I am a CRNA. I have been where you are. Looking for any information to help me get accepted into a CRNA program. There wasn’t much out there. I am trying to change that.
As hard as it was to get into a program and then get through a program, I have no regrets. It is a great journey and worth the time spent.
Following is the short version (ha!) of my road to getting accepted.
My Story – The Long Hard Road
I met a CRNA at the start of my ADN program many years ago. I was on an OR rotation and saw a guy standing behind the drapes. He said hello and I asked if he was the anesthesiologist. “I am a nurse anesthetist” he said. I had never heard of such a thing. I watched him work and chatted with him for awhile. After spending time with him that day, I was hooked; that is what I was going to do.
I got home that night, and despite having clinical the next day, I looked up everything I needed to do to reach my new goal. I searched “becoming a CRNA.” I stayed up until 4 am looking at what I needed to do. It was evident it was going to be a long hard road. I wasn’t even a nurse yet! I looked at what universities offered the programs and exactly what I needed to do to get into those programs. I started with the programs in my state and then branched out from there. I wrote prerequisite after prerequisite listed by program and created a roadmap. This was a turning point for me; literally every move I made going forward was with the mindset of how I could make myself a competitive applicant. I was obsessed.
So, off I went. I finished my ADN program with getting As in the rest of my coursework. I also knocked out physics, biology, and anatomy (had to boost my grade from a C to an A) over one summer. By the time I graduated with my ADN, I had secured a job as a new grad in an ICU and simultaneously enrolled in a bachelor’s program. I worked nights over the weekends for the year to ensure I could get the classes I needed. I took more summer school courses to keep knocking out prerequisites. I took the opportunity to write a policy and procedure for a new program at my hospital for my final project for my bachelor’s degree. While my classmates were counting how many people were doing “gel in, gel out” I was writing policy and procedure. I finished my bachelor’s degree with honors and a 4.0 gpa.
It still wasn’t enough. I knocked out science course after science course wherever I could get them. I expanded my ICU experience by taking a per diem position at a trauma center. I sat on multiple committees at my hospital. I took the CCRN certification the day after I met the minimum number hours in order to do so. I volunteered at a nursing program to help new students transition. I took multiple review courses for the GRE. Finally, I shadowed as many CRNAs and anesthesiologists as would let me do so. All of this over the two years from graduating from my ADN program.
I am not telling you any of this to gloat. I met people that had done the exact same things as I did and more. I am trying to show you that people who are serious about getting into these programs worked very hard to do so. This will be the type of competition you are up against.
Back to the story
Finally, I had met all the prerequisites I needed in order to apply. I chose seven programs. I applied to them all. This was no easy task. Most of the essays had to be a little different to meet what each school was asking for. I sent in my applications and waited . . . while waiting, I kept working. I looked up everything I could about the interview processes for each of the schools I had applied to. I sat down with my spouse, parents, and even my dog and went over and over and over what I would say if I actually got an interview. I “rehearsed” day and night.
I had obtained seven interviews from seven schools all over the country. I flew across the country three times in three weeks in order to take the first of my interviews. I got my first acceptance letter and then my second. I knew if I didn’t get in at my first choice, which of course was my second to last interview, I would be going to the place that accepted me second. I knew this before I flew across the country for a third time, but thought, well I might as well get the practice. It was all about being the best I could be by the time my other interviews came. I interviewed at three more schools over the next few months and got accepted to those. So all-in-all, I interviewed at six programs and got six acceptances including my top choice. All those years of hard work, had finally paid off.
I will try and map out for you what I did in order to be successful. You are probably thinking “do I really have to do all that in order to get in?” No, you don’t. However, you want to do everything you can to set yourself aside from everyone else who has the same goal. The application process itself is time-consuming and expensive, not to mention if you actually get an interview. So do everything in your power now to ensure you get a seat if you get to an interview. Programs are looking for future leaders, so there is never a better time than now to do something new. Sit on a committee, volunteer, get a job in a different unit, take another class. Chip away, set goals, maximize your time, and the long hard road will come to pass. Hopefully in a similar manner to mine.
With all that said, I would like to tell you this was the hard part. How could it not be? Almost four years of working day in and day out, COUNTLESS hours of work, class, volunteering, committees, etc. It wasn’t . . . and that was kind of the point. Anesthesia programs are labor intensive and time-consuming. They are looking for people who are willing to work hard. Looking back on everything I did, it was hard to argue I wasn’t someone who was willing to put the work in. So, no secrets! Hard work and that will speak for itself.
Cheers and good luck!