Paths To Critical Care (true story)

Specialties Critical

Published

Specializes in burn ICU, SICU, ER, Trauma Rapid Response.

Two high school friends, both want to be nurses.
Kelly (names have been changed) works hard in school to get accepted to a good college. Doing so ment she missed out on some fun. She got a 4.0 and accepted to Marquette University BSN program. 
    Her friend Jeremy did OK in high school, graduated with a 3.2 GPA and got accepted to the local Wisconsin technical college's ADN program that costs $7k. He was able to pay for it by living at home and working part time.
    Two years later he graduates, passes NCLEX, and gets hired into a demanding 9 month nurse residency for new grads going directly into ICU. Four years after  starting nursing school he has earned a BSN online that the hospital paid for, got his CCRN certification, has two solid years of experience,  and earned $160k in those two years. He is now planning on applying to CRNA programs.
    At the same time Kelly graduates from Marquette with her BSN, passes NCLEX, and gets hired into the same nurse residency program where her old friend Jeremy is assigned as her secondary preceptor. 
    Four years after starting nursing school Kelly is an RN with a BSN, zero experience,  has earned no money, and has a $600/month student loan payment.
    Kelly realizes the difference in the paths the two of them took and is PISSED! Mostly at herself for choosing the path she did, but also at the adults who counseled and guided her in high school.
    I know both of them well and was Jeremy 's primary preceptor when he was a new grad. Kelly tells this story to anyone who will listen.

Buyer beware. Although for certain advanced practice degrees and leadership/administration roles, a BSN from Marquette carries more gravitas than a piece meal pathway to entry into practice. After 5-10 years, whatever differences in clinical advantages that may have existed at entry into practice would become irrelevant. It's a matter of being savy in what decisions the 4 year BSN person makes next. Absolutely possible to turn the short term disadvantages into long term benefits over the longer term. 

PMFB-RN said:

 He is now planning on applying to CRNA programs.

I have to agree with @offlabel, I think you're making a few bold and sweeping generalizations.

I think your points about the financial benefits of going through the ADN route are entirely valid. I also think that people who go through the ADN route can absolutely have equal or even superior clinical skills compared to BSNs, and that after a certain amount of hands-on experience, the place where you went to school ultimately doesn't affect your clinical practice.

That said, just because he's planning on applying to CRNA programs doesn't mean that he'll get in, or be as competitive of a candidate as someone who went to a really reputable BSN program. I'm sure that there are plenty of ADNs out there who completed reputable RN-BSN bridge programs, got great grades, and have gotten into CRNA school. But I know with certainty that there are ADNs exactly like 'Jeremy' who started with ADN, got 5+ years of ICU experience, completed a middle-of-the-road online RN-BSN bridge program, and can't get accepted into CRNA school because I have personally met a handful of them.  And they are pissed that they have far more years of hands-on ICU experience than the new grad BSNs who are getting accepted into CRNA school with only 2 years of ICU experience, but they keep getting rejected year after year when they apply.

CRNA school is extremely competitive, and because of that, the place where you completed your undergrad is far more important than in less graduate competitive programs (like FNP or CNS).  I'm not saying it can't be done, but an ADN with a 3.2 GPA who completes their RN-BSN through a notriously crappy online program is going to have a way harder time getting into the school of their choice than a BSN with a 3.2 from a highly regarded brick-and-mortar BSN program, assuming they have equivalent clinical experience.

The place where you completed your undergrad is also the only thing on your CRNA application that you can't change. You can always get more ICU leadership experience, more CRNA shadowing experience, and better references, but the place where you went to school (and the grades that you got) will always be the same. If the school where you completed your undergrad is the main thing holding you back on your CRNA school application, the only way to make your application stronger is to complete further graduate-level coursework on your own time and with your own money to prove that you can get excellent grades in demanding science courses like organic chemistry. CRNA school requires great ICU clinical experience/judgment, but it also requires extremely strong academic skills. And with a less competitive academic track record, you might have a harder time convincing CRNA programs that you can actually handle the graduate level coursework.

No offense to 'Jeremy,' but the level of smugness and condescension in this post is seriously rubbing me the wrong way, especially because in certain circumstances this advice may be empirically wrong.

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