How To Become A Nurse Anesthetist
Updated: Nov 19, 2018
Becoming a nurse is a journey, becoming a nurse anesthetist is an even longer and harder journey. There are some things that you will need to understand about the CRNA role in the hospital before you throw in everything you have to become something that you won't enjoy. The journey to become a CRNA is long, but if you know that being a nurse anesthetist is what you want to do, then go for it. Your career as a nurse will be bitter sweet if you know that you can accomplish more by going on and graduating as a nurse anesthetist. Here are three ways to help you become a nurse anesthetist.
#1. Know what a nurse anesthetist does.
Do not be discouraged if this is you, but a large amount of nursing students, or college students who are wanting to get into nursing school say that they want to become nurse anesthetists. There is nothing wrong with this. If you have a goal in mind, with something you are passionate about, then by all means tell everybody that you want to be a CRNA. The problem is that if you ask these students questions about CRNA's, you might find that they can't really explain the daily role of a CRNA. They can't tell you the details of the stress and politics about the career. The students can't explain most anything about being a CRNA, except when you ask how much nurse anesthetists make, they might tell you in detail how much CRNA's make in each state!
If making money is the only reason you want to be a CRNA, you need to do more research and understand what CRNA's do while at work. If you can, shadow a nurse anesthetist, or at least see if you can talk with some before you apply to nursing school with the intention of being a CRNA. Going through nursing school, just to become a CRNA might waste your time if you find that you hate what CRNA's do.
If your purpose of becoming a CRNA is to make money faster than going to medical school, you will find that you really aren't saving much time. To become a CRNA you need to have a bachelors in nursing. Before you can apply to a CRNA program you will need at least one year of ICU, or other approved intensive care experience. After this is done you can apply for CRNA school. While there are still two year masters programs available, a lot of schools have transitioned into a three year doctorate program.
If you add up the years of school, if you are lucky, and get it done without any breaks, you can become a CRNA in eight years. The problem is that in reality, it might take longer to get your BSN. You also might not be able to get into an ICU as a new grad. If you have to work on a med surge floor for a year before landing a job in the ICU, this will add on another year of life before making your hundreds of thousands as a CRNA. There might also be a waiting time before you start your CRNA program, possibly up to a year.
So when you add up the years in real life time, it might be just as long to become a CRNA vs an MD or DO. The difference is that you will have years away from school where you can live life a little bit before hitting the grind of CRNA school.
CRNA's have an interesting job, one that is filled with autonomy and authority. For the people that understand what the job of a nurse anesthetist is, they will have a good understanding of how they will perform in the job before going through a CRNA program. If you can understand what a CRNA does, and you know that this is what you want, then your decision of whether or not to become a CRNA is over. The question now is how to you become a CRNA.
#2. Hit each mile stone with fire.
As explained above there is a long process to becoming a CRNA. There will be many mile stones to pass on your long journey to practice anesthesia. With each mile stone, whether it is your TEAS or HESI exam, your first med surge exam, your BSN, first job as an RN, work your butt off in each step! The admissions process is competitive for CRNA students. Each school has a limited amount of seats, and if you have not performed well for years of intense grinding and fighting through nursing school and work as an RN, you will have trouble getting accepted to a program.
First step, get into nursing school. When you need to take the TEAS or HESI, study hard and don't just shoot for the bare minimum requirement to get into the program. Shoot has high as possible and study hard. Step two, graduate from nursing school with honors. In each class work hard for every A. Don't just hope that you will get straight A's in nursing school, make it happen. Study study study, year after year without giving up, and graduate knowing you gave it your all. Step three, work like crazy as an RN. Don't just show up to work and tell everybody you are going to be an advanced practice nurse someday, make your coworkers tell you that you deserve to go on and become a CRNA. Be friendly, be helpful, ask your coworkers what you can do to be a better nurse, and listen to them. Get your ICU job and become as proficient as possible. When you have worked hard in these areas your next move is to apply to CRNA school.
#3. Apply to CRNA school.
The application process for CRNA school is a tiring process. Different schools throughout America have different requirements. Find the schools that you would like to apply to and read their admissions requirements long before you plan on applying. Some steps of the application can be time consuming, and if you procrastinate and miss a step, the amount of time before you can start CRNA school can cost you thousands of dollars in potential income.
When applying, you will be asked for letters of recommendation. If you have been rocking it at work, then this should not be a hard task for you. If you don't have many good resources, start to make better connections with people that will be able to put a good word in for you when it comes time to apply.
If you have an emotional connection with a nurse educator, or administrator, and they have an emotional connection with you, they will want to write the best letter possible to see you succeed. If you just ask your employer who really doesn't know who you are, the letter will not have as much depth and meaning.
Remember that CRNA school is intense, competitive, and time consuming. The schooling is hard, and the job itself is possibly even harder, but the life of a CRNA is great if you love what you do. To become a CRNA, remember to research as much as you possibly can to make sure that being a CRNA is the only job you can see yourself doing. If you know that being a CRNA is what you want to do, then you will work like crazy to be an overachiever in every milestone towards the application. From there, work hard and get certified and be a great nurse anesthetist.
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