Is CRNA School as Difficult as People Said?

  1. 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 medical school wasn't for me due mainly to the expense (4 years medical school than 3-5 years residency at a very low salary = loan buildup!). I was going to have to pay for any schooling past undergrad on my own, so I decided I could still go into the medical field, but with a cheaper route - an advanced practice nurse. When I was going to medical school, I planned to either be a surgeon, dermatologist, psychiatrist, or anesthesiologist. I have interest in all 4 fields and would be happy in any of them. As an advanced nurse, I can be a dermatology certified NP, a mental health NP, or a CRNA - making it possible to still follow the paths of my 3 favorite specialties. I've been finding out what I can about all three, and when I look up CRNA information I always see the same thing: That CRNA education is a nightmare-ish experience. That it requires 10+ hours of studying per day, etc.

    So did anyone find it a bit easier than it was made out to be? I'm not saying easy...just easier than people let on. For example, I went to an accelerated BSN program and all I ever heard was how hard it is from current students. One guy who spoke to us during orientation (a last semester student) said "Get used to B's...B's are awesome. You're never going to see another A again." It terrified me. Yet here I am at the end of the first semester and I've made straight A's with very little studying (2-3 hours before an exam total). So I wonder if anyone can give me some insight into what to expect really if I choose this route. Did anyone go to school and realize it wasn't nearly as difficult as people made it out to be...perhaps 1-2 hours of studying per day (with extra before exams) as opposed to this 10+ I keep hearing??
    Last edit by Joe V on Mar 28, '18 : Reason: spelling
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    Joined: Dec '11; Posts: 155; Likes: 142
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  3. by   Zaphod
    yeah, super
    jk, it is doable but it is not the classes it is the training and the hours that are exausting. CRNA school has a way to weed out over confident people, and yes you will study at least 4-6 hours a day if you are super smart as you say.
  4. by   SlyFoxRN
    Is it hard to understand material or just a lot, but not that hard to understand?
  5. by   Zaphod
    It really doesnt have that much to do with the material-which is pretty massive. As I said the difficulty is the actual training, being in OR early, care plans, being on call, learning the practice of anesthesia.
  6. by   SlyFoxRN
    Well you said 4-6 hours of studying a night..
  7. by   Zaphod
    What do you mean. 4-6 hours is not that much, some peope were sleeping in the school library during finals. every semester is different regarding clinicals versus class time-Im just giving you a general perspective
  8. by   MCleeezy
    hey so im going to crna school this fall. I read all the posts and blogs about how hard crna school is. Its very intimidating i must say, but it seems "do-able". I know many people with many other obligations other than school (kids, spouses, etc.) who get through CRNA school fine. I also have friends in CRNA schools right now who study the 8-10 hours a day but still have time to hang out with their friends and go out!!!! I truely believe with good time management and dedication, CRNA school will be do-able.
  9. by   MeTheRN
    Nursing school was a joke compared to CRNA school. I too studied little and graduated valedictorian of my nursing class. CRNA school will not be like that.

    In nursing school, you could sort of figure out the answers. In CRNA school, the sheer mass of information and knowledge required makes that impossible. You can't "figure out" the correct answer, you either have it in the endless pits of your brain or you don't. Studying for the didactic portion will easily take up 4-5 hours a day at least. That's not to mention the papers and group projects/presentations required by most programs.

    Then during clinicals, certain rotations have you on call every other night while you're working during the day in clinicals. Integrated programs that are not front-loaded will have you still studying while trying to balance being on call and doing normal clinical hours.

    My best advice would be to get into a front-loaded program so you can get the didactics out of the way and then just focus on clinicals.

    I don't suggest the mental health NP idea. My friend does it and hates it!
  10. by   SRNA4U
    I have been accepted into an integrated program and this is my preference over a front-loaded program. I have worked with students in a front-loaded program and they said when they start clinicals, it makes it hard to remember the info from didactics because in didactics, you basically study to test and then you move on to the next area of what you need to study.SOme students said you may get OB lecture in the Fall but when you start clinicals, you may not get OB clinicals unto a year or so later and by that time, many of the students had forogotten the information. They said it made the program much more harder.

    In the blended program, what you get in lecture, you will start putting to practice in clinicals early on. Students in the integrated program are much more confortable in the OR early on the process compared to front-loaded program students. The thing I like about my program is students start clinicals 3 months after the program starts and it's only 1 day a week and each semester the clinical days increase by 1 additional day while the classroom portion tends to decline. While the front-loaded students could quote a lot of information early on, they didn't have the hands on experience to demonstrate what they know. So while students in both programs may voice inadequacies about where they are in their learning experience, towards the end of the program, everyone is on the same page. I'm a hands on person and I rather do an integrated program. My program does not have students going to clinicals and having lecture on the same day. Our lecture and clinicals are separated on dedicated days. I have seen some inegrated programs in Florida that have students in clinical for 8 hours during the day and then about 7pm, they come to class for their didactics until 10pm. Which is insane. Our school makes sures clinical days and lecture days are separate. We have 24 clinical sites and we have a 100% pssing rate on boards for the last 3 years, which is pretty good.
  11. by   MistyDawnRN06
    CRNA school is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. There will be days when you wonder why you did this to yourself. And then there will be days when you find it rewarding and remember why you're doing it .

    I can only tell you about my personal experiences. In my program, we are not front-loaded, so we start clinicals semester one.

    Semester one, you carry 14 credit hours. That equals 7 graduate level classes. One of those classes is technically your clinicals one day a week.

    Semester two, you carry 14 credit hours. That again equals 7 graduate level classes, one of which is your clinicals two days a week. And class isn't just a few hours. This semester I'm in class from 7a-6p one day a week, Sim Lab 8hrs one day a week, and clinicals 24 hrs over two days. So, you're thinking that there are 3 free days a week - those days are devoted to reading and assimilating knowledge, writing care plans, memorizing, etc. For clinicals, I'm up at 4am and at the hospital by 5:15am.

    You will cover a ton of material each week. Your lectures are only a framework, and you are required to fill in the meat-and-potatoes around that framework. It will require a lot of self discipline and a lot of studying, concept understanding, and memorization. There are some things you need to be able to immediately answer from memory if you are woken from a sound sleep at 2am to provide anesthesia.

    This week's reading alone is 14 chapters in my various texts. These are not small chapters. You are responsible for all of the information in lecture and in reading for the exams. That can translate into 300-700 pages per week to read, assimilate, and be able to regurgitate both for exams and for oral boards in the clinical setting.

    You will be responsible for formulation of anesthesia care plans. Each night before my clinical days, I am expected to get the OR schedule, and read about each case that I will be providing anesthesia for. I have to prepare a care plan based on each surgery. Also, I have to be prepared to be "pimped" on information related to anesthesia, the surgical procedure, patient position, and patient co-morbidities (etc.).

    My program adds more clinical days per week each semester to a maximum of 5 clinical days per week with classes scheduled after your clinical day. By the end, you will do 50-60 hours a week in clinicals and then have classes on top of that.

    Some people find the material very difficult to understand, especially those without chemistry/physics/pharmacology backgrounds. So far, I haven't faced information that I find hard to understand, but I have been grossly overwhelmed by the volume of the information.

    Oh, and I forgot to mention that anything below a B is considered failing. You can't even make a B-.


    Having said all that, I've always found schooling pretty easy. I have a BS in Biology with a minor in Chemistry, then went to an ASN program, then did a BSN online. I rarely had to study for any of that stuff. CRNA school is a whole different ball game!! I have had to develop major study skills. I find I have very little down time. It is impossible to work.

    There are weeks when I only average 4 hours of sleep a night. Plus, you're broke and probably in more debt than you've ever been in in your entire life. There is also the inevitable drama with family &/or friends, and drama in the clinical setting to deal with.

    All-in-all, you get out of your education what you invest in it. If you work hard, you will become a well-rounded anesthetist.

    And P.S. If you're cocky, or a know-it-all, they will eat you alive.
  12. by   confusedstudent_88
    If your looking for an easy degree program don't be a CRNA.
  13. by   shb4
    Hi , I was just wondering where you are attending school to become a CRNA?

  14. by   bmobSRNA2015
    I agree with most of everything people say. If I only study 4-6 hrs a day ... though ... I would be really behind. I'm starting to do all
    nighters on the weekend to just get through content then have time to go back over and restudy. Repetition is key. The content you have to learn in CRNA school is not stuff you can just fudge through. You actually have to know it. You have to give up a lot while you are in school. Make sure you prepare family and friends for not seeing you for the next 2-3 years (depending on your program length) and if they can't handle that then they aren't really your friends anyways. One things my program focuses a lot on is balance. There has to be balance in your life. Make sure you are getting rest and exercising and spending a little time with family or you WILL lose your mind. I think my main point is.... YOU HAVE TO REALLY WANT TO BE A CRNA to get through this program. Otherwise ... don't even apply because you won't make it without the drive.