Overall, the program is going great! The faculty is very pleasant, professional and supportive. I had heard horror stories about a lot of other programs, such as professors attempting to "weed out" students, intimidation and so forth. The WCU program is not like that at all. The professors treat you with the idea that you will be future colleagues (which is right), which is great. The material obviously is very challenging, but when you're not working any more it's very manageable if you budget time. The WCU program is front-loaded, but integrated. The first semester there aren't any clinicals, but there are a few 3 hour simulation labs. The simulation lab, by the way, is AWESOME! It's very sophisticated, and set-up just like a real OR. There is also a pediatric simulator as well. It has been very helpful to help us feel more comfortable before we actually go to the OR.
At the beginning of the program we had a day of team-building type exercises and a good orientation about how to get through school and the need to have balance, which was nice. They seem to care a lot about their students. There are also opportunities to go to many conferences (twice a year), and even the opportunity to go on medical missions to Chad, Africa, and also Honduras. One of the professors of WCU is actually working in Chad right now, and second-year students have gone out there to work with him. Pretty awesome!
For those who don't know, the WCU CRNA program is not located in Cullowhee, where the main WCU campus is. It is in Asheville, which is a bigger city. Asheville is quirky: kind of like Portland, OR or Austin, TX. Lots of hipsters, craft beers, very eco-conscious restaurants. It's a southern hippie town, and there's a lot to do, even if you're not into the hipster stuff. There's really something for everyone here.
All in all, I highly recommend applying to the program. There are a lot of opportunities for scholarships
, too. I was able to get a small one, and there are a bundle of others ones to apply to as well.
I personally am having a great time in anesthesia school. Yes, it's work, but it's not hell or torture as some make you think. And it's not impossible, either. Obviously you have to study and put in the time, but if you treat it like your job, it works out well. That was a big piece of advice we got from the class ahead of us: if you treat it like a 40 hour/week job, you will do fine. So far, so good!