I agree too, that you should apply to a few programs. There's a healthy balance between applying to too many schools
"just to get into CRNA school" i.e. getting into a "crna farm school", and having options available. Research the other schools you might consider... who knows, you may find it's a better fit for you. Just because a school is #1 doesn't necessarily mean it will be the best program for you. Some things to research:
1. Find out class size, usually smaller means less students per instructor
2. Same with clinicals, I know of a few friends who are in large programs, and have 2 students per OR for clinicals... not ideal when you are trying to learn how to be an independent practitioner.
3. Clinical locations: do they offer a variety of experiences i.e. rural vs non rural vs academic center etc. What about peripheral blocks, epidurals, central lines, etc. Some schools only offer exp w/peripheral & spinal blocks in sim labs only.
5. Faculty- check out the schools in person, make an appointment to meet the director, see if you can speak to staff. Checking out the schools in person will give you a good feel about how a program fits for you.
6. Front loaded vs integrated program- there's isn't a clear benefit with one or the other, it's more about how you learn best and what suits your learning needs.
If VCU is the closest school to you, I can think of a few good programs in the vicinity. You might have to relocate a few hours, but if you find the program that best fits you, wouldn't you want to be at the program? I applied and got accepted to a few programs, in the end I feel like I picked the school that works best for me! Good luck and hope the info helps!