I recently received an email regarding low GPAs (as defined by anything less than 3.0) and what can be done about it, especially if you’re interested in heading back for an accelerated BSN degree or graduate school. After a little research and discussion I found out a few things that I thought may be helpful to share.
If you already have a BSN degree and you have a low GPA, then there are a couple of options you can take. These may or may not count towards the undergraduate GPA, but it will demonstrate to the admissions board your dedication, motivation, determination and persistence.
Apply and get enrolled into a MSN program that doesn’t require stellar GPAs and that allows you to go part-time. Take core classes that could transfer to your dream school and ace those classes.
Many hospitals offer compensation for nursing credits so be sure to take them up on the offer. Get to know the details of the offer. At my hospital, only those working night shift can get it and then must work 1 year after they have taken the class. They must get a certain grade. Other hospitals may have requirements of you working for the hospital for an ‘x’ number of years.
I hoped that helped! Let me know if there’s anything different that you’ve done.
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.
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.
On Thursday, March 19, was National Certified Nurses Day. At work, it was nice to get that acknowledgement (again!). The AACN ambassadors put together little bags for all those who are certified as a CCRN. In the bag, there were a couple of AACN and CCRN pens, pins, and chocolate.
My hope is that once you’ve been in practice long enough to get certified, go for it. It just gives you that additional “oomph” and confidence.
You’re probably coming across this page because you’re interested in blogging, or writing your experiences, as a nurse.
Blogging is a great way to:
Reflect on the day you had and how you can do better
Share your experiences with other nurses
Personally, I feel compelled to write about my experience because I get really drawn into other people’s blogs when they describe their story and figured others feel the same way. However, many times people remain anonymous about themselves, the school they’ve gone to, and their workplace. They often do things for a few reasons:
Fear of attention
Fear of consequences
Horror stories of nurses getting fired for breach in privacy and confidentiality
Of course, I don’t want repercussions for displaying the wrong information. Before I started writing, I did some searches on social media guidelines, but a lot of them are not specific. To shorten the mumble jumble, I’ve consolidated the pages of guidelines to 3 things.
Comply with HIPPA. Don’t use any identifiable information such as a name, specific age, race, specific health condition, specific surgery, address, room number, family members, specific doctors, etc. One way to overcome this barrier is to switch names or if you’ve had similar patients, merge experiences you’ve had together.
No pictures with patients or the hospital without written consent. Don’t take any pictures and don’t post them anywhere unless you have received permission. Even if you have received permission, it is best to show something in the positive light.
Be positive. Writing negative things about specific people such as patients and coworkers is really easy to do (it’s hard not to complain). However, whatever you write will stay on the internet forever, even if you delete the information later on. It is better to deal with negative things with people one on one. While it is true that things don’t change unless you bring up what is ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’, it does not mean complaining about it on the net is any better.
So what are topics that you can discuss?
One way to discuss something negative though is to discuss an issue or a problem, and suggest ways to abolish the problem or improve a system. There are many issues that need solutions. That is how we improve healthcare!
Your conversations with patients and family, and the healthcare team.
What you learned from a situation.
Connecting what you see in the field, what you read in textbooks and journals, and what theories apply.
So I’ve been thinking about having my own domain for awhile now and I finally took the plunge (mostly because I make enough now compared to being a poor student). Since I have some time now, I decided to go for it. It seems that a lot of people know my blog as lifewithjess.wordpress.com and type into Google “Life of Jess” or “Jess nurse” or “NYU jess nurse” or something similar to that. To make it easier to remember, I changed the name to NurseJess.com.
I don’t usually post my blog posts on my Facebook but I accidentally did. One of my coworkers saw it and told me that he liked it! Anyways, I always appreciate good comments.
I hope to continue to write posts about nursing that will interest you. Thanks for reading and coming back again and again.
Update: ever since I switched over, I noticed that some links don’t work so I can currently working on that so you don’t keep getting broken links. Each day I’m off I’ll comb through the posts to connect them to the correct post. Thanks for your support!
Fortunately so far I was usually home when a storm hits. But not this time. On Sunday, the news started to spread that there was going to be 20-30 inches of snow across NYC and Long Island from Monday until Tuesday midnight. And I was scheduled for both Monday and Tuesday.
So I got myself ready… Just in case I was going to stay over. Another pair of scrubs, toothbrush, toothpaste, other toiletries, and pajamas.
I went to work Monday. Watching the news, I saw the weather get worse. I probably would make it home but my small car probably wouldn’t be able to make it back to work. My nurse manager asked if I was going to stay. I said yes– I just need a sleeping area. She said she would arrange one, don’t worry.
After work, I went to the cafeteria. They were nice enough to give out sandwiches, cookies and water for those staying over. Many of my coworkers came in early the night before. Dedication!
I went back to my car to drop off my lunch supplies and pick up my bags. I was considering sleeping in the car but by the time I got to my car, I thought it was way too cold. I headed back inside.
When I was working the night shift, we put sleeping mats in the shower because we didn’t have anywhere else to store them. I thought that the shower was pretty useless and nobody was ever going to use it. Funny how I ended up using it that night. I just wish I brought my sandals!
I slept on a mat in the conference room. It wasn’t too bad, except that the ground was hard so I had to reposition myself every few minutes haha. I put my phone on airplane mode to conserve battery.
It was actually kinda nice not to have to travel to and from work. Extra sleep time. It was nice to wake up and find out that four other nurses also stayed overnight. One patient care assistant (PCA) worked the 3-11, slept, then 7am-3pm. Another PCA did 11pm and ended at noon. Another one did 3pm-7am. Thank goodness for them!!
They offered a $2.50 credit for breakfast. So that was nice.
But we started with 7 nurses when we usually work with 10 so it was a rough start to the morning. Most of us started with a triple! As the morning came, two more nurses came in so it felt a lot better.
Anyways I am glad that there was a mandate for no cars on the roads overnight so the trucks could plow most of the snow away. And I am glad that I didn’t have to drive through bad weather by staying inside.
We don’t have mandatory overnight stays so we don’t get paid to sleepover. I believe that at some other hospitals that in a state of emergency that they do this to keep enough staff on duty. Do you think that nurses should get paid to sleep overnight or during the day or that it’s a waste of money to do so? Or does short staffing cause unsafe patient situations? What is more important?
It’s really tough to decide the best course of action for someone who is dying, especially in our society where life, any sign of life, is prized, and not necessarily the quality of life. It’s truly difficult to make a decision for someone’s life especially if you love them.
But the better question is, would you want to live in that fashion?
Talk about death decisions with your loved ones so they know what to do in case something happens. This will save time and grief among the family and friends. The health care proxy doesn’t have to be guilted into making that hard decision that no one is willing to make.
As for organ donation, if someone willingly signed up to be an organ donor, I would assume any organ is ok as long as it’s usable and that I don’t look completely mutilated after the process. I mean, in the end an organ is an organ. If it can help save another life and I’m already dead, why not help out someone else?
I passed the CCRN last week! Yay!!! The CCRN is a certification exam for critical care nurses. It basically verifies your knowledge about critical care concepts after working 1750 hours in the last two years. The benefit of getting the CCRN means getting a pay raise or a bonus. Or intellectually, it solidifies your basics. But if you’re reading this, you probably already know that. You have the more important question — how do I pass the CCRN?
Before I studied, I also searched the internet for the best way to study for this difficult exam. There were two things that stood out to me.
I got all of the material from a friend, from another friend.
I listened to all of the videos and wrote down notes the first time around so I wouldn’t have to listen to it again. It meant I had to pause the video sometimes to write notes. There were 6 videos about 2 hours long. So roughly 12 hours. I did 2 videos each week while working full time. It took 3 weeks to complete.
Then I did all of the questions from Pass CCRN. Don’t read the book. Doing the questions will inadvertently make you go through the important concepts and details. I gave myself the goal to complete either a complete section (for shorter, easier sections) or a certain number of questions each day. Cardiac (20%), pulmonary (18%), and ethical (20%) are the most heavily weighted sections. For the cardiac and pulmonary sections, it initially took me about 2-3 hours to complete 30 questions because I would read the rationale and write a flashcard for the material. There are over 300 questions on cardiac alone, and there’s a good reason for it.
I felt the most important things about cardiac are:
The different medications (pressors, vasodilators, diuretics, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors, ARBs), how it works, side effects, and how it affects afterload, preload, and contractility (which comprises of stroke volume (SV)).
How does SV and heart rate (HR) affect cardiac output (CO)?
In different disease states, what is lacking, and what do you need to fix the problem?
How does the intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) help? Complications?
What does the pulmonary artery measure, what do those values mean, and what do you do when you see a value out of wack? What are physical assessments would you find?
What are the different types of murmurs, where do you listen, what typically causes stenosis vs regurgitation?
Different types of chest pain, MI.
12 lead EKG — this took some time for me since at work it’s only required to know how to read a lead II EKG. But since I started studying, I’d look at 12 lead EKGs at work and it’s kinda fun.
ABG interpretation (compensated vs uncompensated; what would breathing too fast or too slow cause? How would you treat different values?)
Ventilator settings – which ones affect respiratory rate? What does PEEP do? How does that relate to the V/Q ratio?
As I did the questions, I used a flashcard program called Anki. It’s a fantastic memorization tool using the concept of spaced repetition. And the best part is that it’s free to download on the computer or laptop and to use over the internet. It’s $25 to download on your iPhone or Android but it’s worth it.
Basically, I did the questions on one side of the screen, and had Anki opened on the other side. Anything I didn’t know or wanted to review, I either copy and pasted questions or answers, or paraphrased the concepts. It’s easy to put too many things to memorize on one card and that’s the last thing you want to do. When you’re reviewing the card, you don’t want to think, “oh I got half of the card correct… so do I choose that I got it right or wrong?” You want to be decisive and pick whether or not you got it correct.
I have the flashcards that I created for the CCRN that is easy for you to download, although you should probably create your own or edit mine to make it easier for you. Updated December 16, 2016: these flashcards can only be used with Anki on a computer or phone. If you are thinking about downloading the flashcards, please download Anki first and make an account. Also, please do not download these flashcards unless you will use them right away.
Updated August 3, 2015: I’ve given the CCRN Flashcards to many people who have used them and passed the CCRN. Since it is time consuming for me to email everyone who asks and I’ll have no income for the next two years while I’m in school, I’ve decided to sell them to help me pay for food during school. People have said that it’s worth $50 but I won’t charge that much for it, especially since I really want you, as my reader, to pass!
And good luck in your endeavor.
Just 89 out of 150 questions to pass. So you can do it! 25 are for research. Only 125 actually count. You have up to 3 hours to take the exam.
The exam is $225 if you’re a member of AACN. You’ll go to goamp.com to see the test sites and register for the exam. You’ll get 3 months to take the exam. Once you pick, you can change the test date once for free. Majority of the test sites are in the HR Block. How nice of them!
I took mine in Astoria, NY. I was the only one and it was quiet. Good experience.