Failing CRNA School

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    Are you worried about starting CRNA school and failing out? You spend so much time jumping through hoops to make it into CRNA school so how can you guarantee you don't just flunk out and never achieve your dream career? I discuss these topics and give some tips on how to best prepare for the program and decrease your odds of not making it through the program.

    Failing CRNA School

    I'm now in my second year of my doctorate CRNA program. As I look back over the journey I'm realizing that nobody ever told me along the way that I could fail. I was always driven, ambitious and willing to do whatever it took to achieve my goals, so how could I fail? My family and friends knew this about me and always supported my dreams and aspirations. In American culture, we're told from a young age that we can be an astronaut, the president or a cowboy, whatever we wanted could be achieved. You're told that knowledge is power and hard work will be the enabling force to get you to your goals. What happens when you work hard, dream big, shoot for the moon, and fail?

    At this point in life (nearly 30) I have set many goals and achieved them as well as falling short at times. The goal I'm going to focus on in particular today is the biggest one I've ever had, a goal so many of you share with me, to become a CRNA. In the medical field talking about being a CRNA always seemed like discussing bigfoot or unicorns, it's this vaunted position that sounds amazing but you never see them, never meet one. A caveat to that is if you happen to work in the OR which means you see them often but in general they stay behind the closed doors of the surgical suites. It's not like you can just go up to one and start talking, to even get back to them you have to cross that red line that indicates sterility. You can bet that you won't be welcomed back there unless you have a good reason to cross that line. So that leaves all use nurses hearing in forums and through the grapevine about these advanced practice nurses with masters and now doctorates who perform anesthesia at the same capacity as an anesthesiologist performing nerve blocks and PA catheter insertions, epidurals, complex intubations etc. Not only do they get to practice like a rock star independently but they also financially get paid more than some physician specialties. Finally, it sounds like a place in the nursing realm that's headed in a great direction. So you look up the details and realize how hard it is to actually become a CRNA, how long it will take and how difficult and expensive the education is.

    If you're anything like me, you like a challenge. So you start planning, writing down all the many steps you have to complete to even be eligible to apply and interview for a CRNA program. If you already have your BSN and are working in an ICU it will most likely take you a year or two to get your application eligible to get into a program. If you don't already have your BSN and already working in an ICU it could take you many years to be ready to apply. You'll interview, maybe you'll get in but often people don't get in their first school or interview, so you'll try again.

    Keep at it and you'll most likely get accepted. Great news! Celebrate! You've climbed Mount Everest and now you can call yourself a student registered nurse anesthetist (SRNA).

    Quickly you'll realize that the hard part has just begun. You will look around the classroom at all the other students and know that they did everything you did and maybe more to be here. You'll all begin introductions and discussions about yourself and there is the penchant to get self-conscious. The guy sitting next to you double majored in nursing and chemistry, plays piano and violin, speaks three languages, was on the leadership team at an Ivy League University hospital and worked with orphans in Nicaragua. The girl on the other side of you used to run solo trauma flights for the military, has intubated and put in chest tubes in the field, has a 4.0 GPA and happens to look like a model. My point being, all of you will have things about you that made you stand out, you will all be impressive in some way. Something you will all have in common though is that in the next few years, most likely a few of you will not graduate.

    I am in my second year and when I looked around the room that first week, I had no idea that 4 of my classmates would not be with me today. One of the brightest students in that room is no longer with me in the program.

    After all that hard work to get to this place what is the secret to failing CRNA school? Let's get into the video and discuss it more.

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    About Bluebolt, BSN, RN

    I received my BSN from JSU. Worked as an ICU RN for 4 years, two of which as a travel nurse. Currently a SRNA in my junior year of a doctorate CRNA program.

    Bluebolt has '3-5' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'SRNA, previously ICU'. Joined Aug '12; Posts: 521; Likes: 859.

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  3. by   CardiacDork
    Thanks for making this video. My biggest fear is that I'm gonna be a total failure at manual skills. I will be the first admit, that for me it takes me "extra" practice to get used to the feel and dexterity of certain things. But I know it's just about practicing over and over and over. Maybe for me I need to take extra steps and play a scenario over in my head. Preparing for the usual and the adverse. Where my hands will be, what the steps are.
    Etc. but maybe I'm just slightly OCD and crazyz.
  4. by   Bluebolt
    CardiacDork, you make a good point about the CRNA path being heavily skill based. It can definitely spark anxiety if you think about needing to be an expert at placing arterial lines, central lines, PA cath insertions, difficult airway intubations, regional and spinal anesthesia, etc. The bad news is that you won't be any good at these things for the first 100 times you do it. That's when you're grateful for the experienced CRNAs and anesthesiologists standing next to you coaching you through it. The good news is that when you've done it 1,476 times before graduation, you'll be a lot more confident. At least that's what they tell me.
  5. by   traumaRUs
    As a pre-hospital provider, I do "advanced skills". However, I would think (as I'm not a CRNA) that again, its "assessment skills" that will save you.
  6. by   ProgressiveThinking
    Nice article. I'm in my first month of CRNA school and the sheer amount of information thrown at us is overwhelming. I just started and the studying hasn't stopped. I know it's going to be 2.5 grueling years of grinding it out in a library/coffee shop and OR. The difference between undergrad and CRNA school so far? Everyone's really smart and/or innately intelligent (or seemingly at least).
  7. by   JWOkStRN
    Great video! I keep telling my husband that starting CRNA school terrifies me. I know it's probably misplaced anxiety, but sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming. I also keep telling myself that if I was able to double major in nursing school and do well, as well as served full time active duty military and do exceptionally well in UD science classes, I can do CRNA school.
  8. by   crna_dropout
    I failed CRNA school but still lived to tell about it...