Nurses have administered anesthesia for more than 100 years and nurse anesthetists were the first advanced practice nurses. The Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) is mandating a transition in the level of education required for entry into practice from the master’s degree to the doctoral degree. Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs are required to be no less than 36-months in length and graduates then become eligible to take a national certification examination. When the national certification exam is successfully completed, the individual becomes a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).
Because of the high level of responsibility in providing anesthesia care, the academic and clinical preparation is rigorous. Selecting from a pool of qualified individuals to enter a nurse anesthesia educational program is challenging and highly competitive. Therefore, it is important to be well prepared for an interview.
The following information is a recommended guide when preparing for a successful interview.
- Study the ACLS manual with particular emphasis on:
- Drug therapies and invasive monitoring
- Commonalities and differences between the various vasoactive medications including the pharmacological actions and the specific receptor sites affected
- Invasive technologies, their correct usage and normal values, when appropriate
- To learn more about the practice of nurse anesthesia, read the free, online Journal of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists.
- Prepare for and earn CCRN certification. Continue to review and expand your critical care knowledge, focusing on both breadth and depths of topics, not focusing solely on your clinical area of practice expertise.
As you begin your journey to become a CRNA there are many practical ways you can study for the interview while you are working. For example, ask:
- Why is a particular therapy being prescribed (rationale)? What alternative therapies could be proposed? What are the underlying mechanism(s) of action that should be considered?
- For medication therapies, what side effects should you anticipate and what actions should be taken if these side effects occur?
- Review laboratory values including: why they are used, normal ranges, implications for out of range values, the units of measurement, and factors that can alter these values and affect their validity.
- After a code situation review your BLS, ACLS, PALS, etc. What went right? Were there any deviations from the standard algorithms – what was the rationale for deviation and the outcome?
- What are the hemodynamic parameters frequently monitored, normal ranges, and their unit of measurement? How do these parameters change in response to therapy? How do hemodynamic parameters vary with different disease processes and how does the tolerance for parameters change?
Planning for a Successful Interview. There are many internet tips and books related to interviewing. If you have not interviewed lately you may wish to reference a few of these resources to refine your interview skills and how to present yourself. Pay attention to dressing for the interview and dress as if you are attending a very important and conservative business meeting.
THINKING AHEAD: POINTS FOR CONSIDERATION
- Finances. As a full-time, rigorous, 36-month program, working is not recommended. Many students in anesthesia programs depend on financial aid and loans. A limited number of scholarships will be available. Again, it is important to evaluate your financial situation carefully, so that you will not have to depend upon working while attending a very rigorous anesthesia program.
- Managing Stress. Prepare to concentrate your efforts on working hard while in this 36-month graduate anesthesia program. Try to simplify your life and reduce distractions. Build a support system within your family and others to reduce outside obligations as much as possible. Learn to be flexible and find ways to manage stress effectively. Plan to make your commute to the anesthesia program as short as possible. Commuting in Atlanta can be challenging! Your time will be better spent meeting the requirements of the program.
- Preparing to Study. If you have not taken any course work within the last few years, taking some graduate course work may help you develop the discipline needed to study. If your undergraduate grades are lower, it may demonstrate to the admissions committee your current abilities. Similarly, we encourage students who are accepted to the program to consider taking a few of the core courses prior to the start of the program to allow for a more measured workload in the first few semesters. Once accepted, students are encouraged to speak with the Program Director if interested in this option.
A SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEW
If you are chosen to be admitted to the program you will need to complete the following requirements:
- Provide documentation for required immunizations, titers, and health information required by agencies for clinical placement. All requirements must be current at all times.
- Maintain current BLS, ACLS and PALS certifications.
- Hold an unencumbered Georgia license; If you do not yet hold a Georgia nursing license it is important to immediately apply to the Board as this process may take up to 4 months. The application may be obtained by beginning the online process at this site http://sos.ga.gov/index.php/licensing/online_licensure_applications.
- Pass an independently conducted state and federal criminal background investigation.
- Pass a urine drug screen.
Not Selected for Admission. Due to the highly competitive process of selecting applicants for admission, an interviewee may not be selected for admission. The interview committee may offer suggestions for future preparation to qualified candidates. An additional year of preparation and possibly taking course work in the plan of study prior to formal admission to the anesthesia program may make a significant difference. Note, taking core courses does not guarantee admission in a subsequent interview cycle.
There will be a wait list of additional applicants. Should a selected student decline admission, a student on the waitlist will be offered the position. A wait listed student who is not selected for the cohort for which they interviewed will be required to reapply. Being on the wait list does not guarantee admission for the subsequent year. Applicants will be limited to two interviews.