Career change: Lawyer to CRNA.

  1. I'm considering a career change from being a lawyer to CRNA. Can someone point me in the direction a non-traditional student would have to take?

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    About Riptide McGee

    Joined: Apr '07; Posts: 5; Likes: 1


  3. by   anne74
    You should look into an accelerated BSN program. This is for people who already have a bachelor's degree in another area, and they take anywhere from 12 - 18 months to complete, to get a Bachelors of Science in Nursing.

    BUT, you can't get into the accelerated programs until you've first finished your pre-reqs, which include all the sciences - Biology, Microbiology, Chemistry, Sociology, Psychology, Lifespan, Nutrition, Statistics, etc. That often takes at least a year to do - full time, no working. Accelerated programs are very difficult to get into - there are long waiting lists and few seats available - and it's extremely competitive to be accepted. I did an accelerated program - 300 people applied for 30 spots. I barely made it in with a 3.9/4.0 in my science classes.

    Once you get your BSN, you then spend your first year of nursing actually learning how to be a nurse. You'd be amazed at how little you learn about real nursing in nursing school. It takes a long time to become competent and confident. There are so many variables, so many disease processes to memorize, so many drugs with different doses, side effects/reactions, so many signs/symptoms to become familiar with, etc.

    Then to become a CRNA, it's an additional two years. To even be considered for a CRNA program, you have to have at least 2 years of ICU experience (at most schools.) A lot of people think they instantly want to be a CNRA because you make good money, but they're not aware of the responsiblity involved - you're doing the same work as an Anesthesiologist, which is an MD. You need to be highly skilled - which truly is only gained through years of experience. School doesn't do that for you. It's really not feasible to instantly become a CRNA.

    I would personally not feel comfortable applying for CRNA school until I had several years of experience as an RN. Most of our CRNA's at my hospital have at least 10 yrs nursing experience under their belt.

    I had a former career in marketing, and it was cake compared to nursing. A 12-hr shift in nursing is like 24 hrs at a desk job. Nursing is incredibly hard academically, emotionally, physically, etc. You're expected to have an amazing level of knowledge and liability, but then also be able to clean up poop and deal with beligerent patients and their families.

    I would research the requirements of accelerated programs near you, and most importantly try to shadow a nurse to see what you're really in for. Being a CRNA is an afterthought after becoming a nurse. Good luck to you.
  4. by   carolinapooh
    Hi! We have an attorney from Colorado in my accelerated nursing class at Duke this year, so you're not alone.

    I am a nontraditional student myself; I left clinical research to enter nursing school.

    Contact schools you would be interested in attending and find out what classes they require as prerequisites that you don't already have - chances are it's going to be stuff like anatomy, physiology, chemistry, microbiology - science stuff. Then check out those classes at either a local community college or university. I took mine at a local community college because I could take the classes at night after work.

    That's where I would start.

    You could also contact your local hospital to find out if they will let pre-nursing students shadow other nurses on the floor - I would call the nursing management office for the hospital and ask to speak to someone in nurse recruitment to find out what the hospital policy is on that. I also highly recommend volunteering at a hospital; there are plenty of patient-focused things for volunteers to do. I worked with Duke Medical Center's Rock-A-Baby program - we would sit with babies and little kids in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), and also go give parents on the pediatric bone marrow transplant unit a break (those kids have to have someone with them 24/7, and usually it's one parent left to stay with the child in the room) to go eat, or run errands, or whatever. You could do this for a couple of hours a week, or just whenever you could. I've also heard of folks volunteering with patient transport or as ER runners. You just want to be sure you can talk about patient exposure in your application; you don't want them to put you to work in the hospital gift shop, or something equally far removed from real patients. When we were given a tour of Duke Med Center by Nursing Recruitment during orientation, I was recognized by the nurse manager giving us the tour because she had seen me/heard my name on the floor. (As a lawyer, I know you know the value of networking, no matter how small the opportunity.)

    You could also volunteer at a nursing home. Duke was very big on volunteering, and they were quite pleased when I told them about my time at the medical center. In fact, I was specifically asked about it in my interview.

    All the CRNAs I have met while I've been in school have been great; very helpful and always ready to talk about their profession. You could probably ring up their specific office at a local hospital and talk to one directly. Heck, that might even be a way to get a shadowing opportunity.

    Good luck to you; keep us posted on your progress and your decisions.
  5. by   Ginger35
    Well, you would need to obtain a BSN and then atleast 1 year of critical care (ICU, SICU, MICU, CCU) experience before they would consider anyone. Atleast, that is my impression.

    One big question is why do you want to go to CRNA when you are an attorney? I have heard that starting out in law is rough because they expect you to do private practice for awhile first before moving into a corporate position?

    I have actually thought about crossing over into law....I will be graduating with an MBA and have my BSN. Or perhaps being a professional student when all is said, done and over with

    Hope this helps,
  6. by   TexasGas
    Do you have an RN degree?
  7. by   Annaiya
    I don't know how much research you've done on what CRNAs do on a daily basis, but you might want to start there. If it really sounds like a job you'd love to do, then you can start the years of schooling that it will take to get there.

    Unless you've recently graduated from college and took a lot of science classes, you'd have to start with taking the pre-reqs for nursing school. You have to have a BSN to go to CRNA school, so 2-year RN school won't count, unless you want to do an RN to BSN program as soon as you finished RN school. The pre-reqs vary a lot from school to school, but generally there are around 6 to 10 classes. Every school requires A & P I and II (with labs) and then it is a mixture of Microbiology, Gen. Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, Nutrition, Statistics, etc. Once you've completed the pre-reqs, then you can apply to school. Some schools have 3 or 4 year waiting lists, almost all schools get hundreds of applications for only a few spots, so it is likely you won't get in your first time applying. (Volunteering in a health care setting while taking your pre-reqs helps, but it is hard to find the time if you're still working full-time.) Also having a 4.0 is necessary. Check out the student forums sometime, and you can see the people with 4.0's not getting into school or getting put on waiting lists.

    Once you get into a program, they are either 2 years, or with a prior bachelors degree there are some 16 and 12 month programs available. The accelerated programs are even harder to get into and you cannot work during them. They are extremely intensive. Many of the accelerated programs seem to be offered at private schools, so they can be as much as $30,000 to $50,000 for tuition. Even the in-state tuition at the state school near me is over $20,000 in tuition for the program. That's hard to take if you're still paying on law school loans.

    Once you finish nursing school and pass NCLEX, you need at least 1 to 2 years critical care experience as an RN before you can apply to CRNA school. Again, very competitive admissions. Once you get into a program, you can look forward to 2 years of full-time school (again you cannot work during the program), with really difficult medical school level science courses. Physics, biochemistry, etc. After that, you can then work as a CRNA.

    If it takes 2 years to finish the pre-reqs, 2 years for your RN, 2 years experience to get into school, and 2 years of schooling, that equals 8 years before you'd be employed as a CRNA. So, I go back to what I said at the beginning, which is make sure it is a career you'd be really passionate about. They aren't paid such high salaries for nothing.

    You also might want to think about why you don't want to be a lawyer anymore. If it is the responsibility and hours, then CRNA is not a good choice. Malpractice as a lawyer doesn't kill anyone. I've done a fair amount of research into what CRNAs do and it is a lot of pressure, detailed work and long hours. Not to mention getting up well before the sun everyday.

    I'm a lawyer and I'm almost done with my pre-reqs for nursing school. I have applied once to an accelerated program and didn't get in. (4.0 in my pre-req courses.) It took me 3 years to decide that I wanted to be a nurse and now 2 years of pre-reqs. If I wasn't so committed to being a nurse, I wouldn't have made it this far. It is extremely challenging to take demanding classes while still trying to work as a lawyer. Unless you have the luxury of not needing to work for a few years, it takes a lot of dedication to make it into and through nursing school. I can't even imagine going on to CRNA school right away.

    If you have any other questions feel free to respond here and I'll try to check back or PM me. Good luck in your career change. I certainly understand not wanting to stay in law!
  8. by   ThursdayNurse2b
    Hi, I am a lawyer and have looked into the same overall thing: lawyer to nurse career track. My understanding (and I hope the nurses will correct me if I'm wrong!) is that you cannot go straight into CRNA as your educational or career path. You would have to do the basic RN training first, pass all of the certification exams, and then do a certain type of nursing for at least 1 or 2 years (I think it's critical care nursing? Also, not sure if this requires an MA as well) and THEN apply into the CRNA masters programs. There are quite a few out there, but I believe they are very difficult to get into and they take at least a couple of years to complete.

    I think the better option would be to do a graduate entry program that would give you a specialized nursing career upon graduation. There are programs that allow people with no nursing (and, in some cases, no science background) to enter as graduate students, do the basic nursing courses, and then within 3 years also finish a specialized MA program. Then, you can later decide to go back for the CRNA program.

    Overall, assuming you don't have any prior nursing coursework, I think you are looking at a 5+ year path to become a CRNA.

    So, just out of curiousity, what made you interested in giving up law for nursing?
  9. by   Phishininau
    It would be the same path as anyone else. Nursing degree (BSN or ADN with an appropriate bachelor's degree) then some ICU experience, GRE within five years, and good grades. That will equal an interview and then hopefully admission. I am not trying to sound like an ass. I was a non-traditional student, having taught high school for three years, and I assure you that the path is no shorter or easier. You need to know that going in.
  10. by   Gennaver
    Quote from mobiusnu
    I'm considering a career change from being a lawyer to CRNA. Can someone point me in the direction a non-traditional student would have to take?

    There are post bacc RN entry degrees, (BS or MS or even direct entry NP). My unifersity offers and entry MS. They generally frown upon the term accelerated unless your RN is less than 2 years.

    Good luck,
  11. by   n_g
    Look into anesthesiologist assistant programs. They have the same job description and scope as CRNA's. You don't need to go to nursing school for it.
  12. by   louloubell1
    I can not believe there is so much misinformation in this thread. I would suggest, gingerly and humbly, that people who are not actually CRNAs or SRNAs, not try to answer questions about what one must do to become a CRNA because several people here have given incorrect information to the OP.

    OP, I am a CRNA, and think I can answer some of your questions, and give you some direction for further information.

    First off, you should know that a BSN is NOT required by all nurse anesthesia programs. This is perhaps the most commonly touted fallacy on this board by posters who try to give advice on an issue about which they are ignorant. There are many anesthesia programs not housed in schools of nursing that award non-nursing masters degrees for the nurse anesthesia specialty, and for many of these programs a bachelor's degree in what the particular program deems an acceptable area (usually must be a BS) in addition to an associate's nursing degree will suffice (a diploma may even be acceptable for some programs, though there are few RN diploma programs still around it seems).

    Regardless of the type of program you choose to attend to become an RN, you will likely need to show that you have completed prerequisite courses (such as Anatomy & Physiology, Chemistry, etc) before beginning. After graduating with your nursing degree, you are eligible to sit for the RN boards (NCLEX-RN).

    All anesthesia programs require at least one year experience as an RN before beginning the anesthesia program (this is the minimum criteria set by our professional organization) in a critical care environment. You should know, however, that most applicants to nurse anesthesia school apply with more than the minimum required experience and you will be competing with them for one of those coveted slots in a program. What constitutes critical care is different for each program. For example, some programs will accept ER experience as fulfilling the critical care environment, while other programs will not; some will accept pediatric or neonatal ICU experience, while others will not. It is a safe bet to assume that adult SICU experience will fulfill the requirement at nearly any program, however it may serve you well to contact schools you would be interested in attending to find out what their recommendations for experience are.

    Programs may also have different requirements for prerequisite classes needed for admission (physics, organic chem, etc) as well as other program requirements (such as BLS, ACLS, PALS, & NRP certifications). Not all anesthesia programs require the GRE. Again, check with the programs you are interested in applying to.

    I'd encourage you to visit the website of our professional organization, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA). They have a nice section on becoming a CRNA (link is on the left hand side of the page).
  13. by   I_am_Julia
    acclerated bsn program would be most desirable.
    (most desirable to me)
    bsn program for those with bs or ba already.
    rn program
    1 or 2 of icu nursing.
    apply to crna program.

    Quote from mobiusnu
    i'm considering a career change from being a lawyer to crna. can someone point me in the direction a non-traditional student would have to take?

  14. by   GregRN
    Last edit by GregRN on Apr 9, '07 : Reason: Duplicate...because this section doesn't allow posting like other sections