Applying to graduate school can be a stressful process, especially if applying to schools as competitive as those offering CRNA programs. A little background on what goes into applying can help give you an edge. To get some insight into the CRNA program application process, we talked to one nurse who has (successfully!) applied to CRNA programs. Here’s what Anna, CCU nurse and CRNA in progress, had to say about the experience.
Tell us about the process of applying to a CRNA program. Do you have any advice to share with CRNA program applicants?
Many schools have rolling application deadlines, others have firm dates. So, start looking at programs whenever you feel ready to go back to school, you may find a program to accommodate your schedule. Keep in mind, however, that you may not begin your program for six months to a year after being accepted. Some schools allow you to take a few courses in the interim to get ahead. If you can, take advantage of this opportunity.
The interview process for CRNA programs can be intense and extensive. Some programs ask you to meet with current students, multiple professors, and admissions staff. In interviews you may even be grilled on clinical knowledge or given a clinical scenario and asked about the appropriate course of action. You can do some online research to help prepare. Look for questions others have been asked so you know what to expect.
In my interview, I was presented with a clinical scenario I wasn’t sure about. Still, I attempted to answer. After the interview I was told that although I didn’t give exactly the right answer I remained calm under pressure and showed logical reasoning. In an interview, CRNA programs aren’t only looking for correct answers, they are looking for students who are confident, able to make independent decisions under pressure, and who are teachable.
What should nurses look for in a CRNA program?
I would recommend finding a program that offers a one-on-one clinical experience. If the school does not offer this, ask how many students are assigned to work with each CRNA. Attending a program where one CRNA is responsible for training multiple students concurrently may deduct from your learning experience.
Also, ask about the hospital system you will work within during your clincals. I was lucky because there are so many hospitals in Orlando where I attend my program. The farthest I have to travel for clinicals is an hour. In some programs, students may even be required to travel to other states to get the level of clinical experience required in a CRNA program. Ask how many operative cases students graduate with- the more practice you have, the better.
Finally, look at online reviews for each program. Reviews can give you some insight into what to expect. However, take these with a grain of salt like you would Yelp reviews of a restaurant. Remember that the hospital system within which you are placed can have a more significant impact on your education than the school itself.
Do you have any advice for nurses going back to school to become CRNAs?
Make sure school can be your primary focus. I moved far away from home to attend my program which has been a big help. I don’t have a lot of distractions. Your program will work best if you have can have tunnel vision for a few years. The people in my program who have the most trouble are those who are married, have children, or have other obligations. The program is doable with a family, but make sure they understand how taxing the program will be on your time and energy. Make sure those around you are on board with your education plans.
“Thank You” to Anna for sharing her experiences as a CRNA student and applicant!