Pre-CRNA thinking about AA now

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    I am currently a student at Emory University in the BSN program. I have a year left, and ultimately I want to become a CRNA. That means that after graduation I will need to find an ICU job, sign a two year contract to get trained there (at least at Emory), and work for (realistically) 3-4 years in the ICU before I can get into CRNA school. The thing is, I'm from Georgia, and I like it here. Eventually, I'd like to relocate, but I'm 22 and all my family is here so I'm just not looking to go out of state anytime soon. My current GPA is 3.2, and honestly it'll probably stay around that by the time of graduation. Emory is hard and they use a grading scale that makes my average of a 3.2 about a 86/87 overall average. I would love to become a CRNA and it really is my goal, but another option has recently become apparent to me. Emory has a PA program that trains students to become AA's (Master of Medical Science). A current student that is graduating that program this year reported a job offer (though in a more rural area of Georgia) paying $150,000 plus overtime/yr. THAT'S HUGE! I'm becoming tempted to just go straight into the AA program here at Emory so that I can start making that kind of money in two more years after graduation, instead of working ICU and MAYBE getting into CRNA school somewhere far from home. The only thing is, I know AA's are fairly limited in job opportunities and 150k sounds like the max one can really make. I originally wanted to work independently one day as a CRNA in an outpatient plastic or orthopedic surgery center, ideally. But AA's, it seems, only work in larger hospitals under constant supervision. I'm looking at the pro's and con's, and I think I would have an easier time getting into AA school here. It feels like less of a risk to take then going out and working full time for an indefinite number of years while waiting to get into CRNA school. But will I regret it? I don't want to feel like I've settled in the end but that salary and the possibility of being done and earning it way sooner is, again, very tempting. Any insight would be great, I've shadowed a CRNA before and loved it, and plan to shadow an AA soon, possibly over spring break. But lately I've just been so excited that the light at the end of the tunnel seems so much closer now! However, I don't want to let this excitement cloud my judgement for a long-term career choice. Thanks everybody! I sincerely appreciate it.

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  3. 10 Comments so far...

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    It looks like you are already know the cons of becoming an AA. You can never work independently or outside of an ACT type practice as an AA. The states and hospitals you can work at are limited as an AA. AAs are used as a political tool by the ASA and if things change in the future to again include a federal opt out and/or more independence for APNs it will only lessen the demand/need for AAs. The path for an AA is a short goal with limited opportunities and an uncertain future. CRNAs have been around for 150 years and the need for CRNAs is only growing stronger. Somethings are worth the investment in time and experience.
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    See my response in the pre-crna forum.
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    Thanks for the advice, wtbcrna. May I ask you what you do? Any experience in anesthesia? I understand that the AA path is uncertain, but I feel that my chances of getting into CRNA school are too. I will be taking the GRE this summer, and hopefully work at Emory University Hospital after graduation, which will require a two year agreement. Do you think that with my GPA and this experience I would be a sufficient candidate?
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    Quote from blongor
    Thanks for the advice, wtbcrna. May I ask you what you do? Any experience in anesthesia? I understand that the AA path is uncertain, but I feel that my chances of getting into CRNA school are too. I will be taking the GRE this summer, and hopefully work at Emory University Hospital after graduation, which will require a two year agreement. Do you think that with my GPA and this experience I would be a sufficient candidate?
    I am a USAF CRNA. There are well over 100 CRNA schools. Your chances of getting into one of them is quite good if you are willing to apply to several nurse anesthesia schools.
    Last edit by wtbcrna on Mar 4, '13
    blongor likes this.
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    Alright, well it honestly is my dream to become a CRNA. I cannot wait for the day when I get that acceptance letter. You've helped me out a lot, and I think the AA path would be settling for me. Thanks again.
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    I have to say that I agree with wtbcrna on this one. By going the AA route, you will be limiting your potential quite a bit. Now, that isn't to say that there aren't some awesome AA's out there. Maybe you can try to see if you can shadow an AA and see things from their prospective. I chose the CRNA route because I want the independence and the ability to go off and do my own thing if I choose to. AA's do not have the option.
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    Threads merged......
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    CRNA is a good cost saving from MD anesthesiologists for hospitals looking to save more money.
    Chose what would make you happiest.
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    Hey, blongor. Have you looked into Georgia Regents University's (formerly GHSU, formerly MCG) nurse anesthesia program? It's in Augusta, Georgia and only 2 to 2 1/2 hours from Atlanta.


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