I’m really excited to say that I got into the University of Michigan-Flint / Hurley Medical Center Nurse Anesthesia Program. I am proud of my accomplishments and thankful for everyone who has encouraged me and helped me along the way.
I’m inspired to write about my journey — past, present, and future — by other blogs about Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) schools (such as http://studentcrna.blogspot.com/ and http://lifectent.blogspot.com/) and the Umich Med School blog written by multiple students. My hope is to give insight into this career path and encourage those who may be interested too.
Like many others, I have varied interests, but healthcare was always in the forefront of my mind. I grew up knowing that I wanted to heal the sick and that I wanted my presence to truly make a difference in people’s life everyday.
I first went for a biology degree for pre-med. But unfortunately, as I started to explore medicine as a career, I was put off by it. Sure, a lot of friends continued on and I’m proud of them. Some decided that it wasn’t for them either. I started to explore other healthcare fields. I found my place in nursing. I was most excited when I found out about the accelerated nursing programs because it truly changed my life. Before I finished my biology degree, I took several prerequisites for nursing schools that I was interested in (because unfortunately they all differ).
After I graduated from nursing school, I knew that I wanted to go to graduate school. I took a couple of graduate courses through NYU’s dual degree program while I was working on telemetry. I was interested in nearly all the graduate nursing fields — nurse practitioner (acute, primary, pediatric, family), nursing informatics, nursing administration, and nurse anesthesia. But it wasn’t until I entered the intensive care unit before I started to really take my preparation seriously. At this point, I debated becoming a primary NP or going into nursing informatics or nurse anesthesia.
I already saw what a difference nurse practitioners do but I didn’t know if I really had it in me to do anesthesia. Life in my hands– day in and out. But I met a few UM alumni who told me that I would do a great job. I shadowed them over the summer, and saw their autonomy and teamwork abilities. I had almost all of the credentials to apply and their encouragement made me believe in myself.
I started my process of looking into schools to apply.
- Where is it located?
- Do I meet the requirements? If not, which ones are still missing?
- Is there an information sessions to learn more about the program?
- When is the due date? When does it start? How much does it cost?
I started attending information sessions in July. I went to UM-Flint information session in October. My advice is to bring transcripts. This kills two birds with one stone — (1) an opportunity to speak to the head of admissions and (2) to find out if your prerequisites meet the school’s standard. Learn how the school chooses students. Some may emphasize that three years of critical care experience is essential and any ‘outside of work’ experience is crucial. Others say that ‘you may pass all of the didactic courses but if you fail the clinical aspect, then you’re not cut out for CRNA.’ While that’s true, when I hear that comment, I feel that the school is more hostile rather than helpful. Just as you’re interested in becoming a CRNA, it is important to learn more about the school’s culture.
At the University of Michigan-Flint, admissions is based on a points system (as are many schools). For the application, objective data such as the science GPA, overall GPA, and GRE score is scored. Thankfully, I was able to submit majority of the application before tackling the admissions essay. In the essay, it is crucial to answer every question in detail. And while the CCRN is not required, it is highly recommended to take it. It shows that you take your education seriously and it helps you prepare for the interview.
At UM-Flint, there are 2 due dates: Early (10/1) and Regular (2/1). I submitted my full application a week before the due date. There was a website to check if all of your required paperwork is submitted and which ones were not completed (I loved this!). The admissions team was easy to work with and answered all my questions. Sometime during the first week of February, I was offered an interview for either February 19 or 20. I picked Friday the 20th. I made some work schedule changes and booked a flight back home. The 3 part interview (exam, panel interview, and OR with CRNA) is also based on a point system– 10 points for each section. The purpose of this is to make admissions as fair as possible (rather than getting in because you know someone on the admissions board).
- The exam is composed of multiple choice, fill in the blank, and essay comprising mostly of CCRN and ACLS material. Apparently, I have to work on the cardiac section.
- The interview is a panel interview asking typical questions as well as some ethical questions. I highly recommend practicing saying them out loud. I recommend getting the All CRNA School Guide, going over common questions.
- The OR time with a CRNA is comprises of short clinical questions on what you’d do in certain situations.
When I walked in, I saw that I was the last person to be interviewed. After the 3 hour interview window, I was driving back home and got the call. I was shocked that they had reached their decisions so quickly, especially since I was expecting to hear back a week or two after the interview. It may be because they’ve already interviewed everyone and scored them on a points system already and they simply picked people starting from the highest marks going down the list. But regardless, I was definitely excited.
Of course, getting in sparked another list of questions to solve. That’s what I’ve been working on since then.
- Where will I live?
- Who will I tell?
- When is my end date at work?
- How will I end my lease?
- How will I manage my relationship with my sister and boyfriend?
- Will my boyfriend stay here or move back with me?
- My car lease is almost up. Should I lease or buy another car considering the number of miles I will potentially drive?
- Taxes need to be completed. FAFSA needs to be completed. In-state or out-of-state residency needs to be determined.
I also looked up all the clinical sites and put them on Google Maps.
It’s about a nice 1 hour radius circumference from Flint, Michigan. As of right now, I’m planning to stay at home in Ann Arbor but for clinical that is more than 1 hour away, I’ll stay closer.
As for my boyfriend, he will stay in NYC. He’s doing well with his career here. And we’ve had a long distance relationship before back when we were swapped — when he was at the University of Michigan studying economics and I was in NYC. How ironic.
As for cars, lately I’ve leased Honda Civics because they are less expensive and reliable. But it is true — I really should support American Car Companies (Ford, GM, Chrysler). I plan on going to the New York Auto Show in April and hopefully I’ll get a better idea of what car I should buy.
As for saving money for tuition, I’ve been working an extra shift about every other week. Thankfully I’ve saved a bit already in my retirement funds, which can be used for higher education (I need to look into this more).
As for the order in which I told people, I first told my closest friends not from work. Then after the official letter came in, I told my nurse manager (who is really supportive!!). After that, I put it on Facebook. Prior to applying, I didn’t make it well-known that I was interested in nurse anesthesia partly because I wasn’t sure of the reactions I would receive and I’d rather just leave that part off the table. However, since getting in, I’ve received positive feedback. I think that for the most part nurses are kind and encouraging but I guess you never know.
That’s it for now.