks of work only to fall apart at the last minute with no compensation, just part of the business.

    8. Having very little hope of ever escaping that vicious cycle.
    9. Not being able to exercise our intelligence much at all beyond regulatory compliance.

    Thus, for me the prospect of becoming a CRNA however remote, offers at least some hope for a more normal life. If you told me that you would pay me 100k per year with reasonable benefits, and security at a job where I would work on average less than seventy hours per week; well I would agree to stand on reasonably hot coals and be flagellated with a whip every hour on the hour just for the opportunity.
    Last edit by Roland on Nov 20, '02
  13. by   Scott_T
    Originally posted by Roland
    Thus, for me the prospect of becoming a CRNA however remote, offers at least some hope for a more normal life. If you told me that you would pay me 100k per year with reasonable benefits, and security at a job where I would work on average less than seventy hours per week; well I would agree to stand on reasonably hot coals and be flagellated with a whip every hour on the hour just for the opportunity.
    Roland,
    You and me both, brother!

    u-r-sleepy,
    I appreciate your post and that you shared your opinion, but you may have read too much into my statement about continued income. Believe me, I fully understand that temporarily we will have significantly less income, but that seems like a small price to pay.

    What I was trying to express is that I would not make a move such as this if at the end of the process I came out of it only making, say 35-40k as I would with floor nursing, Nuc Med, RT, etc. My family could not really live on that comfortably if mine was the only income. If I did something like that, my wife would have to go back to work as well to make ends meet. For multiple reasons, we both want to avoid that. On the other hand, once we get into the 70k plus range, we could live on that without my wife working.

    Bottom line, money is important (otherwise I probably would not work), but I also want to like going to work every day, and I want to feel like I make a difference for having done so. Unfortunately, I don't have either of those pleasures now.

    This move I'm considering is not as much as a risk as you think. Right now, I fear for my job every day. You want to define risk? Try being the sole bread winner in a depressed economy with a tenative hold (at best), on your job. We're on the verge of moving to the poor house every day.

    Thanks,
    Scott
  14. by   u-r-sleeepy
    whatever....

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