5 Tips for Planning Roadmap for CRNA

Thinking of Becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist?

If you're considering becoming a CRNA, you may be wondering where to start. These five steps will help give you a broad overview of the steps you'll need to take.

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Thinking of Becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist?

The path to CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) can be long and challenging. It's important you take steps one at a time to ensure you not only avoid missteps, but that you avoid overwhelm along the way, too. Everyone pursuing CRNA will have a unique path, and therefore unique challenges and a unique timeline to achieving their goals.

Outlined below you will find a general overview of the five steps you'll need to take to start moving down this career path.

Step One: Research Your Top 5 Schools

With over 120+ programs across the country, it's important to do your due diligence! Each program has different requirements and nuances about their requirements. Start doing your research early so you know what to expect, what you still need to complete, and what you can mark off as "done."

One of the most important things you can take with you on this journey is the power of knowledge. It's important to understand your desired program(s) specific requirements. GPA is a huge factor in becoming a CRNA, and while it's a rumor that you need to have a 4.0 in order to become one, knowing what you DO need will be vital. Furthermore, certifications such as the GRE and the CCRN may be required. Additional courses or certain courses may be required that are not part of your nursing degree. Rather than having to backtrack to complete tasks, doing your research ahead of time will ensure you can complete all of the steps as you move through this process.

Step Two: Obtain Your BSN

If you don't already have your BSN or aren't already on your way there, you'll want to start. It's important that you check the accreditation and ensure it meets your desired program(s) requirements. Also, keep in mind there are some schools that do NOT require a BSN, but will take a BS and an ADN. Your core sciences matter most and be wary of pass-fail programs as they can be hurtful to your GPA.

If you already have your MSN, you can still go back for a CRNA degree. Confirm with your prospective CRNA programs that your graduate coursework will transfer!

Step Three: Reach Out

Don't be afraid to reach out to your desired programs! Email or call the program director. Ask any questions and address any concerns you may have. Bonus tip- attend a program open house! This will not only give you the insights you need, but it will give you a chance to meet and network with program faculty, current students, and others who are on their way to CRNA.

Step Four: Job Shadow

This step is a MUST! Even if your program only "recommends" job shadowing experience, it's crucial to complete this step. Not only are you up against competition who likely have shadowed (hint- consider all recommended steps a requirement to stay competitive!), you need to ensure that you know this is the career for you. You don't want to wait until you're starting clinicals to realize it isn't. Plus, job shadowing will show the admissions committee that you are serious about becoming a CRNA, and it will give you a leg-up during the interview when speaking to answer why CRNA is the right career for you. Bonus if you can shadow someone tied to your program(s) of choice!

Step Five: Get ICU Experience

Most programs require current ICU experience; some will accept recent experience. Aim for a Level 1 or Level 2 trauma hospital, but remember acuity is what matters most. Are you getting the sickest of the sick patients? Don't be afraid to relocate or commute for this experience- it's crucial to be competitive. Want a head-start on your experience? Get your foot in the door by being a nurse's aide in the ICU or a step-down unit prior to graduation.

Be sure you understand what your program requires and considers ICU experience! If you don't want to work in an adult ICU, know that you may be more limited in finding a school that will accept your experience. For example, most schools accept PICU. However, not all programs that accept PICU will also accept NICU. Most programs do not accept ER experience, while a few will consider it on an individual basis. This is where again, knowledge is power. Understanding your desired program(s) requirements thoroughly will be crucial to avoid missteps, delays or rejection.

TIP: Most importantly- visualize success! Your mindset will matter along this journey, and will play a vital role in your ability to achieve CRNA. 

Cheers to your future, CRNA!

Jenny Finnell is a practicing CRNA & the founder of CRNA School Prep Academy. Lack of guidance, misinformation, overwhelm, frustration, fear, and burnout are all too common among CRNA hopefuls. Over the past 3 years, I have been fortunate enough to combine my passion and expertise for anesthesia and my love of helping students into a comprehensive, ongoing & supportive mentoring program.

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Erin Lee, BSN, RN

2 Articles; 14 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care, Procedural, Care Coordination, LNC. Has 11 years experience.

Great article! I agree with you that the most important step is to job shadow. For years I dreamed of going back to school to become a CRNA. Then I shadowed and quickly realized that becoming a CRNA is not for me. There was nothing specific about the shadow that changed my mind, I just knew after one day of shadowing CRNA wasn't my path. It was a hard pill for me to swallow because I literally dreamed of it for years. I now know that my path is different, and that is okay. I am so glad that I shadowed and learned this hard truth BEFORE committing myself.

CRNA School Prep Academy

5 Articles; 10 Posts

Specializes in Nurse Anesthetist, CRNA.

Thank you for sharing, Erin! Kudos to you for taking those steps and pivoting to a path you do desire. Cheering you on!!