Last week I had the pleasure of chatting with Anna, a CRNA student well into her 28 month program. While I personally chose a career path as a nurse practitioner, furthering your nursing education can be accomplished in many different ways. If you are considering a career as a nurse anesthetist and are evaluating your options, or are a CRNA student looking for a little support and direction, Anna had valuable advice to offer in our conversation covering all things CRNA clinicals. Today, we talked about approaching your graduate program with the end in mind – employment.
If you’re getting a graduate nursing degree, you have a plan in mind for where your education will lead. Perhaps you envision working as a primary care nurse practitioner in a rural area. Or, maybe you see yourself working alongside surgeons and anesthesiologists as a CRNA. Whatever your career intentions, you must keep them at the forefront of your mind everyday. As a student you are constantly being evaluated on your performance and attitude, a fact that can work for or against you in your future job search. This was CCU nurse turned CRNA student Anna’s experience. Today she has graciously agreed to share with ThriveAP readers how her clinical placement turned into a two-year job interview. Oh yeah, and led to landing her dream job!
Tell me about your recent job interview.
I can’t speak to how it is in other CRNA programs, but my recent job interview was unique. I applied for a CRNA position with the anesthesia group I have been working with during my clinical placements. So, it was like I had a nearly two-year long interview. I have been told by other, more experienced CRNAs, that it is almost easier to get a job with the group of providers or hospital where you have not worked during your clinical placements. You have to do a lot of things right over a long period of time to stand out as a clinical student. Your performance and fit with the group has been vetted so you will be selected for a position over other, unfamiliar applicants.
What was it like having a formal job interview with the physicians who have precepted you on a daily basis?
My job interview was more about the anesthesia group telling me about the position rather than asking me questions. Unbeknownst to me, the group had already voted on my candidacy for the position and recommended me for the job based on my performance as a student. Since I had been pre-approved to be hired by the board, I was offered a position on the spot!
Did you accept the offer?
Yes! I know that negotiating salary and benefits etc. is expected, but based on my conversations with others working for the group and students who had also recently received offers I knew that my group has set pay and benefits they standardize across the board. So, there wasn’t any negotiating involved. In some cases, I’m sure they do negotiate but this isn’t the norm.
On the flip-side, how did you know that this was the first CRNA job for you?
Similarly to how the anesthesia group that facilitates my clincal placement has essentially interviewed me for two years, I have been interviewing them as well. The relationship goes both ways. There are a few unique qualities that attracted me to the position.
First, there is a spirit of collaboration among anesthesiologists and CRNAs. The physicians respect us and our decision making process. They allow us to carry out our own plan of care and trust our clinical judgment. I have heard that many groups do not have similar work cultures. There’s a lot to be said for independence and your supervisor having confidence in your abilities.
Along with this, the group I work with gives a lot of autonomy and allows CRNAs to work in challenging environments. It will be a good foundation for the rest of my career. I won’t be intimidated to apply for other opportunities in the future if I eventually decide to move on. The group offers adequate support through these challenges by employing very experienced CRNAs on the team who can offer help when I need it.
Finally, the position has a unique set-up. In my job, I will rotate through different types of clinical and operative settings. Gaining experience with everything from open heart surgeries, to liver transplants and OB procedures makes me more desirable as a CRNA in the future. It will allow me to continue to explore my interests without leaving me pigeon-holed early in my career.
What activities/qualities do you think led to your offer?
I made an effort to excel in my clinical rotations and maintained a good balance of being professional and personable which I’m confident led to my offer. It made me stand out among other students. There are many students in my program with great grades and clinical skills but they didn’t leave an impression or make a personal connection with their preceptors.
Be professional in your clinical placements and remember that every day is a job interview. For example, I didn’t text during long cases even when my precepting CRNA was doing personal tasks on her computer throughout. I made small sacrifices like showing up early or staying late which led to a bigger reward in the end.
Do you hope to receive a job offer from your clinical site? How do you plan to achieve this?
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