For Registered Nurses looking for an advanced nursing specialty, a program training Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) is becoming a more and more popular choice because of the many work benefits including a high starting salary. While there are many graduate schools offering CRNA programs, they are usually highly selective, with an average admittance rate of between 10 percent and 50 percent. Besides fulfilling the admission requirements, which usually include holding a BA in nursing, having an unrestricted Registered Nurse's license and having ACLS and PALS certification, there are some things that will increase your chances of getting into a CRNA program.
Get your undergrad grades up, especially in science classes. You will need to have a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 to even be considered, so the higher the better.
Take extra classes in order to get your GPA up if you think it is too low. Talk to a school counselor about which classes will help you to get a better GPA. Aim for classes that truly interest you and that relate to the professional world.
Retake any core or science classes that you did poorly in.
Take a graduate level science course or do some graduate nursing research to demonstrate your dedication and academic ability.
Study for and take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Take as many practice tests as possible, use preparation material and take a GRE preparation course. The more practice you have, the better equipped you will be for the test.
Gain intensive care unit experience. Most programs require at least a year's experience, so the more the better. The experience must be recent.
Shadow, intern or interview with a CRNA in order to get more of a feel for the profession and to demonstrate good initiative. Shadowing for at least 40 hours will give you valuable insight into the profession, which will look good on your resume and help you prepare for your essay and your interview.
Work on your admissions essay, which should highlight your reasons for wanting to become a CRNA, your broad experience, especially in the intensive care unit, your academic dedication and record, and your professional and emotional maturity.
Prepare for your interview, which you will have once you have passed the prerequisites program. Reflect on your specific motivations and experiences and practice with someone. Don't forget seemingly taboo subjects such as finances; admissions interviewers will want to make sure that candidates are able to sacrifice 2 to 3 years of their life to an intensive program.
Work on your critical thinking abilities for your interview. Be prepared to answer questions specific to nurse anesthesia that will display your potential ability and integrity.
Select a CRNA program that feels like a good match for you. All programs are different and you will have more of a chance of getting into one that fits your needs and personality. Apply to several different programs that seem like a good fit.
Be confident during your interview about your abilities, your desire to become a CRNA, and your desire to attend the program. Be relaxed and straightforward about past experience. Never belittle yourself, doubt yourself or compare yourself with other candidates. Look at your interviewers as your future collaborators.
Contact the admissions department directly and immediately if you are not accepted into the program; this is to get feedback on how you can improve. Re-applying the following semester might just be enough of a demonstration of dedication to get you in.
- Triple-check your admissions application, resume and essay not only for content but for mistakes.
- Contact the admissions office ahead of time, in person if possible, to get a better feel before your interview.
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