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I can only speak for the program which I am in and it is an integrated program. So far, I like that it has been integrated because you get exposure to the OR early and are able to start developing your clinical skills. I have also found that I am able to apply certain things that I have learned in class into clinical practice. One example is airway anatomy and intubating. It is one thing to read and learn about it and practice in sim lab, but to actually start to DL and see the anatomy for yourself and what it is like to put the tube through the vocal cords is something else.
I'm sure everyone has a different opinion, but I have been very happy that my program is integrated.
I am in a front loaded program. When I was looking at schools I really felt this was the better option. I liked the idea of having most of the "textbook stuff" out of the way. Honestly, now, I wish our program was at least integrated some. Getting ready to start clinical next month and there are so many things that I don't know and I feel like had I been in the OR from the start I would be more prepared. Most of the stuff is pretty simple (think starting in ICU and trying to decide when to titrate your drips) and I think it will be no problem once I actually start doing it. But, having only done classroom anesthesia up until this point I am really stressed about it.
My program is somewhat in between. First semester is all didactic with 2 weeks of OR shadowing near the end. Then starting second semester its 2 days a week of clinical. From there on out the number of clinical days increases while classes decrease.
I don't know about the experiences of people in other programs, but I'd imagine that being in a fully integrated program (Clinical from the start) would be difficult without at least a baseline knowledge, and a truly front loaded program might also be difficult as some people need to have hands on to really understand & apply the didactic.
I'd say, think about how you did on orientation as a new RN. And be honest with yourself. If you feel like you picked up quick and learned things best by demonstration and practical application, and were quick to learn and apply, then front loaded might suit you well. If you need to learn all of the why's to understand, then didactic would probably be better. If you are one of the latter, being in the OR with CRNA's with high expectations is probably not a good idea.
My program is integrated. We start clinicals in our second quarter one day a week. As each quarter begins, so does our clinical days. I like the fact that our program has clinical and didactics on separate days. I know some integrated programs in Florida have students doing clinicals from 7a-3pm and then come in that night at 7pm for lectures til 10pm. Now that would be really hard for me to do. We do sim lab, preop interviews, and the process of induction, maintenance, and emergence from anesthesia the first quarter.