(This is a guest post by Jacob Kelton.)
There is a lot of advice and input on the internet about what it takes to get into nurse anesthesia school. I would like to add to this advice from personal experience. First of all many people freak out and put too much emphasis on GPA. I am not saying it is not important but this will not solely get you into a nurse anesthesia program. When you apply to a school you have to remember they are interviewing a lot of applicants. The school I attended interviewed around 800 applicants. You have to be well rounded as a student and a nurse.
1) GPA- lets address this. You have to have a 3.0 or higher in your last 60 hours of school. This is usually nursing for most applicants. Your grades are averaged on a points system by the program. You will have a number of points given based on your science GPA, nursing GPA and overall GPA. This means you have to be well rounded. So yes the A&P from freshman year can bite you in the butt. You can also counter this with a strong nursing GPA; it all depends on the points awarded.
2) Clinical Experience – they want to know if you have the experience and how you think. Most all schools want you to have 2 years of ICU experience at least. Some get in with less but it’s not common. What ICU do you need to work in? Preferably a busy one but emphasis seems to be on Cardiovascular and Surgical. What it is going to boil down to though is when you walk into the room to be interviewed by a group of highly educated nurses and doctors is, do you know your stuff? They want to know how you think. Your clinical experience prepares you for the interview. I attended school with nurses that worked in Medical ICU, Surgical ICU and Cardiovascular ICU, even a couple from a CCU. This told me one thing; they want you to know what you’re doing and be well rounded in your knowledge and are able to critically think during an interview.
3) Tests and certifications – A way to help reassure the interviewers is to obtain your CCRN certification. This is required now for most all schools. Also, I would like to talk about the dreaded GRE. Yes, it sucks and they know this too. The GRE is an elimination tool. It will not make you and it will not necessarily break you. If you score well meaning 1000 or above, it will help you by showing you are a well rounded individual. If you score poorly, which in my opinion is anything 850 or below, it is not going to help you. This does not mean you will not get in if you are otherwise well rounded as an applicant. My advice is to prepare by doing a review course or brushing up before taking this test and do your very best. Do not let it beat you down though.
4) Competition – Finally you have to look at the program you are applying to. Do they except a lot of applicants or not. This is important. If a program only takes 60 applicants but interviews 800 then the competition is fierce and your overall application needs to be strong. If you are applying to a large program who takes 120 or more students, then you make squeak in with a lower GRE or whatever weak point you may have. This is the best advice I can give but there is a lot more to be said whether it be about the interview or the actual program and what to expect. Good luck!!!