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.