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CRNA Admission

SRNA   (763 Views 7 Comments)
by gravy94 gravy94, BSN (Member) Nurse

294 Visitors; 17 Posts

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Hi Everyone, 

I just started working in the ICU as a new grad. My end goal is to become CRNA. I want to apply to DNP programs. Can someone tell me when should I apply to CRNA programs and what are some good resources to study for GRE? Any other tips would be appreciated. 

Thank you!!

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jat20 works as a SRNA.

1,156 Visitors; 25 Posts

I'm in my first semester as an SRNA. I only used the Kaplan review for the GRE, but I heard good things about Manhattan Prep as well. As a new graduate, I think you should start applying when you feel you are very comfortable with working independently in the ICU. Try to soak up as much information and experience as you can. Ask questions, ask to see procedures, ask why you give certain meds for certain reasons. I worked PCCU for a year, transferred to ICU, and got in to school with a year and 5 months experience. Look at school requirements in terms of how many years of experience they want you to have. Go ahead and get an idea of application cycles. Get a CCRN study guide. That was probably the biggest help for me in my interview. Shadow a CRNA, preferably more than once not only because it looks good on an application but also to make sure it's something you want to do. 

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294 Visitors; 17 Posts

Thank you for replying.  I am planning on shadowing CRNA more than once and hopefully take GRE in few months.  

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4,633 Visitors; 135 Posts

Please, please, please, put in at least three years in a quality, adult ICU before applying.  This will make you such stronger, and more confident SRNA and provider.  In that time, really work to improve yourself and your career.  It is simply IMPOSSIBLE to learn all one needs to know and glean all the experience one must have in 1 year in the ICU.  And if you do feel you have, it is either a pretty sleepy, pedestrian ICU, or you are not being objective with yourself.

Of course there are programs out there that will accept candidates with minimum kind of resume's, but they are the large puppy mills, and there goal is to make money for the University, and put butts in the seats.  If you look at the smaller, competitive schools, there are just no minimum kind of candidates, and there is a reason for that.

Don't be in too big of a hurry, that you skip out on obtaining a solid base, upon which you will be building your career.

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245 Visitors; 29 Posts

As far as CRNA admissions goes, I would say the amount of hours you work seems to be a big emerging topic. Many schools are asking you how many hours a week you work, an ICU nurse who is working 24-36 hours will require longer training than one who is working 48-60 hours a week. Of course, that's not to say that the ICU nurse who works 60 hours a week is more prepared, but their tolerance threshold for long days and many hours is definitely higher and their endurance is also higher when juggling life, school, and clinical as a SRNA. Cross training to a variety of critical care settings is also very appealing to schools, especially in high autonomy units like Open Heart Recovery units where you will monitor invasive hemodynamic values and wean/extubate your own patients using your own judgment. Be careful if going into ICUs that are too niche or specialized because you risk missing out on key critical care experiences. Understanding vents, therapeutic hypothermia, vasoactive drugs and sedative agents, CRRT on pressers, even basic surgical patients are a MUST. This is MY OPINION, again nurses who work in these units and became CRNAs will disagree but overall, I would avoid ED-Trauma 1,NICU, Burn ICU and Neuro ICU. I would highly recommend MICU, SICU, CTICU/OHRU/CCU. The reason I say I would personally avoid those is because the type of critical care you give in those aforementioned units is so specialized that it doesn't apply to the majority of critical care patients which ultimately is what you will manage in the OR as a CRNA. Realistically, I don't see how anyone with less than a minimum of 2 years experience and four weekly 12 hour shifts would feel comfortable managing an ICU patient by themselves in the OR. As an ICU nurse, nursing instructor, and preceptor I know that the first 6 months of your ICU career is spent on orientation and the last six months of your first year is spent requiring frequent cues and direction from senior nurses that guide you in caring for your patient. During this time, you are not independently thinking and are usually relying on the experience of your peers to safeguard any mistake you will make. Thats OK, this is normal, we were all new ICU nurses at one point. The pitfall is that CRNA school builds on your experience, they are not going to re-orient you to ICU so if you haven't developed the "gut" and anticipatory thinking, you will have a very hard time developing that while being in anesthesia school. 

Getting your CCRN is a must for two reasons: For one, it validates your critical care knowledge and demonstrates to the admissions committee that you possess the minimum amount of knowledge required to start CRNA training. Secondly, it will make you aware of all the things you didn't know, because my favorite saying is that you don't know what you don't know. 

Train to be in charge of your unit. Developing leaderships skills is very important as a new ICU nurse that aspires to become a CRNA. In the OR, you are the go to resource for anesthesia in absence of the anesthesiologist. As a result, you need to have a commanding presence and understand the important of task delegation, trouble shooting, time management, and conflict resolution. This is something that comes with time and experience, start early.      

As far as the GRE, if you had a good enough GPA (higher than 3.5) I would explore as many schools as possible who would offer a waiver to high-GPA students only because studying for this test is time-consuming and costly and ultimately does not add knowledge or understanding to either nursing, critical care, or anesthesia. 

You mention that you want a DNP program, if you get into MSN as of this point thats fine. You can always do completion programs down the road and if you are done before 2025 you will be grandfathered in as an MSN CRNA

General advice is don't walk into your first day of ICU announcing that you want to become a CRNA. ICU nurses are very good at sensing and dissecting the applicants that only want to put in their 1 year and hit the road. They will not invest the time and patience into training you if they know you plan on leaving 6 months to a year after orientation. Additionally, and I know this will rub some people the wrong way, but ICUs across the land are full of green-eyed monsters. There are many who want to become CRNAs but due to life circumstances cannot/ could not. Be wary of these individuals, they can be hard to navigate if you are not a strong Type A personality.

Last but not least, don't give up. Tenacity is key to perseverance. If you apply and get rejected, apply again and again. Eventually, you will be the most experienced and most comfortable interviewing and will get the spot. I was rejected and wait-listed before I was finally accepted and it was the best thing that would have happened. 

This was a very long-winded response and I apologize to the other members who had to endure this post. I am very passionate about helping the nursing tadpoles navigate the pond!

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294 Visitors; 17 Posts

Thank you AGRN 152. Your response was really informative. Usually, when can you take CCRN? I am thinking of getting at least  2.5 years of experience. Also, I have 2nd undergraduate degree in biochemistry, but I didn't do well in my 1st degree. Do you know if schools look at other degrees along with nursing degree? 

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245 Visitors; 29 Posts

1 hour ago, gravy94 said:

Thank you AGRN 152. Your response was really informative. Usually, when can you take CCRN? I am thinking of getting at least  2.5 years of experience. Also, I have 2nd undergraduate degree in biochemistry, but I didn't do well in my 1st degree. Do you know if schools look at other degrees along with nursing degree? 

Per the ACCN, you can sit for the CCRN exam after you have worked 1,750 hours in a critical care setting post-orientation. When you apply to any college they are going to ask for transcripts from all your schools and they will review it with a fine-tooth comb. At that point you have to explain why you were deficient in those areas but even more so, what did you do to improve. I too had a degree before nursing and had courses I far from excellent in, I was asked to elaborate why. The main point being that you show an upward trend in grades and GPA. 

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