So you might be like many people and wonder when you're actually going to be ready or rather feel ready to apply to CRNA School. And the answer might shock you. You might never truly feel ready. However here are some signs that you can consider to see if you are actually ready to apply.
So the first sign that you're ready to apply to CRNA school is that you truly understand the pathophysiology and pharmacology of your patients in the ICU. Now I'm not saying that every single diagnosis that walks through the door you need to understand deeply and thoroughly, but the big categories of patients that you get on your unit you should understand. For example, the pathophysiology behind sepsis, heart failure, liver failure, increased icp, liver failure. If you are feeling comfortable taking care of the sickest patients that walk through your door, you are ready. Now for some people this might be a year, for some people this might be 3 years. Do not put the pressure on yourself to apply to CRNA school after a year. Yes, people do apply and get in with just one year of ICU experience, but the majority of people have two to five years of ICU experience. This gives you plenty of time to really feel confident in the care that you provide and really get a good understanding of the different pathophysiology that walk through your door. It also gives you a generous amount of time to get involved in your unit in a leadership capacity as well as really do well in the science classes that you are probably going to be taking.
The second way that you know you're ready to apply to CRNA school is that you are feeling the itch for more. We all are familiar with that nagging feeling inside of us that tells us we are ready for the next step. So if you are feeling totally content where you are at in the ICU but know that one day you probably want to apply to CRNA school that's totally a fine place to be. You do not need to be comparing yourself to your other colleagues who are trying to rush off to CRNA school. There is no pressure. You are going to be completely unhappy if you start something before you are emotionally ready. So you definitely want to make sure you are enjoying life before you enter probably the hardest three years of your life.
I remember when I wanted to apply to CRNA school, I had about a year and a half of ICU experience and I was feeling pretty sad being in the ICU. Truthfully, I had a hard time dealing with the fact that patients rarely ever left the high acuity MICU. Some people are truthfully better at compartmentalizing, but for me I found it very difficult to separate myself from the tragic things that happened during the day. So for me that feeling of being ready for the next step really came rooted from the fact that I knew I couldn't be in the ICU forever.
Alright, third way that you know that you are ready to apply to CRNA school is that you feel very confident in your skills. And how do you know that you are confident in your skills? That is going to be the fact that you are being viewed on your unit as a leader, as a resource nurse, as a preceptor or as a charge nurse. Are you leading initiatives? Are you onboarding new staff to certain protocols or devices? Are you known in your unit for being the go-to for something in particular? When you get to the point in your career that you are able to teach other people a skill or procedure, that is a huge sign that you are ready for CRNA school.
One of the biggest most valuable characteristics that you can have as a student, and even as a CRNA, is the ability to verbally communicate effectively. If you are precepting or teaching other nurses on your unit that is going to hone your communication skills, that is going to hone your leadership skills, because you are truly going to be able to communicate clearly and effectively in times of very high stress. That is exactly what CRNAs do every single day. We are remaining calm and communicating very clearly with the surgeon and with the circulating nurse and with the scrub tech on exactly what is happening, and what we need from the entire team to come to a solution. So if you find yourself in a position where you are teaching people and leading people in your ICU, whether or not that is a formal position or not, that means you are ready to take the next step in your career.
So overall, if you understand the pathophysiology and pharmacology of your patients in the ICU, if you feel the itch for more, and if you are a teacher and leader on your unit (and of course if you meet all the requirements) you should feel confident in moving forward to apply to CRNA school.
If you haven't already checked out our free Workshop Getting into CRNA School 101, it's a great place to get a really high level overview on everything you need to do to truly be ready to apply to CRNA school so use that as a double check against yourself to make sure you're not missing anything and if you're not then absolutely go ahead and apply the worst case is you learn something, right?
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