For Potential CRNA's Who Are Married or Have Significant Others

  1. I had not mentioned this anywhere else, and kind of thought it was important enough to merit it's own thread.

    If you are considering applying to CRNA schools, and you are married or otherwise involved in a serious relationship, then this applies to you. The decision to start a CRNA program is not only going to affect you, it WILL affect your significant other as well. Now is the time to have a long, heart to heart, without the TV conversation with them. There are up sides to becoming a CRNA that any spouse will enjoy, pay not being the least. But the path to CRNA also has it's downsides, and you owe it to your partner to let them know before you start what they are.

    You need to let them know what all is involved. They must know that you will not be able to work much while you are in school, so that source of income is going to dry up. They also need to know that from day one of school, until the day you take and pass boards, your involvement with the relationship and family are going to be greatly curtailed. You will be studying, and studying very hard. You will probably be cranky, and if you are like me, noise while studying will drive you up the wall. You just won't have time for going out. Many of the family responsibilities you now have you may not have time for once you start.

    You also must decide now that you are going to have to do what you can while in school to be there for your SO. Sometimes, you will have to put the books aside, and take them out to dinner and a movie, or whatever is special to you all. Believe me, there will be times you will have to force yourself to do this. And whenever you have a spare second or two, (like in bed, just before going to sleep) remind yourself that you could not be doing this without someone else's support. At the same time, remind them how you really feel about them. Reassurance helps.

    I posted this thread, because looking back, I can remember people getting divorced, or nearly so, while in school. I can also remember some real tough times in my own marriage. If it weren't for the strength of my wife, I don't know if we would have made it. I know I wished someone had straight out told me this before I started.

    Kevin McHugh
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    About kmchugh

    Joined: Mar '02; Posts: 2,000; Likes: 66


  3. by   ma kettle
    I have another question, since stress seems to be the underlying component to this subject.
    I understand that CRNAs must be on their toes and that the top of their game. However, why is it that the programs are so stressful and so intense. I thought , that people learn more when not under stressed. Why are there not more part time programs that would allow for a larger pull of applicants. The University of Pittsburgh has a part time program. You do your course work first and then do the clinical and corrisponding classes with those clinicals. this takes three years. I wonder why more schools don't offer that for those " questionable students" why they don't have them do the Nurse research classes, The advance patho, and Pharm classes inadvanced. Then if you did well you would be given a precious placement to their program. It seems to make sence to me that if you have a student that is relaxed he will learn more, will not have relationship problems at home and may be able to finance their education a little more. That is great if you are single living with a parents and your expenses are taken care of. But lets face it, the
    general majority of nurses have spouses, families, and if not mortgages, car payments.

    Why does it have to be so stressful?
  4. by   kmchugh
    Believe it or not, the programs are not designed to be stressful. In fact, most, if not all programs, try very hard to limit the amount of stress placed on students. The fact is that learning anesthesia is, in and of itself, very stressful. First, the material you must learn is very difficult, and takes time to understand. Next, provision of an anesthetic ain't no cake walk, either. The first several times you do an induction, you are terrified. That's true for anyone. Add to this that there is a finite amount of time to learn the subject material, which increases the stress. Next, there is the knowledge that making a poor impression on the CRNA's you are working with can be "non-career enhancing." And finally, the knowledge that doing poorly in only one or two classes can end your school experience. The stress is not added, it is built in.

    Kevin McHugh
  5. by   kmchugh
    I just looked at the U of P part time program. Go to their site at

    Only the first year is part time. Years 2, 3, and 4 are full time, and look just as heavy as the course work I did in two years.

    Kevin McHugh
  6. by   WntrMute2
    There seems to be a bit of the old "well it was harder for me back then" crap going around which I believe makes this worse. Also, the schools in general are trying to prepare you to stand toe to toe with a bunch af docs that aren't happy to be with you. They want you to be on equal footing with your competence and your knowledge. Also, there is a lot of material to cover, the programs range from 24 to 36 months, maybe the longer programs are a little slower paced. They must balance the amt of info verses the decrease in applicants at longer programs. I do agree with you though, They slap a 4 inch packet of outline in front of you and then are ticked that you don't know it immediatly, I keep feeling like if they'd just slow down a notch, I would know the information they want. I know at my program no one has time for anytrhing but schoo; but I had friends at Mayo that seemed a bit more relaxed and claimed they even had an occasional weekend to themselves.
  7. by   kmchugh

    I know EXACTLY what you mean. I can remember thinking "if only there were two or three more hours in every day, I could probably get enough studying done!" The work is fast paced and intense. Hang tough, you'll make it.

    Kevin McHugh
  8. by   Doug Cameron
    Thanks for the advice on the "significant other" side of life, Kevin. Well said. I could not even think about doing this were it not for my wife. She is great. I'm thankful for the reminder to let her know how much I appreciate her!
  9. by   CamilleL
    Thank you so much for your generousity of time and knowledge. I am interested in finding out the experience of wowen with families and how they managed the demands of children, spouse , household and the rigors of the CRNA Program. I have spoken with one CRNA who found the married men in her class were often able to concentrate and focus solely on their academics because their wives took care of everything else, but on the other hand her female classmates with families appeared not to have as much support as far as managing the home and kids. This made it more challenging and stressful.
    I am currently enrolled in a BSN program; just completed my junior year. I am married and have three children ranging from the age of 3 to 11. So, I am particularly interested in getting some feedback about this. My goal is to work in a critical care unit for a year or two, then start a CRNA program. With a family, planning is vital to succeeding .
    I would appreciate any and all advice!
  10. by   SambvcaSim
    Thanks for sharing this Kevin! I have recently been accepted into a CRNA program, and have a long marriage with a young child. For the last two years I primed my husband on what to expect and gave him the worst scenerios on what to expect while I am in school. I have made it sound like I was going AMA for 32 months! He has accepted the challenge, and my mind is at ease..knowing that he knows what to expect in the coming months. I, too, believe you need to prime your family for your future endeavors, to ease in the process of change. I will let you know if my preparation helped my family.
  11. by   kmchugh
    Since there are a number of new people to the board, I wanted to bring this topic back to the front. I really think that folks who are thinking of applying to CRNA programs who have significant others need to sit down with the SO and let them know what YOU are getting THEM into.

  12. by   versatile_kat
    Thanks for bringing this up again, Kevin. I started talking with my husband about the rigors of school several months ago when I first read Craig's blog. I specifically made him read the entry about Georgetown's orientation and how the speaker was pretty pessimistic about relationships while in the program. Luckily, my husband has been supportive of my decision's since the day we met and he's ready and willing for the challenges ahead. I think more potential student's and first semester student's ought to be aware of the affect school has on their personal lives, so I'm glad you're reminding everyone.
  13. by   Athlein
    So true.
    As one SRNA stated plainly, "Hell, I don't even have the extra time or energy to have [relations] with my wife".
    This issue is much deeper than who takes out the garbage and changes the oil in the car. When you are gone from 0500 to 1900, and you have hours of care-planning to do once you get home, there isn't time for much of anything. Really.
    Something to think about - and talk over with your better half before you start down this road. Better yet, keep talking while you are in school. Communication is key.
  14. by   London88
    I am half way through my first semester and I really do not find it bad. Yes we are in school everyday, but our classes are usually done by 1-2pm. Usually it is 1pm. On certain days we are in lecture for 3 hours. Our program also incorporates study days so that you do have time to catch up. Obviously thing will change when we are in clinical every day but we will not have as much didactic and fewer exams. I chose the three year route and find it very manageable. In my program the first semester is the toughest semester and we are half way through it. It also helps when you have a program director who will not allow students to spend ridiculously long hours in the clinical area. I love going to school in the Philadelphia area as four of the schools participate in co-op teaching so you get to sit in lectures frequently with the other schools, and there is an element of comraderie and we help each other out.

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