Is CRNA School as Difficult as People Said? - page 3

by SlyFoxRN

34,509 Visits | 29 Comments

Hey everyone (posting this here too because I want current students to answer as well), I consider myself to have above average intelligence and did fairly well in college (a top 20 private university). Last year, I decided... Read More


  1. 1
    CRNA school is one of the best and worst things I ever did to myself. I went to an accelerated nursing program before that and it really is NOTHING/ fluffy studying compared to the amount of work and knowledge you need to know in CRNA school. My program has one semester of straight didactic which is one of the harder semesters. You think that just because you are a nurse, you can breeze through an anatomy and physiology course with no problem, but in reality, it is so much more in depth than you think, down to the molecular level. Pharmacology is drilled into you from day one, and frankly my program does a semi ****** job of teaching it to you but you have to know it for the comprehensive examinations that they require. Receptor theory, and pharmakokinetics are vital parts of knowledge base, and nursing school NEVER COVERS THIS ! First semester is what I like to call Weed out semester. They load you up with hard classes, and stress you out on purpose. Then the next semester, you have the same amount of classes, and they add 2 days of clinical. Classes are typically 12 hours long, and clinical days are 12-16 hours depending on your rotation. They build up more and more clinical until you are going to clinicals 4-5 days a week, with class sporadically. I can honestly say that I have put in 10-12 hour study days on majority of weekends to keep up, and after clinicals you are so exhausted but you still have to keep up with the physiology that is part of your cases the next day. In clinicals it is BRUTAL. Just because you used to be an ICU nurse, doesn't mean anything. The knowledge base is so much greater, and as a student you are treated like a piece of crap most of the time. You are evaluated every day by your preceptor, and the skill level required is much higher than probably any other advanced practice nurse. You learn to intubate, place nerve blocks, epidurals, spinals and the pharmacology and technical knowledge behind all of that. I can honestly say that I have given up my social life completely, and I am lucky that my family is supportive of me doing this, some people in our class end up divorced/broken up. It is not uncommon.One other thing with the CRNA profession that I have to state is annoying/crazy, is that there isnt as many of us as there are regular nurses. There are probably 1200 crna's in the state of California, and most of them either know someone who knows someone else or they do know them directly. It is common to see the same people at different sites and state meetings. What I am saying is that your reputation as a student/provider precedes you. If you are doing poorly, everyone knows of you. If you mess up in clinical, all the other clinical sites are aware. You have to be super professional at all times even in your personal life because it is all about how you present yourself. I am exhausted all the time, in debt because this program is expensive, and came from making a 6 figure salary as an ICU nurse in California working 3 days a week to working 5 days a week and making nothing as a student. I am done with this program in 2 months. Am I glad I did this? Probably. Do I love what I am doing now? Its amazing..... would I do it all over again knowing what I know now? ........ hopefully.
    lovemy3boys likes this.
  2. 0
    If you don't mind me asking which CRNA school are you attending? I also completed an accelerated nursing program in California and now I am looking at applying to different CRNA schools throughout California. Would you recommend your program?
  3. 0
    Thanks for all the information sharing. Good read...
  4. 2
    So far for me, now that I am almost done with my first semester of school, CRNA school has not been as bad as I thought it was going to be after listening to many people's emails and from cowrokers who have friends in CRNA school. First, you have to find a program that works best for you...front loaded (didactics first for 12 months) or integrated program (clinical w/ didactics). My program is integrated and the thing I love about my program is before the program started about 3 months in advance, we were given a lecture as a prep course with 4 quizzes that covered an Overview of anesthesia. It had all the gases with MAC, ED95, with 60% N2O, B/G ratios, how to calculate fluid replacement, how to place epidurals and spinals, a lot of meds used during induction, maintenance, and emergence. It covered a lot and the one thing our Program Director said was to take it seriously because the former year group didnt and it reflected in their grades. This class wasnt for credit or anything but it gave us a heads up on what we should know and what to expect.

    When we started our first semester, we had covered so much of what he gave us in preparation plus the new stuff we had to learn. I currently have an A average in all my classes. Our overview class of anesthesia is what most people get in one semester and we covered it in 3 class days. After that we went on to the anesthesia machine and covered it in 3 days. We are so far advanced as far as what we learned in preparation for clinical which starts the end of this month. We are a little nervous but still confident in what we learned and its a result of how our program is setup. Our school name carries a lot of weight here in Philly and we are constantly told how the clinical sites say our students are always prepared and ready to go.

    I also can't complain about our school days because Feb and March we only had classes 2-3 days a week because they built study days into our schedule during the week so we can be prepared for our exams. I will admit the material was monumental but I like the fact we are given study guides 5 days before the test so we know where to focus our studying. Also during lecture, they often give us hints that we may see something again on a test. Our overview lecture had 500 PPT slides and our lecture on the anesthesia machine had over 1000 PPT slides and we digested everything. Majority of my classmates are doing well and there are quite a few of us in the A average club lol. I also love the fact we have a 100% passing rate on boards and an attrition rate of 7%.

    We get to attend conferences and state meetings all paid for by the program. I'm so excited to get to start clinical and apply all of this knowledge we learned. After only have been in school for a quarter, which we are ion the quarter system instead of a typical semester, I feel like I am prepared at the basic level to administer an anesthetic. We have sim lab on every thursday and our exams are normally every Friday. We had 3 quizzes covering induction, maintenance, and emergence drugs so we are always getting tested on Pharmacology.

    Today we did our last sim lab which covered Neuraxial anesthesia (spinals and epidurals) and it was awesome to be able to place the needle into the ligamentum flavum for the epidural and do all of the techniques such as the Loss of Resistance and the Hanging drop test to ensure we are in the epdiural space for the Epidural and also using various techniques for the spinal placement.

    We also took an Adv Health Assessment course this quarter and last week we had actors who were patients in the exam rooms and we had to go in and do a timed preop assessment for the anesthesia piece while also doing a focused assessment for our health assessment class in 40 mins. The more I learn the more I am loving anesthesia. It's very exciting and just to know you will be the provider providing safe vigilant care to patients who are entrusting their life to you as you make critical life and death decisions to take care of them autonomously. Its the dream job.

    I think I read in a post above where one person said they were in class for like 12 hours....for Feb and March we were chillin at home for 2-3 days a week. Some of my classmates still work PRN. I'm at an advantage when it comes to anesthesia school because I am also an experienced OR nurse so many of the techniques and procedures we are learning I know it from seeing it first hand. Some of my classmates seem a little confused like when we learned how to place a Bier Block but in the OR, we use tourniquets all the time for orthopedic procedures. We learn positioning next week and thats one of the main things I do as an OR nurse is to help position the patient after induction.

    Next quarter we have Chem/Physics, clinical (2 days a week), and Anesthesia Pharm, which we learned so many of the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of over 80 drugs thus far, I'm actually wondering what else is left to learn in regards to that class unless they're planning to go deeper into it. We've already learned onset, duration, metabolism, excretion, mechanism of action, standard concentration, and trade/generic names of majority of the drugs. Plus all the epidural and spinal drugs with max doses with and without epinephrine. Now that I think about it, we did learn a lot over this one quarter. We've been tested on meds so much that now I don't even have to think about, I can just spit out to you without giving much though and explain at the receptor level what the drug does and tie it into my anesthesia care plan based on the co-morbidities the patient may present with from my pre-anesthesia assessment.
    Last edit by SRNA4U on Mar 6
    Spoiled1 and matthewandrew like this.
  5. 0
    Was the prep course given by the school for your program's students or.is.it something any SRNA could take?
    Quote from SRNA4U
    So far for me, now that I am almost done with my first semester of school, CRNA school has not been as bad as I thought it was going to be after listening to many people's emails and from cowrokers who have friends in CRNA school. First, you have to find a program that works best for you...front loaded (didactics first for 12 months) or integrated program (clinical w/ didactics). My program is integrated and the thing I love about my program is before the program started about 3 months in advance, we were given a lecture as a prep course with 4 quizzes that covered an Overview of anesthesia. It had all the gases with MAC, ED95, with 60% N2O, B/G ratios, how to calculate fluid replacement, how to place epidurals and spinals, a lot of meds used during induction, maintenance, and emergence. It covered a lot and the one thing our Program Director said was to take it seriously because the former year group didnt and it reflected in their grades. This class wasnt for credit or anything but it gave us a heads up on what we should know and what to expect.

    When we started our first semester, we had covered so much of what he gave us in preparation plus the new stuff we had to learn. I currently have an A average in all my classes. Our overview class of anesthesia is what most people get in one semester and we covered it in 3 class days. After that we went on to the anesthesia machine and covered it in 3 days. We are so far advanced as far as what we learned in preparation for clinical which starts the end of this month. We are a little nervous but still confident in what we learned and its a result of how our program is setup. Our school name carries a lot of weight here in Philly and we are constantly told how the clinical sites say our students are always prepared and ready to go.

    I also can't complain about our school days because Feb and March we only had classes 2-3 days a week because they built study days into our schedule during the week so we can be prepared for our exams. I will admit the material was monumental but I like the fact we are given study guides 5 days before the test so we know where to focus our studying. Also during lecture, they often give us hints that we may see something again on a test. Our overview lecture had 500 PPT slides and our lecture on the anesthesia machine had over 1000 PPT slides and we digested everything. Majority of my classmates are doing well and there are quite a few of us in the A average club lol. I also love the fact we have a 100% passing rate on boards and an attrition rate of 7%.

    We get to attend conferences and state meetings all paid for by the program. I'm so excited to get to start clinical and apply all of this knowledge we learned. After only have been in school for a quarter, which we are ion the quarter system instead of a typical semester, I feel like I am prepared at the basic level to administer an anesthetic. We have sim lab on every thursday and our exams are normally every Friday. We had 3 quizzes covering induction, maintenance, and emergence drugs so we are always getting tested on Pharmacology.

    Today we did our last sim lab which covered Neuraxial anesthesia (spinals and epidurals) and it was awesome to be able to place the needle into the ligamentum flavum for the epidural and do all of the techniques such as the Loss of Resistance and the Hanging drop test to ensure we are in the epdiural space for the Epidural and also using various techniques for the spinal placement.

    We also took an Adv Health Assessment course this quarter and last week we had actors who were patients in the exam rooms and we had to go in and do a timed preop assessment for the anesthesia piece while also doing a focused assessment for our health assessment class in 40 mins. The more I learn the more I am loving anesthesia. It's very exciting and just to know you will be the provider providing safe vigilant care to patients who are entrusting their life to you as you make critical life and death decisions to take care of them autonomously. Its the dream job.

    I think I read in a post above where one person said they were in class for like 12 hours....for Feb and March we were chillin at home for 2-3 days a week. Some of my classmates still work PRN. I'm at an advantage when it comes to anesthesia school because I am also an experienced OR nurse so many of the techniques and procedures we are learning I know it from seeing it first hand. Some of my classmates seem a little confused like when we learned how to place a Bier Block but in the OR, we use tourniquets all the time for orthopedic procedures. We learn positioning next week and thats one of the main things I do as an OR nurse is to help position the patient after induction.

    Next quarter we have Chem/Physics, clinical (2 days a week), and Anesthesia Pharm, which we learned so many of the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of over 80 drugs thus far, I'm actually wondering what else is left to learn in regards to that class unless they're planning to go deeper into it. We've already learned onset, duration, metabolism, excretion, mechanism of action, standard concentration, and trade/generic names of majority of the drugs. Plus all the epidural and spinal drugs with max doses with and without epinephrine. Now that I think about it, we did learn a lot over this one quarter. We've been tested on meds so much that now I don't even have to think about, I can just spit out to you without giving much though and explain at the receptor level what the drug does and tie it into my anesthesia care plan based on the co-morbidities the patient may present with from my pre-anesthesia assessment.
  6. 0
    It was given just for the students in our program. It's a really good course because it ties everything you learn in Basic Principles of Anesthesia, which in most programs you cover it in a semester (15 weeks) and we covered it in 3 days in a class called Overview of Nurse Anesthesia. In our Basic Principles of Nurse Anesthesia class, we learned all of the equipment used by the CRNA as well as Airway Anatomy since we had to know all the nerves in the larynx and what muscles they innervate and what are the signs and symptoms of injury which can be caused by the ETT or the cuff if it herniates above the vocal cords. We also learned everything there is to learn about ETT as well as how to calculate tube size for peds. We learned about supraglottic airway devices (LMA) and other intubation techniques. We learned about the double cuff tube if you're doing thoracic surgery and how to perform a bronchoscopy once the tube is inserted. I'm getting excited as I'm typing just thinking about the fun things we've learned and will get to do in this profession.

    You'll get to learn how to recognize when the ETT is in the esophagus, what the End-tidal CO2 waveform tells you about if youre patient has a restrictive or obstructive disease or if your soda lime needs to be changed on your machine or if your patient is starting to wake up, also how to recognize and treat laryngospasm, bronchospasm, etc.

    Its a lot of information and one thing I will tell you about anesthesia tests is you are really tested on your attention to detail. Our tests cover the design as the CRNA boards...so we have multiple choice, multiple multiple where you have to select 2 or 3 answers that are right, we also have hot spots where you have to drag and drop your answer with the mouse, and we have essays where you have to list and explain and that part can trick up a lot of people. For example, we had to list how you would manage pt in preop who has a cardiovascular implantable electronic device, which is a fancy word for either a pacemaker or AICD and we had to write at least 4 things we would need to do to care for this patient...such as consult cardiology team, find out the age and manufacturer of the device, what prescription cardiology has for you in regards to the device, and what are the indications for the device, such as if it's a pacemaker does the pt have a hx of 2nd degree Type 2 Heart Block or complete heart block and if the pt has an AICD did the patient have heart failure or history of having lethal dysrhythmias. These were all the stuff we have to write out and explain. You really have to know your stuff and know why you are doing what you're doing. Because with these devices, you have to know how the bovie, which is the electrocautery device the surgeon uses to cut or coagulate tissue or vessels, will interact with the pacemaker or AICD. You need to know will the AICD pick up the use of the bovie and interpret it as the patient having v-tach or v-fib.... you need to know how long the surgeon can use the bovie if it interacts with the AICD device.

    Have any of you all applied for CRNA school yet?
    Last edit by SRNA4U on Mar 6
  7. 0
    Thanks for the detailed response. I got excited too from reading your post. It sounds like your program is doing a great job of preparing you. I've applied to UNE and have my interview on Tuesday!
  8. 0
    Hello SRNA4U,
    I am a Drexel CRNA hopeful, graduated from Drexel with my BSN in 2012 and just applied for NA school to start January 2016. Can you tell me a little about your stats? I had a 3.3, 9 months LTAC ICU and have been in my current ICU/CCU at Lourdes since July 2013, 163 verbal/154 math. 5.0 on GRE and good solid recommendations. I just want to know what my chances are, I'm hoping being an alum will help a little. Also, how are you liking it so far?
  9. 0
    How does taking call work? Would it be impossible to live very far from campus at all? I'm about an hour away from 2 crna schools. I usually commute about 50,000 miles a year for school & work although once I'm just (lol) working, that should go down to about 25,000 a year. People think I'm crazy as it is, just wondering if it would even be doable at all with taking call....
  10. 4
    As a follow up post to my last one. I am graduated and working now, and I can honestly say that it still hasnt hit me that I am in this amazing profession. Every time I put a patient to sleep, wake them up, and bring them to PACU and give them report... I have to pinch myself because I keep on thinking " is this real? am I really here?" School was completely worth it. I am still sort of traumatized over it since it wasn't that long ago that I graduated but honestly I can say it was worth it. Would I do it again... yes. Was it hard... god yes but nothing worth doing is ever easy.
    lovemy3boys, wl0889, icu_rn88, and 1 other like this.


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