Experience/GRE?

  1. Hello! I've been a nurse in a medical progressive care unit for approximately 6mo. When I reach 1 year, I want to transfer to an ICU. Right now, I am considering the MICU, SICU, and CVICU. Which of these units would best prepare me for a CRNA program?

    Additionally, I want to begin reviewing for the GRE. What is the best way to go about studying? I was hoping to do a self-paced online review course like I did when I took my NCLEX because that worked really well for me. I did a quick google search and the prices were shocking. Nearly $1000 for a review course- REALLY?!?! I'm just not willing to spend more money reviewing for the GRE than I did the NCLEX. I did stumble upon a website called Magoosh that offers 6mo access for $149, which I can actually afford with a new nurse paycheck. But the difference in price has me concerned about the quality. Has anyone tried Magoosh before? Or does anyone have any other affordable review methods that worked well?

    Thanks!!!!!
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    About mph53953

    Joined: Dec '16; Posts: 6
    from PA , US

    7 Comments

  3. by   Shanimal
    Many--if not most--nurse anesthesia schools prefer surgical ICU experience, whether it's a general SICU or CVICU. Some schools prefer ICU experience in a Level I Trauma Center, regardless of ICU subspecialty. Certainly all anesthesia schools prefer ICU experience with high acuity patients and a good deal of nursing autonomy. Best to field this question to potential schools you're looking into for more specific advice.

    This may not be exactly what you want to hear, but I would caution you against spending much time or focus on GRE stuff right now--your time and effort would be much better spent focusing on developing leadership qualities to put on your CV (committee involvement, volunteer work, etc.), earning professional certifications, and getting into an ICU. Then, when you're in the ICU, focusing your time and effort on becoming a strong ICU nurse (a pretty big learning curve in itself) and earning your CCRN credentials (plus other certs if possible). The GRE is a small piece of the nurse anesthesia school application, and while at least moderately strong scores are important, perfect scores won't offset weak professional experience, leadership skills, and clinical knowledge.

    ETS, the company that writes the GRE test, has several books and study aids available that are reasonable priced. Of all the GRE study aids I had available, these were the most helpful. They also offer practice tests you can take to get a good sense of your baseline so that you can better focus you studying efforts. I supplemented with Magoosh and Khan Academy (free) to go over concepts I needed to better understand. Skip the review courses from Princeton, Kaplan, etc. unless you really need intense instruction on everything (and most people don't)--$1000+ is way too much money for a relatively minor part of the nurse anesthesia school application.
  4. by   DreameRN
    I'd say if your goal is CRNA, get into a high acuity ICU as soon as you can. Any of those ICUs would be fine, you'll probably get more exposure to OR type things in SICU and CVICU but any high enough acuity ICU will get you experience with vents, vasoactive gtts, and unstable patients, which will start building your knowledge base and critical thinking skills which is what you will need.

    As for the GRE, you'll have to know yourself. Are you stronger in verbal or math(quantitative)? Equal in both? For me, I know I'm solid verbal, so I didn't bother worrying about that. I bought the ETS books, took the practice test in there which confirmed my verbal skills and my lack of quantitative skills. SO I spent months relearning algebra and geometry and all that good fun math stuff through the site that the GRE recommends on their website--Khan academy. They have a section on there where you can go section by section and drill questions and see why. Spending thousands on a review program does not seem like a prudent use of money at this point.

    I agree though, it's just one small piece of the puzzle...it matters to some schools, and other schools not at all. Your best bet will be to get into ICU and start learning and growing into those skills.
  5. by   propofolsbff
    I did Magoosh. I would recommend it. I can't compare it with anything else, but I thought it was a good tool. I also got some of the ETS study guides which were okay as well.

    If you have a choice, CVICU. But REALLY, any busy ICU where you work with vents/invasive lines/pressors will do. Best of luck!
  6. by   SERN
    CVICU for SURE!! many schools say that they prioritize it. You really learn HEMODYNAMICS and are using a lot of drips that you would use in the OR. It gives you a very in-depth understanding of the king... cardiac output, fluid balance, and perfusion. Plus you get experience with emergent bedside surgeries if a pt is really crashing and the need to open the chest.
  7. by   BigPappaCRNA
    Respectfully, all things being equal, a busy Surgical/Trauma ICU gives the far best experience. You get ALL systems, and ALL sub-specialties. You learn about the care of the very type of patients for whom you will someday be anesthetizing. And it gives you a far broader base of knowledge. You get vents in all three. You get drips in all three. You get hemodynamic monitoring in all three. So go for the broadest base of knowledge. And please, please, please, for yourself, and for the profession, spend a couple years in whichever ICU you choose. If you are truly bored and have learned all there is to learn after 6 months, clearly your chosen ICU was not the best option for your learning.

    Having said that, acuity is more important. Far better to be in a crazy busy, high acute MICU, then a sleepy, calm SICU.

    Good Luck.
  8. by   GoldenPups
    I agree with BigPappaCRNA! I've been in a general ICU that encompasses neuro, trauma, MICU, and SICU for the past five years. I chose general ICU over cardiothoracic ICU for this reason. I recently applied to my CRNA programs and have begun the interview process. Further, there's a certain intangible knowledge base that comes from years at the bedside you only achieve from the sheer amount of hours spent in critical care nursing. I'm thankful for every experience I've had thus far and believe its culminated to where I am today. Choose your place of employment, be patient, humble yourself, and your time will come!
  9. by   AGRN152
    CVICU no doubt, as someone else said you will be able to manage complex hemodynamics, wean and extubate patients regularly and constantly manage vasoactive drips and sedation agents. You may not get much experience using paralytics but overall, this is one of the highest acuity levels of ICU and most schools will see this as an edge. I was a MICU nurse for a few years before I went to CVICU and learned a lot in the OHRU setting.

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