Emergency Room experience

Specialties CRNA


  • Specializes in ER RN, Psych NP, RN Educator.

Was wondering if anyone that has been through the interview process can shed some light on the "experience issue". I have noticed that most programs stipulate ICU experience while others allow ER experience. While there are vast differences among emergency departments nationwide, many, including mine, serve as "quasi-ICUs". We resuscitate, treat and maintain arrested patients coming in by ambulance, manage ventilated patients, use vasopressors and vasodilators, do continuous ECG monitoring, external/internal pacing, thrombolitics, and stabilize trauma. We also hold ICU patients when the "unit" is full. For Angioplasty/CABG or Neuro we transfer out to univ med center and serve as transport nurse. I do admit we don't see many a-lines or balloons. Can 5 years of this experience be used to get into program? What's your input?


612 Posts

If you apply to programs that allow ER for the "critical care" experience requirement, then your experience sounds fine. However, for the programs that define that experience requirement as being ICU, then even a busy level I trauma center ER will not be enough. Even if your ER is a very high acuity department, it is still not ICU, so it would not meet the requirements if the school stipulates ICU. You will have to contact the schools you would be interested in attending to see if ER meets their interpretation of the "critical care" admission requirement.

Ava's mom

41 Posts


A colleague of mine that primarily works ER and moonlights in the ICU I work in just applied to four schools this last go 'round. He was suprised to learn upon his rejection, to the 2 schools he got interviews with, that he did not have enough ICU experience (the apps for these schools said some ER o.k.). He did end up getting accepted to Midwestern (Glendale, AZ). So, my point is to really investigate the school and talk directly with the director before you put all the time and energy into applying. Good Luck!!!!!

Ava's Mom



24 Posts

I definately think you will benefit from some ICU experience. I had five years of experience in a very busy ER and was frustrated to find out that few schools accepted that as critical care experience. I then started to work in a SICU to get my "ICU" experience before applying to CRNA programs and was very humbled at what I still had to learn. We also started many drips in the ER, but what I lacked experience with was titrating to effect and maintaining the patients condition on several diffent drips. I also have more autonomy in the SICU to make critical decisions (We always had ER docs right there to make decisions). Your ER experience will be invaluable, along with some ICU experience. Good Luck!!


144 Posts

I was accepted to Kaiser with 1 year of Peds followed by 4 years of ER. I think it really depends on the school as well. I think I am well prepared for school not because of my experience, but because of my attitude and willingness to learn. I think that's how some schools see it too.

Good luck to you!


124 Posts

If the school or schools of your choice will take your ED experience then go for it. I start this school this fall and was prepared to work ICU if need be but was able to get into my school of choice with my ED experience alone.

There are skills our ICU counterparts will have that we don't and vice versa. If working in a critical care area other than ICU led to inadequate SRNAs then no schools would accept the experience and the AANA would change their stance on the issue.

My friends who have done CRNA school with only ED experience all faired very well in their programs and did not feel that they were hindered in any way. The overall consensus from them is that being a CRNA is totally different from bedside nursing in any area.

good luck!


124 Posts

Well said, Susswood! See you in Pasadena.


13 Posts

The program that I was accepted into took ER experience as fulfilling their critical care criteria. They were also interested in gpa, charge nurse experience, recommendations, and how well I handled stress under pressure, to name a few items. I would recommend you call the schools you're interested in, and inquire about their critical care criteria. And if need be, transfer to ICU to get the experience they think you need. Good luck!

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