There are a lot of benefits to becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist or CRNA. This journey can take some time and it is sometimes hard to know which direction you should take.
From the moment you decide that this is the right career choice that you want, there are different steps that you can take to make sure that you are able to get into CRNA school so you can become a nursing professional. These steps include:
Graduate from a BSN Program
It does not matter the method that you use to obtain your BSN, but you do need to be careful about any programs that offer pass/fail options. These will harm your GPA and can make it harder for you to get into CRNA school.
Your GPA will matter quite a bit when going to CRNA school. Your ADN GPA is going to be more important than your BSN GPA. The reason for this is that the ADN is going to help demonstrate how well you can do with your core sciences. If you get a lower score on the ADN and a higher one in the BSN, it is still possible to fail your interview.
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Get Experience as an RN
Before you apply to a CRNA school, it is a good idea to accumulate a minimum of 3 to 5 years as an RN to be competitive. A level 1 adult ICU is the best if possible, but if you live in an area where this is not possible, you can still be competitive with a level 2. Some schools will accept ER/PICU/NICU care, but these are harder to find.
While lots of schools are going to only require 1 to 2 years of ICU experience, you will find that you can be more competitive if you have more than the minimum. If you have more than 5 years, take a few graduate level courses to help show that you are academically ready to be a student once more. Experience is one of the biggest factors in determining CRNA salary.
Get Involved in Your Community
Your goal during the few years before applying to CRNA school is to get involved in the community and seek out some learning opportunities. You can start this by getting the necessary certifications. The CCRN is a minimum option to choose, but go for others if they pertain to their field.
There are other options that you can choose as well. You should consider becoming involved in a leadership committee, precept students, volunteer, or see whether you can work on a research project too. You may find that this experience will help you get ahead with your application.
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You should take every chance that you can get to job shadow those around you. The most competitive CRNA candidate on average will spend 40 hours or more shadowing others to learn. Even if the school only recommends this, it is still a good thing to give you a competitive edge.
Some programs will turn away a qualified candidate because they did not take the time shadowing a CRNA. They have to find ways to cut down on candidates, and this is one of the ways that they will do it. They want to see that you have thought through your decision to be a CRNA and you are ready.
You can start with your current hospital of employment, but if that is not an option, you will then need to reach out to local hospitals or surgery centers. If you are still stuck on finding experience for this, then you can call your chosen program to see whether they have a recommendation.
Take the GRE/CCRN
Many CRNA schools are going to ask their candidates to take one or the other, and some will even require both. If the schools say that they need the GRE, but they do not provide you with a benchmark score, know that to be competitive, you will need a minimum of 300 and a 3.5-4 on the writing.
There are some schools that will state you only need a 290 to 300 on the GRE. This is the equivalent of having a 3.0 GPA before they will accept you. This just gets you started in being competitive, so it is best if you are able to get higher. Study hard because this can really give you an edge over the others.
It is not uncommon for schools to not look at CCRN scores, but there are some that will and having that score to show off can be helpful. It never hurts to find out whether the CRNA school will use this as well. A high score on that test will help give you an advantage along the way.
Your GPA will be important along with the GRE score. If you have a GPA that is 3.4 or lower, then the GRE may be usable to help the admission committee look past this shortcoming. It is even possible that some schools will require a GRE from the students with a lower GPA. Having a high GPA and a good GRE score can help.
Prepare for the Interview
You have the right test scores, the right grades, and the right work experience. Now it is time to go through the interview. These interviews will cover a wide variety of topics. Some will focus on personal questions and others will hit more into pathophys/Pharm. Some do both along with a CCRN style test as well.
You may find that networking and attending open houses can be useful here. It will give you a chance to ask current students about the interview while also talking with the program director and learning more about your chosen program.
Choosing to Become a CRNA
There are many benefits to choosing a career as a CRNA. But before you can do that, you need to be able to get into CRNA school. These schools are hard to get into and only a few applicants can get through. By following some of the steps above, you can finally get into the CRNA school of your choice.