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Why do CRNA schools specifically require 1-2 years of ICU (and not OR) experience?

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by Jake355 Jake355 (Member)

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Why do CRNA schools specifically require 1-2 years of ICU (and not OR) experience? I thought CRNA's work almost solely in the operating room and not ICU, so why do many CRNA schools only accept 1-2 years of ICU nursing experience for applications? 

Is there a lot of lifting heavy objects and/or moving patients required as a ICU nurse? I am asking because I have back injury and problems.

Thank you. 

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ArmaniX is a MSN, APRN and specializes in Surgical Critical Care.

271 Posts; 6,394 Profile Views

.. because you need to be able to critically think and manage an unstable patient. 

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loveanesthesia specializes in CRNA.

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Are you an RN

The short answer is circulating nurses don’t spend much time assessing and managing patients. They spend a lot more time managing equipment, supplies etc. ICU experience is assessing, and then deciding the best intervention in consultation with the physician, and then implementing the intervention. 

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wtbcrna is a MSN, DNP, CRNA and specializes in Anesthesia.

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ICU nurses manage critically ill patients and learn skills that are similar to what he or she will need to know to learn anesthesia. OR nurses usually are circulators and function as OR room managers and rarely give direct patient care outside of prepping surgical sites and inserting foleys. 

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Rose_Queen is a BSN, MSN, RN and specializes in OR, education.

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As an OR nurse who has only worked in the OR, I can tell you I am 100% unqualified to be using my experience to manage the anesthetized patient, especially one who is unstable. The ICU experience is where that comes from. Just because they work in the same unit doesn't mean they require the same experiences.

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174 Posts; 5,011 Profile Views

Think of the OR nurse as a "Nurse Facilitator"  You help anesthesia, surgeon, scrub, get things done.  There is very, very little direct patient care as an OR nurse (Not a critisism, just an observation).  ICU actually teaches you the foundation upon which your career is built.

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PICU RNtoCRNA is a ASN, RN and specializes in Pediatric ICU/CICU.

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As an ICU nurse now, and CRNA hopeful, I couldn't agree more with what others have said. I have spent time in both areas and solely ICU the past 1.5 years. I apply for school this August. 

My experience is vastly different from an OR nurse in any capacity. For instance, I am given parameters in the form of orders now. It is then my job to manage my patient within those parameters. I frequently find myself titrating sedation, vasoactive meds, giving product, giving replacement lytes all in one shift. All of those things plus continual invasive monitoring of patients is the perfect starting point for someone who wants to pursue anesthesia as a career. 

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I was an ICU nurse in trauma/surgical ICU and cardiac/medical ICU for years as well as some time in PACU and Cath Lab. I have been in the OR as a circulator for the last year and a half. That is actually what is making me decide to go back to apply to anesthesia school after I finish my RN to BSN. Since I have experience in both areas, there is no way that a nurse that has only done OR would have the experience to manage a patient as a CRNA. As a circulator I am more in charge of patient safety in the room. We help the techs open and maintain the sterile field, count, insert foleys, assist anesthesia with intubation and running for instruments and equipment and positioning patients they way the surgeon needs them for surgery. You need knowledge of critical care drugs and how to manage them as well as caring for patients on ventilators and managing arterial lines and central lines and in many cases transfusing a lot of blood products. I will end up having to go back to ICU for probably a year before I apply to CRNA school since by the time I apply, my ICU experience will no longer be considered recent. ICU nursing is a natural progression to CRNA since most of the skill set is the same. The only nice difference is that you are managing one patient at a time in the OR instead of having two critically ill ones in ICU.

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