Becoming a CRNA

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    i would like to dispel some of the myths that icu nursing is a requirement to become a crna. here is the excerpt directly from the aana website:

    education and experience required to become a crna include:
    • a bachelor of science in nursing (bsn) or other appropriate baccalaureate degree.
    • a current license as a registered nurse.
    • at least one year of experience as a registered nurse in an acute care setting.
    • graduation with a masterís degree from an accredited nurse anesthesia program. as of february 1, 2004, there are 92 nurse anesthesia programs with more than 1,000 affiliated clinical sites in the united states. they range from 24-36 months, depending upon university requirements.
    • all programs include clinical training in university-based or large community hospitals.
    • pass a national certification examination following graduation.
    i am a cpt in the us army and a military trained crna who has performed roughly 150 battlefield anesthetics (some of the worst trauma you have ever seen)......i never worked in an icu. now that will depend on the school itself, but the aana does not stipulate that icu experience is necessary. i was a labor and delivery nurse for 4 years (all i ever did) before becoming an anesthetist. i had no difficulty with school ( the second ranked in the nation this year behind vcu) or my boards (my score 600/600). if anyone has any questions please email or post to this thread.

    cpt michael bentley
    us army
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  3. 20 Comments so far...

  4. 0
    You are correct, the AANA simply states that one year experience is needed. You are also correct, the school act as the gatekeeper. MOST do specifiy at least one year critical care. The individual school makes the determination, at least in the civilain sector, what critical care compromises. In addtion to ICU/CCU/MICU/SICU, some say that level 1 ED is accepted, others accept non-level 1 ED and also PACU nursing.

    Persons wanting to attend CRNA school need to clarify the specific school's acceptance of prior experience and also the acceptance of the MAT vs GRE, or both.

    Feel free to share some of your exciting stories. I was reading with enthusiasm about the Forward Flight Surgical Teams and how they 'chute in with 2 CRNAs and can operate, if needed, on 4 patients at a time with the CRNAs sitting back to back, each with two heads in their laps. Our M/M meeting on Wed is by a speaker who provided anesthesia coverage for Special Ops in Afgani. Thanks for sharing your story.
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    Thanks for the response, I bring this topic up only because my ire rises everytime I hear this misinformation. I provided my background only to lend credence to my statements. As a community we are at critical shortages throughout the nation and by telling motivated (potential) candidates that ICU is a requirement limits our pool of applicants into the field. I do feel the candidates should be thouroughly interviewed to assess their potential but a blanket statement that ICU is required is not the answer. The AANA says that the experience need is 1 year of ACUTE care nursing with ACUTE being defined as a stay of less than 30 days in the hospital setting (this fits for several units within a hospital).


    Thanks,
    Mike
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    I had 6 years of L&D and 1 year of ICU (yes I went there because it was a requirement) prior to anesthesia school. As for limiting the pool in the face of shortages by a requirement of ICU (or similar experience) that is not happening because the pool is already larger than can be accommodated. Most of those without ICU experience will go and get that experience just like taking additional classes or repeating courses if needed. Any one that uses "I don't want to go to ICU" as their complaint for not getting an interview is probably not the student that directors want in their program. Especially when there are hundreads of other applicants out there that will do ANYTHING(course work, repeat GRE, get additional expereince, take the CCRN etc) in order to be considered for the limited number of slots available.
    You (mwbeah, as an individual) did well and are to be commended for your accomplishments. Please save your "ire" for the multitude of other challenges facing the profession because we can sure use it in participation in the organization of nurse anesthesia.
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    i agree with all of the above posts... "acute care" unfortunately is not accepted by most SCHOOLS to be anything other than a type of ICU - i have always been an ER nurse - it used to absolutely pi$$ me off when i was told that wasn't "acute care" experience.. if that isn't acute care - i don't know what is...
    on my interview i was asked why i thought that my ER experience was enough - i simply told them there wasn't many things i hadn't seen and there was no better place to learn grace under fire.... which we all know anesthesia requires.
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    Unfortunately, the US Army's program is always lacking qualified applicants (will fill roughly half to 3/4 of our quota yearly), so there is an avenue for people who are motivated to become CRNA (and its paid for). However, most people do not want the committment that comes with accepting a position in our program. So the statement that there is not room for applicants (at least in our program) is not valid.

    Mike
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    Quote from mwbeah
    Unfortunately, the US Army's program is always lacking qualified applicants (will fill roughly half to 3/4 of our quota yearly), so there is an avenue for people who are motivated to become CRNA (and its paid for). However, most people do not want the committment that comes with accepting a position in our program. So the statement that there is not room for applicants (at least in our program) is not valid.

    Mike
    It's a shame if that is the case, but I can assure you that in the civilian world the opposite is true- often 5-10 applicants for every slot.
  10. 0
    Quote from mwbeah
    Unfortunately, the US Army's program is always lacking qualified applicants (will fill roughly half to 3/4 of our quota yearly), so there is an avenue for people who are motivated to become CRNA (and its paid for). However, most people do not want the committment that comes with accepting a position in our program. So the statement that there is not room for applicants (at least in our program) is not valid.

    Mike
    Mike,

    Just curious if you know if the Air Force has the same problem filling their yearly quota. I am prior enlisted Air Force and now have 3 yrs ER experience and have researched going to CRNA school on my own and going back to active duty. Appreciate any info you might have.

    Thanks,
    James
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    The Air Force does not take direct admits to CRNA school. Their quota was 8 slots this year (but only 7 were funded). All were filled. Note, this is down from 25 slots last year (only 23 qualified applicants after 2 boards, including wavering the GPA/GRE requirements of 3.0/1000 on the second board). Air Force students go to the same Army program at Ft. Sam or to USHSUs in Maryland.
  12. 0
    CPT Bentley

    First, thanks. I spent 14 years on active duty with the US Army, and I know what you are doing is tough. So, thanks.

    Second, what you say about the AANA requirement is correct. However, that I know of, the only CRNA program that accepts applicants without ICU experience is the one offered by the armed forces. Most civilian schools have decided that ICU experience is critical preparation to understanding the matierial that must be taught in their program. Therefore, most civilian schools won't even talk to an applicant with the experience you had, except to recommend what type of ICU they should get their one year's experience in. A few schools have decided that ER or PACU experience is sufficient to meet the requirement, but I've generally heard that given two candidates of equal qualification, one with ICU and the other with ER experience, they will generally take the candidate with the ICU experience.

    So, technically ICU experience may not be required by the AANA, but realistically, outside of the military you won't get into a program without it.

    Kevin McHugh, CRNA


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