CRNA 111 | Become A CRNA

Deciding to become a CRNA is not as easy as it sounds. You have to consider a lot of things before diving all in. That is why for some, the initial course of action is to look for a CRNA who they can ask. But is it really necessary to know a CRNA to become CRNA? In this episode, Jenny Finnell answers this very important question to help you avoid biting off more than you can chew. Find out the benefits of having CRNA guide you before and even during and after your journey. Learn the best ways to approach them to maximize their insights and wisdom. If this is not an option available to you, Jenny has other solutions. Join her in this conversation to know how to make your life smoother and less stressful once you start this career path.

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Do You Need To Know A CRNA To Become A CRNA?

Do you need to know a CRNA to become one? We’re going to dive into that in this episode. We are going to talk about whether you need to know a CRNA to become a CRNA. I know many of you are embarking on this journey. Maybe you are unsure where to start. You wish you had someone that you could pick their brain and ask about the career path, what it’s like, and what it took for them to get to that place of success. We’re going to discuss whether it’s necessary for you to know a CRNA to become a CRNA in this episode. If you’re new to the channel, welcome. I’m so excited to have you here. If you’re reading, I appreciate you. Be sure that you subscribe so you don’t miss any other episodes. Let’s go ahead and dive in.

First and foremost, I want you to ask yourself this question, “What is it about wanting to know a CRNA that feels important to you?” That means if you desire to know a CRNA because you’re exploring this career path, why is that? This is going to give you some insight as to why you’re seeking out this resource. Usually, at least what I have found from students who are seeking out these types of resources, it is that you have unanswered questions.

It could be that maybe you’re unsure of what this career path even looks like. That means maybe you’re still trying to decide whether a CRNA is the career path you want to pursue. Before you dive all in and invest time and money in pursuing it, you want to make sure that you’re making the right choice for yourself and your career. Kudos to you because that’s incredibly wise for you to do early on. You would probably be surprised at how many people don’t think that way. They think that this is a great career path and that everyone who could do it should do it. That’s unfortunately not always true, but the vast majority who decide to go on this career path are thrilled and very well-rewarded.

On occasion, you do have a student who pursues this career path and decides after they’re in school that this is not what they thought it was all about. They drop out of school. That’s not a place that you ever want to be in. You waste time, money, and resources to do that. It also decreases an opportunity for someone else who also equally wants to pursue this career path and would’ve loved to have that seat in that program. Seeking out a CRNA connection early on can help solidify whether this is truly the career path for you.

The next reason is that maybe they’re facing a roadblock. I see a lot of students try to seek out resources such as a current CRNA. Maybe they’re experiencing a setback or maybe they’re unsure of whether they’re capable or whether they’re going to get into school. Maybe they don’t think they have the best qualifications. Maybe they don’t think they have the best GPA. Maybe they’re suffering from impostor syndrome. Maybe they’re questioning whether they are capable of being CRNA. They want to talk to someone to see maybe what their journey was like to gauge whether it’s something that they feel like they can achieve.

If that’s also how you feel, I encourage you to ask yourself why you feel that way. You have to pinpoint what about this journey scares you, intimidates you, or makes you feel that you are not capable. That’s where you need to put your focus because that is an area that you need to work on. It could be confidence. It could be fighting impostor syndrome. It could also be that maybe your GPA is not the best.


Find Your Weakness

What I see a lot is that the majority of people pursuing CRNA tend to have an idea of where their weaknesses are. I don’t know why this is. This is human nature. I hand raise that I’m guilty of it, too. It is that sometimes when you know you have something that you’re not looking forward to dealing with, you tend to neglect it or put it on the back burner. You’re like, “I don’t want to do that. It feels icky.” You know it’s going to be a lot of effort and a lot of pain and torture to get there, so you’re like, “Maybe I’ll be okay. I won’t address it.”

Unfortunately, if you take that approach, you could be setting yourself up A) For not finding success or B) For having a lot of setbacks where you have to work backward to go forward. The reason why I’m bringing this all up is that typically, people who seek out connections with a CRNA mentor are trying to address some type of knowledge gap or pain point with becoming a CRNA. Identifying that is key. Instead of approaching a CRNA and saying, “Tell me about your journey or how you became one,” you can have specific questions and understand what it is you need.

I had the privilege and honor to go to the ADCE, which is a faculty conference that the AANA puts on every year. I got to see our students, which is so exciting. You have no idea how much that warmed my heart to see CSPA students who are in CRNA school. Even students that are a part of CRNA School Prep Academy who has not even gained acceptance yet went to this conference. It was so amazing to see them there.

I had a heart-to-heart conversation with some students. They expressed a lot of the typical overwhelm. They were questioning whether they were capable. It was one of the first projects they submitted. They were told they need to do better, and it was crushing for them. They were like, “I’m battling this mental space of where I need to be.” Most people tend not to deal with maybe what they would “consider” their weaknesses until they’re face-to-face with what they have to do.

I’m pointing this out because I truly believe that if you start focusing on what you can improve upon even prior to starting school, you’re going to make your life a lot smoother and hopefully, less stressful once you start that journey. This could be brushing up on certain chemistry topics. This could be working on emotional intelligence. This could be focusing on your writing. There’s a free writing course that I always talk about through Coursera by Stanford. It’s called Writing in the Sciences. I always highly recommend students to do that. It is assessing what it is you feel you need.

I know you’re going to hear 95% of the time from people saying, “Relax. Don’t do anything.” I’m not saying that’s not the case for you if you’re reading. That could very well be what you should do, meaning don’t do anything. However, I encourage those students who think they may need extra help to do the extra things that they feel like they could to support themselves. That is so that when you enter your programs, you are ramped up and ready to go.


The Nurse Anesthesia Resident Boot Camp

The Nurse Anesthesia Resident Boot Camp never existed until 2022. No one ever said, “This is a problem.” Students are binge-watching Khan Academy, trying to learn the Krebs cycle, and trying to read medical stuff and they haven’t even started their programs yet. This is a big problem. It’s unfocused studying. They’re not going to retain the information. It’s not even going to make sense. How can we teach them the basics so that when they start their program, they have a good foundation to lean on or build upon when they start school?”

That is why we built the Nurse Anesthesia Resident Boot Camp. Listen to yourself. If you feel like you need chemistry, physics, intro to anesthesia history, math, writing, and anesthesia concepts, or if you’re hungry to learn about the induction of anesthesia or maintenance or emergence in some clinical aspects, why not help yourself and do those things? The NAR Boot Camp is a great, focused study way to do that.

We also focus a lot on time management, study techniques, and mental wellness. Those are three important areas. I don’t care how good you are at chemistry. If you’re like, “I’m a Chemistry wiz. I’m a Physics whiz. This is going to be no problem,” what about your mental wellness? What about time management? What about study techniques?

This is not nursing school 2.0. It’s a very different beast. I’m not trying to say that to scare or intimidate you. By all means, I’m trying to do the opposite. I’m trying to help you understand that you have to take this knowing that this is going to be something that you’ve never experienced before. I don’t want you to be sucker-punched.

I don’t want you to get punched in the gut and be like, “The wind’s knocked out in me. I wish I would’ve known what I didn’t know now.” I’m trying to give you that friendly, kind, and warmhearted warning that you need to focus on what you could have as a weakness. It might not be chemistry and physics, but it could be mental wellness. It could be time management. It is understanding what your priorities need to be in school.

I was talking to a lot of faculty at this conference. They’ve been in the education space for many years, so they’ve seen different generations come through their program. Generations and cultures shift all the time, but I’m making new students understand the time commitment and how different that’s going to be from what their previous life technically was like.

I’m trying to let them see not watching the clock when you’re in clinical and asking to get out early, how this is going to benefit you, and why would you want to put extra effort into clinical. I’m making them understand why this is important, why this matters to them, and how this is going to benefit them. Sometimes, you see, “This is not benefiting me. I’m not getting anything out of being in this case. I want to go home. I have a hair appointment. I have this. I got to walk my dog,” or whatever it is going on. It’s about shifting that mindset as to why you are here, why this is valuable to you, and what can you get out of it.

If anything else, clinical is a job interview. Ultimately, even if it’s not the best case that you’re doing, maybe it’s a lineup of LMAs and you’re like, “I’ve done 100 LMAs. I don’t need anymore,” this is a job interview. This is showing them how you’re a team player. Your attitude is huge. Looking at the clock and asking to leave early is not usually putting the effort in and showing people that you are dedicated to getting as much out of this experience. I’m not saying stay late all the time. I’m not saying that either. Don’t take me wrong.

There are going to be certain specialties within your anesthesia training where you’re going to have to put in a little bit of extra hard work. The specialties, for example, are open heart, peds, and things like that. Those are your specialties. You only get 1 or sometimes 2 months of training in those specialties. Soak it in as much as you can. That is your time. You want to make sure that when you’re done with school, you feel ready and prepared to be on your own.

You want to make sure that when you're done with school, you feel ready and prepared to be on your own. Click To Tweet


Nurses Teach Nurses: Your Own Cheerleader

I got off topic there, but I’m trying to let you know that ultimately, you do not need to know a CRNA to become a CRNA. That’s the overarching question I want to address. You do not need to know one. However, you need to ask yourself what you think you need if you were to meet a CRNA. What is it about knowing a CRNA that you would want to pick their brain about? Focus on those areas because that’s going to be insightful for you to understand what it is that you can do to help yourself.

While I don’t think you need to know a CRNA to become a CRNA, I highly encourage you to know a CRNA. There’s something about proximity even if it’s not a CRNA. It could be a nurse who’s pursuing CRNA. The reason why this is so important is that this is going to be a journey that’s going to have hills. There are going to be high points, and there are going to be low points. You’re not always going to feel like things are going well.

Having someone else who is equally going through similar experiences, challenges, and setbacks is like having a buddy system and your own built-in cheerleader because you’re both going to be going after the same goal. It ultimately helps you be more successful. If they find a helpful tip, they’ll share it with you. Proximity does matter. It doesn’t have to be a CRNA mentor, but I truly believe you need at least another nurse who’s equally pursuing CRNA that is motivated to accomplish that goal. I do think you need to at least find that at the bare minimum.

The other thing that is incredibly helpful is connecting with current students. I want to say this after an experience and say this in the kindest way possible. Keep in mind that current students are incredibly busy and their time is super limited. Over the last couple of years, we’ve mentored thousands of students inside CRNA School Prep Academy. The beauty of mentorship, why I love it and am so passionate about it is because I’ve seen the ripple effect of mentorship, a domino effect, or however you want to look at it.

You touch one person’s life and they are so grateful that they go on to touch other people’s lives. You create this goodwill within them. They’re like, “I was helped. I was mentored. I accomplished my goal. I’m going to help others, too.” That is because it felt so good. It left such goodwill in their heart and they want to return the favor.

Mentorship is powerful because it creates a culture, a community, and compassion. You’re caring for other humans and trying to support other people in what their goals are. That’s what mentorship is. When you go through CRNA School Prep Academy, you become a mentor and have that mentorship at heart.

A lot of current students are very torn, and I have been there. You want to help but you only have so much time in the day. Before you know it, you help and you have nothing left for you. Your cup is empty and you can’t pour anymore. You’re like, “What do I do? I feel so torn.” I want to put that out there in the world because even though I encourage you to connect with a current student, be aware of how limited their time is.

That’s why I’ve developed Nurses Teach Nurses- now called TeachRN! Their time’s valuable and their time deserves to be compensated if you want a lot of it. I’m sure most of them are willing to give you some connection with them. Ultimately, be respectful because time is valuable for everyone on this earth. That’s the only asset you can never get back. It is your time.

A nurse anesthetist and other healthcare workers in the operating room with a patient
Become A CRNA: Ultimately, be respectful because time is valuable for everyone on this earth. That’s the only asset you can never get back.

If you’re looking for a mentor session with a current student, TeachRN is a great way to do that. You can seek out mentor sessions with students who are going through specific schools. Let’s say it’s Texas Wesleyan. Maybe it’s Duke, Penn, Otterbein, or whatever school it is. You can seek out a mentor session through Nurses Teach Nurses with a current student. That way, you get that time that you so desperately want and would be incredibly beneficial, but you’re rewarding them. You’re saying, “Thank you. I appreciate you. I’m going to reward you for the time you’re spending with me to mentor me on this journey.”

Most of the students that have done this mentorship have emailed me and told me how exciting it was to hear when that person got into school. It’s rewarding when that happens. Having a connection with a current student is key because they were in your shoes. I’d love to say I’m a young buck, but not anymore. I went to CRNA school back in 2012, which is a long time ago.

Even though it’s still fresh in my memory and it still feels like it was yesterday, I can’t even believe it’s been several years that I’ve been a CRNA. It changed a lot. A lot has changed since I went to school. A lot of things are virtual, and that was never the case for me. I commuted to class for 2 hours 1 way 4 or 5 days a week for the duration of my 2-year program for the most part.

Every program’s different, but pretty much even the program I went to has changed a lot. They don’t do that anymore. They don’t have to because a lot of things are virtual. Connect with the current student to see what the day in the life is like and what the expectations are. Also, schools change a lot as far as their standards and maybe the student handbook which has the grading requirements. Maybe you can only get one C. Maybe they allow a C and a B-minus or whatever it is. Everyone has a grading policy, but maybe that’s changed. If I tell you what it was when I went several years ago, who knows what it is now?

Connecting with a current student allows you this insight into what their experience has been like and what the faculty is like. That changes frequently. The faculty may be completely 100% different in ten years. Connect with a current student and see, “How are you supported? What is it like going to school here? What helped you get by if you don’t do well on the test? What are clinicals like? Do you feel like you get a lot of independent experience or a lot of good experiences? Have you been hitting your numbers and things like that?”

Connecting with a current student is valuable. Nurses Teach Nurses is a great way to look for a current student mentor. If you think about it this way and this is the way I see it anyways, in Nurses Teach Nurses, you are investing in other nurses. You are giving back to the community and they’re giving back to you. In my opinion, it’s a win-win. Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself and in another nurse who’s willing to help you. That’s that.


CRNA Shadowing Experience

It’s not because you know a CRNA, especially if they’re a faculty member or someone who knows someone, that it guarantees your CRNA acceptance. However, if you nurture that relationship and build it and they get to know you, and they’re like, “You’re motivated. You’re going the extra mile,” they’re going to feel goodwill to you as well. They may put in a good word for you.

The best good words that go to program directors come unsolicited. What I mean by that is asking a CRNA to put in a good word for you doesn’t mean as much if a CRNA does it because they truly feel that you deserve it. The only way they truly feel that you deserve it is if you show up, get a lot of shadowing experiences, and make that relationship.

It’s about going into something in a relationship without ever expecting anything in return. If you go into a relationship, know that you’re going to pour into someone else, and let them know who you are and why you’re passionate about pursuing this career path, they’re going to take notice. They’re going to feel very connected to you. That’s the best-case scenario. It is to have a CRNA mentor put in a good word for you that’s unsolicited.

The other thing I want to bring up quickly, too, that I had talked to some faculty about was getting a reference letter from someone you barely know doesn’t do you a whole lot of good. It doesn’t hurt you, but you could help yourself more if you took the time to get to know someone a little bit more before you ask them for a reference, specifically a CRNA.

Some programs require a reference from a CRNA. This is hard. I feel your pain. I understand that sometimes, shadowing is not an easy thing to come by. It has been our mission over the last few months to Facebook stalk people and get names. We started making phone calls to hospitals to try to help our students. I was like, “I don’t want to hear an excuse that you can’t shadow a CRNA. There should never be an excuse.”

I get that for some of you, there is a ton of roadblocks. Maybe you’re fearful of shadowing at your own facility, which is unfortunate, but I understand that that’s the case. I’m like, “How can we help?” Ultimately, we’re like, “We’ve got to reach out to CRNAs and find CRNAs in all the states who can take students.” I’m happy to say we only have about ten states left to go. We have connections in almost all the states across the country. It may not be in your city, but it’s important to shadow a CRNA at least in your state.

We’ve had nurses from California come to Ohio, which is crazy that they can’t find any shadowing in California. The reason why this is unfortunate is that if you get your shadowing in Ohio, that’s a huge barrier. How many times are you going to do that? It’s probably one-and-done versus maybe if it’s in your own state. It might be a three-hour drive, but you can do that a few times. Maybe you have a friend or a family that you could even stay with. We’re trying to find people in every state.

The other big issue I see with shadowing in other states is the practice could be very different. State-by-state practice varies. It’s not in a sense that you do different things, but the culture, the environment, and the connection. That means if you shadow in California, you’re more likely to meet a CRNA who knows faculty and other SRNAs in California who could maybe be someone that you can connect with.

I’m not saying don’t come to Ohio. We are happy to have you here. We’re in the heart of it all. That being said, I would love to see students get the experience in their home state because of the connection piece. There are more networking opportunities they would get from that and hopefully, be able to do it more than one time.

We’re embarking on that as we speak. If you’re a CRNA School Prep Academy Student and you need a shadow experience, go over to the resource page and into the school datasheet. We have CRNA shadow connections for you to connect with. We also have students who have agreed to be mentors for you that you can equally connect with on that sheet.

At this point in the game, we’re offering students to do 1 or 2 things. If you’re reading and you’re a student and you want to be a mentor, hit us up and let us know. Email at Hello@CRNASchoolPrepAcademy.com. We’d be happy to direct you on how to do this. If you’re a student, you have a couple of options.

If you decide you want to give your email and you’re okay with reach-outs, then that’s the way we do it. If you want to be a mentor through Nurses Teach Nurses, you can then create a mentor session. You set whatever price you want for your time whether it’s a 30-minute session, a 60-minute session, or whatever you feel would be most beneficial for the students wanting to connect with you.

The beauty of Nurses Teach Nurses, honestly, is it puts limits on your time. The problem with email is you never know. You could get blasted by ten people in one month, and then you’re like, “I can’t get back to all these people. This is too much. I’m busy.” That’s the problem we’re experiencing. It might ebb and flow. Sometimes, you don’t get any reach-outs for months and then all of a sudden, you get slammed. It’s usually around application time. We want to make sure your school’s a priority. We get it. I know what it’s like to be inundated with a lot of questions and reach-outs. It’s hard. You want to help, but you can’t always help because you’re one person.

The Nurses Teach Nurses will allow you to say, “I’m available 3 days a month for 60 minutes each. That’s what my calendar is. That’s all I got. Take it or leave it.” It gives people the opportunity to value their time, which I’m a big fan of. If you’re a student, that’s the opportunity that you have. If you are a CSPA student, know that when you become a student, you have this opportunity to do it, too.

The beauty of Nurses Teach Nurses is maybe you’re using the resources. Many of our students go on to become mentors through Nurses Teach Nurses. It’s that big pretty circle that I talked about where you get to be on the receiving end. You’re the mentor. That’s a fun, full-circle way that I see being a win-win for everyone.

Connecting with a current CRNA and shadowing in your current state is vital. The best way, in my opinion, to meet with a CRNA if you don’t automatically know one through a friend or family is shadowing. You should be shadowing. I don’t personally think you should go to CRNA school until you’ve had at least one shadowing experience. It doesn’t matter where you shadow. It could be a dental clinic. Connect with a CRNA.

A nurse and a doctor speaking with a patient in their hospital room
Become A CRNA: The best way to meet with a CRNA if you don’t automatically know one through a friend or family is shadowing.

I have so many people who are like, “I don’t want to shadow there because I didn’t think it’d be the best experience. It was a colonoscopy clinic and I want to see a hospital.” I’m like, “Get an experience.” Any experience is better than no experience, and schools equally agree with that. I know there might be a lot of roadblocks, but don’t turn down any opportunity you can get.

I equally had CRNAs that we’ve reached out to ask if we could send students their way. They say, “I work at a surgery center.” I’m like, “That’s great. We don’t care.” Any experience is better than none. Even they have that old mindset that you need to be at a level one trauma center to get the best shadow experience. I’m like, “That’s not true. You shouldn’t ever turn down any experience with a CRNA.” That’s enough of my preaching on that.


Going To Conferences

Ultimately, the next thing I want to stress to you is going to conferences. Whether it’s virtual or in-person, conferences are a great way to not only connect with program faculty but meet CRNAs and current students. It’s a gold mine. Speaking of conferences, we have our virtual conference coming up. It’s a two-day conference on July 15th, 2023, and July 16th, 2023. However, on the July 15th day, put it on your calendar because it’s the day that you’re going to be able to connect with different schools.

We are anticipating having twenty programs attend our conference this 2023. It’s a great opportunity to hop around different virtual expo booths, talk to program faculty, and ask some questions. Be a fly on the wall. Listen to other students and ask questions. That’s a huge way that you can learn. You don’t always know what you need to know because you don’t know it. You don’t know you need to know it.

By listening to other students ask questions, you’re like, “That’s a great question. I’m so glad they asked that. I never would’ve thought to ask that, but I needed to know that, too.” That’s the value of going to group sessions. I’m a big firm believer in group coaching for that very reason. You learn from others and it allows us to collaborate. We’re all stronger together.

The conference is on July 15th, 2023. Mark your calendar. If you’re a CRNA School Prep Academy student, grab your ticket now because you’re going to be able to get that early bird special ticket. It’s the same if you’re not a CSPA student. We have an early bird pricing ticket, so make sure you’re grabbing that. It is on July 15th, 2023, and July 16th, 2023. Mark your calendar. Request to go off work if you can, though it will also be recorded and available for two weeks.

It’s virtual, so there’s no cost to attending. In-person is great. There are other opportunities to get in-person conferences, but this one’s nice because you’re going to get the connection not only with current students. We have a networking session where you can get one-on-one FaceTime with current students, but you’re also going to get a faculty Q&A. We’re doing a faculty panel mock interview. We’re doing the autonomic nervous system because who doesn’t want to learn about that? It will be fun.

We’re also doing neurophysiology. We’re doing some education there as well. We’re also doing a lot of faculty Q&A. We did that in 2022 and it was a huge hit. It is so insightful to hear faculty on how their opinions are similar, but they’re also different. We’re doing two of those. We’re also doing faculty panel mock interviews, which will be insightful to see what types of questions they ask and get their feedback from various programs. Check it out. It’s going to be great. Other than that, there’s an expo time where you can jump around to different schools’ virtual rooms and say hi. You can introduce yourself to make that connection.

In-person conferences are another great way, too. I went to the AANA’s ADCE. That’s a faculty conference they hold every February. Unfortunately, there won’t be another one of those until 2024, but at the end of April 2023, there’s another conference in DC. It’s our political one. You’re welcome to go, but make sure you’re planning ahead for that. March 1st, 2023 was the end of the early bird pricing deals. By the time this episode airs, it’s going to be the end of March and early April 2023. It’s not too late to get a ticket. RNs can go. You’re paying the same price. I don’t know of a discount for RNs, but it is incredibly valuable to go.

Go to AANA’s website and look up current events. Maybe you can’t go to the one in April 2023. There is one in August 20023 as well. They do, every year, an annual congress. You can go to that one. Go to those things. You don’t have to go to them all. If it is your application year and you’re applying to CRNA school, attend our virtual conference or go to the AANA conference, or even both. Why not? It’s going to give you more exposure and more connection to the faculty.

It looks impressive when they see a student attend these events because it shows your commitment. It stands out. I’m not saying that you have to. It’s not a requirement. It will never be a requirement, but if you’re looking for something in addition to do to boost your resume, going to conferences, whether that’s a virtual conference or in-person conference, is great.

Two people shaking hands at the front of a conference room with other people seated and clapping
Become A CRNA: It looks impressive when they see a student attend conferences and events because it shows your commitment. It stands out.

Another good one that they do every year passed. It was the end of February 2023. I mentioned it to CSPA students. A lot of our students attended. I was stopped by the Chairman of the Program, Daniel Bell. He’s a CRNA in California. He helps run CANA, which is the California Association of Nurse Anesthesia. He said he was impressed with how many RNs went to that conference. It’s a free conference. They do it every year through CANA.

One of the things we preach all the time inside CRNA School Prep Academy is to connect with your state association. You’d be surprised. There are usually events throughout the year and different ways you can get involved, volunteer, and do different things like that. It never hurts to reach out. Not all states are going to allow RNs to attend their meetings. We hope to change that. I feel like we’re working towards that as a community. It never hurts to ask. All they can tell you is no. That’s the worst-case scenario. You’re like, “I’ll go to the national event.” The national events allow RNs to attend.

Always connect with your state. Why not? If you’re in California, it’s great to be involved. Even if you’re not in California, CANA puts on an event every February. It is called the Nurse Anesthesia Resident. It is a boot camp kind of thing, but it’s more geared toward students who are gearing up to graduate. There are lots of great topics in there that you would equally need to know. Some of it’s about finances. Some of it’s about navigating job searches and different things like that. It’s a free way to connect and learn. Something you should be looking for is opportunities like that. Even if it’s not free, don’t be afraid to invest to go to some of these events because the money’s going to be well-spent.


Understand What You Need

That’s enough preaching on conferences. I hope you guys had some good tips and things to understand as far as how to look at the CRNA journey, what you need, and what you could get out of connecting with either a current student or a CRNA. How do you do those things? The first thing is focusing on what you need and understanding why you need that. What is it about your needs or your situation that requires you to need or want that type of guidance or advice?

You’ve got to assess, “Who am I going to connect with?” It’s then the how, which is going to conferences, being a part of CRNA School Prep Academy, or going to open houses. That is another great one that I don’t think I mentioned. I mention it a lot, usually all the time. Open houses are another great way. Making those connections and shadowing is always great, but understand what you need first. If you go into a relationship and understand what you can bring to the table and also what you hope to get out of the relationship, it allows you to be more direct and get the guidance you need quicker and easier.

It brings me back to the student I was talking to at the ADCE conference. She was like, “I don’t know where to start. I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know what I need and how to ask for it.” I said, “When you go up to someone and say, ‘I need help,’ what is the first thing they’re going to say to you? It’s, ‘With what?’” I wish we had the ability to read minds, but we haven’t quite gotten there yet. We might, but humans don’t know what you need. The only way that a human can know how to help you is for you to know what you need. That’s easier said than done a lot of times. You’re like, “I don’t know what I need.” I get it.

The only way that a human can know how to help you is for you to know what you need. Click To Tweet

I’m in that boat a lot where I’m like, “I don’t know what I don’t know. It’s so frustrating.” That’s when you have to do the work. You have to start digging into figuring that out. That takes effort, work, discovery, and self-awareness. You’re reflecting on what it is you’ve already done, what you could do, what you should do, and what you maybe want to do, and then assessing others around you and what’s working for them.

Understand when you’re looking at others and seeing what’s working for them, equally keep in mind that you’re unique. You shouldn’t be putting yourself down ever for someone else’s journey because your journey will always look different. It’s supposed to be. That’s a great thing. That means you’re a unique person and you have a unique story to tell.

It’s okay to look at others around you who are finding success and see what they’re doing, but keep in mind you will only see the very surface. You will not know deep down what they’ve done to get there. That makes it very hard for us. We see people’s success and don’t realize how hard it was and what they had to do to get there, maybe even the rejections they faced prior, and what other emotional barriers they faced, too.

A lot of us have things that we hide. I want you to take that into consideration when you are playing the comparison game. I wish I could say you wouldn’t do it, but I know you will because we’re all human. We all do it. Keep that in mind when you start trying to compare. Assess the fact that it’s okay if you don’t have everything someone else has.

It’s okay if your journey is going to look different. It’s okay if you don’t have everything or you don’t even want to do everything. I had someone say, “I’ve never had much leadership experience. I don’t necessarily have the desire to join committees. Am I doomed to never be a CRNA?” I’m like, “Absolutely not.” It’s one of those things where you have to ask yourself what it is about leadership that you don’t like.

If I’m being perfectly honest, I was in that boat where I never did much leadership. I didn’t do many things that were leadership-driven. If I look back and reflect on why, it’s because I didn’t feel like I was good enough. I was like, “Who would want to listen to me?” That’s how I felt about myself, which is unfortunate. I carried the weight of always feeling like I was stupid for a very long time.

It’s taken a lot of conscious effort to knock that voice down and keep going forward even though I’m scared or fearful of messing up or saying something stupid. I face that fear every day. The more I face it and the more I’m able to overcome it, the more I’m like, “You can do this. You’re worthy of leadership.” That is the case for so many that maybe say they don’t want to do leadership or they’re not interested.

Leadership‘s one of those things that when you give it a try, it does become addicting because you see the impact you can make. It builds it. It might not start off as very noticeable, what you’re doing and what you can accomplish, but it has a building effect. Eventually, it stacks on top of each other. All the things you can do motivates you to keep going and doing more.

Leadership is one of those things that when you give it a try, it becomes addicting because you see the impact you can make. Click To Tweet

I encourage you to reflect on why. If you say, “I don’t want to join a committee,” why? Maybe it’s the people. I had a nurse saying, “I don’t like the people who run committees in my unit. They’re all backstabbing. They talk about each other.” I’m like, “That is a good reason not to want to be a part of that, but it doesn’t mean that you are not capable of being a leader. There are other ways to be a leader. You can look through the AACN. You don’t have to go through your unit.”

If you have a toxic work environment and that’s not the environment you want to be a part of, I understand. It doesn’t mean that you don’t want to be a leader. It means you don’t want to put yourself in a toxic situation where you feel like you’re not going to be accepted. Looking for other ways to get leadership is then what you would go onto that path to do.

I hope you guys enjoyed this episode. I appreciate you. If you’re not a CSPA student, I hope to see you inside the academy. Remember that we have the Nurse Anesthesia Resident Boot Camp. If you’re getting ready to embark on your CRNA school journey, there has never been a resource out there like this before. We’re going to see a shift in schools liking this type of pre-course curriculum prior to starting school.

Everyone that we’ve talked to is thrilled about it. We handed out 50 flyers to schools that are interested in using the NAR Boot Camp for their incoming cohorts. They see the value in it. They would love to have their students enter their program and not struggle. Not everyone’s going to, but it’s hard to know who those people are.

Thank you for readying and take care. I’ll see you soon.

Important Links

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