CRNA 125 | Best CRNA School Of 2023

Choosing the right CRNA school is not just a decision; it’s a transformative leap toward your dream career. The right choice today lays the foundation for an extraordinary tomorrow. Welcome back to another episode of the CRNA School Prep Academy podcast with your host, Jenny Finnell. Today, Jenny unveils the top 10 CRNA schools of 2023, ranked by the prestigious US News Report. But hold on, because this episode will offer much more than just a list. Jenny kickstarts the episode by exploring how the US News Report assesses and evaluates CRNA programs. After establishing that foundation, she explores the nuances of selecting the ideal CRNA program for you. From curriculum to clinical opportunities, Jenny breaks down the factors to consider in making an informed decision and finding the best CRNA schools for you. As our host wraps up, she shares some exciting announcements in store for all you valued listeners. Join us as we unravel the mysteries behind the top-ranked CRNA schools and find the best program for you!

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Best CRNA Schools Of 2023

How Are The Best CRNA Schools Ranked?

In this episode, we are going to reveal the top ten Best CRNA schools that are ranked by the US News & World Report and go over the different nuances of how to pick your CRNA programs. Before we get started, I want to make sure you’re staying to the end because I have a couple of big things that I want to go over. One being I have some future announcements for the show. Secondly, I want to go over some key factors to consider when picking your CRNA program. We’re going to start this episode off by going over how the US News & World Report ranks CRNA programs. This is key in understanding this aspect prior to even looking at what schools they’re picking.

Don’t worry. We’re going to get into what they picked and go over the top ten schools. Know that depending on what you Google and how you search, you may find a slight variation in what the top-ranked schools are. I went by the US News & World Report ranking because that’s probably the most well-known and probably the one that also most students put a lot of weight on when they’re considering what schools to apply to. There are multiple “Best CRNA Schools” rankings that you can find on the internet. Be cautious and weary on any internet sites that the sources are not always credible. Be cognizant of that when you’re doing your CRNA school research. Let’s go ahead and get into the show.

How does the US News & World Report even rank schools? This was a big question for me because back when I was searching for CRNA schools, that was the last thing in my mind to think about as far as what the rankings were, if I’m being perfectly honest. Some of you may be feeling the same way. You are like, “I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me how they’re ranked. I want to go to CRNA school. As long as they’re accredited, their attrition rate is okay, and the board passing rates are good, that’s all that matters to me.” I want to break down that there’s more than that that you should consider when picking your CRNA programs. I also want to try to clear the air on this US News & World Report ranking system and why that’s not all you should consider, if that’s a big thing for you, and why.

First, what they do, how they pick these, and what goes into it are the keys to understanding how important you should be considering this ranking. First, the thing that stands out to me is how they blanket categories or buckets. They blanket a college and the School of Business, the School of Nursing, or the School of Health Sciences into buckets.

When they’re looking at rankings for programs, they’re putting you in categories based on whatever college that that degree is earned in. It could be the College of Nursing, the College of Health Sciences, etc. They’re putting all these other degrees in these big buckets. They’re not specifically looking at nurse anesthesia. They’re looking at anything in the health sciences category or anything in the college of nursing category. You have multiple degrees within that college and they’re ranking it based on that. Keep that in mind. It still means you need to be more granular when you’re looking at your CRNA programs and saying, “This ranking means everything.” They’re not getting very granular on their rankings. They’re doing a big-picture overview of the college itself.

What do they look for? They look at things like graduation and retention rates. That’s a very big portion of what they score the colleges on. That means how many people enter this College of Nursing or College of Health Sciences, and how many of them graduate? They put you in these big buckets and look at the retention and graduation rates once the students are matriculated.

They also look at undergraduate academic reputation through a peer assessment tool thing. That’s a pretty big portion of what they also rank. Another big portion of what they rank to give you this ranking is faculty resources for the academic year. That means such things as what the class size index is, what the student-to-faculty ratio is, what the faculty compensation is, what the percentage of faculty with a terminal degree is in their field, and then what percentage of faculty are full-time. They look at all of those different components. Schools with more funding, and usually, it is private schools, tend to have more resources for their faculty and probably tend to get ranked higher in that category simply because the funding is better. Keep that in mind.

Other aspects are things like financial resources for the students, graduation rates, performance, and student selectivity such as SAT scores, ACT scores, MCATs, GREs, and things like that. They’re looking at what your board scores are, the caliber of your students as far as their test-taking scores are, and things like that. They also look at other smaller things such as the graduation indebtedness that the students come out of the school with, social mobility, and things of that nature. Those are all the small categories.

The big chunk ones are the graduation and retention rates, the undergraduate academic reputation through peer assessment, and then the faculty resources. Those are the three big ones. The other ones that are smaller are things like financial resources, graduation rate and performance, and student selectivity. Those are smaller categories.

It’s helpful for you to understand where this is coming from when they’re getting ranked; I also know there are schools that don’t even qualify to be ranked because they don’t maybe meet certain accreditation standards. I don’t know what the exact recurrence would be of the accreditation, but I do know it has to do with the nationally or regionally accredited status of that college or that university.

Some colleges don’t even qualify to be ranked, and then some schools don’t even submit data. That means they don’t even submit enough data to even be evaluated. Even if they’re a good college, they don’t submit enough data. Therefore, they’re brushed under the rug like they don’t matter. They didn’t give us enough information, so we can’t even judge them. There are a lot of schools that, in my opinion, are good schools that are not necessarily even considered in ranking for these categories because of those two factors alone. Those are all things to keep in mind.

The Top 10 Best CRNA Schools of 2023

Let’s go ahead and get into what the top CRNA schools are in the US. My goal with this is to break down some of the nuances of these schools. I’m not going to go into as much detail as I would hope you would go into if you’re thoroughly researching these schools, but I want to at least paint a picture and compare and contrast.

For me, when you’re looking granularly at your school, you have to consider a lot of other factors other than the ranking. I want to show you that, honestly, these schools that are ranked very high, when you look at some of these more granular aspects of the programs, don’t seem all that different than other schools that are not ranked at all.

When you're really looking granularly at your school, you have to consider a lot of other factors other than just ranking. Click To Tweet

I want to point out some things that you could differentiate between the schools that would make or break your experience versus the name of the school. I also want to debunk the myth, too, that if you get a degree from a high-caliber school or a highly-ranked school, that means you’re going to get a better job. That’s not true. We’ll go into that at the end.

Rush University

1) Rush University. This is in Chicago, Illinois. They are in the top 10 Best CRNA programs listed for 2023 by the US News & World Report. They’re accredited with a 36-month program. When I searched this briefly on what are the things they looked for and whether they offered online options and things of that nature, this listed no. I always would encourage you to fact-check that because a lot of schools are offering certain types of hybrid options for certain courses.

For the cost per credit hour, they have listed here at $1,286 per credit hour. That’s probably more on the expensive side. Closer to $700 to $1,000 is probably where the more average is, so that’s a little bit on the high end. Certification exam pass rate on the first attempt. What gets confusing when you look at certification pass rates is they’ll have the first attempt and then after the fact, what are the passing rates on the next attempt?

Usually, most of the time, schools on the second attempt always get 100%. On occasion, you’ll see 96% or something like that. That means that one person couldn’t even pass on the 2nd or 3rd attempt. To make things narrower as far as when you’re looking at school programs, look at the first attempt pass rate. To me, that’s the most important one. People who retake a test may be able to do better because maybe they had anxiety the first time, maybe they have some insight on what they’re going to be tested on so they can prepare better, or whatever it may be.

The first-time pass rate is key when you’re evaluating programs because it shows how well-prepared these students are when they go into the test for the first time without knowing what to expect. I’m not saying this always negatively reflects on the program. It sure doesn’t because people can be people. You can’t force people to do things. You can tell them what to do, but you can’t force them to do it. Maybe it’s the student who couldn’t buckle down or maybe it’s not. There’s no way to know exactly why a student didn’t pass on the first attempt.

I’ve shared this story multiple times, but I had a good girlfriend. She was a rock star. She’s an amazing CRNA and has bad test anxiety. It is so much so that she didn’t pass the boards by one point the first time. She went on to pass after the fact. It was completely heartbreaking for her because she was historically a good student and rock star in clinical, but this test anxiety crippled her. It wasn’t a reflection on the program or her training of any kind.

It’s hard to say, “That school has a lower board passing rate. They must be a bad school.” Don’t blanket statement that mentality. You have to look at the year-to-year averages for the board passing rate. Take the five-year average because if they have a bad year, they have a bad year. The pandemic put a lot of strain on us. All of a sudden, you’re all online.

All schools saw a pretty significant dip in board passing rates during the season of 2020 and 2021. What I have noticed is it has started to pick back up in 2022 and, more than likely, in 2023 as far as you’re seeing board passing rates go back up. It’s because a lot had changed over the course of 2020 and 2021 for CRNA programs and how they structured their curriculum.

Take it for what it’s worth. You want to look at the averages schools are producing over a period of time for the first-time board passing rates and not let one bad year affect your decision to pick that program. There’s no way to know what caused that, whether that was a student, the education, or the academics. They’ll tell you until they’re blue in the face what they think you should do to prepare, but it’s up to you as a student to do the work.

Sometimes, you can’t blame the institution for the board passing rates. At the same time, maybe they didn’t stress it enough, maybe they didn’t start early enough, or whatever it may be. I’m not sure. It’s hard to say. It’s important to look at those scores because it does show a trend. It shows a trend that maybe they’re strong at getting students to pass the first time. Why is that?

If they’re historically strong in getting first-time board passing rates, to me, that says that they historically know how to make their students buckle down and do the work. They historically know what the key concepts are they have to drive home to make sure they’re passing the boards on the first attempt. If they historically have lower board passing rates, I don’t know.

In my mind, if I saw a historically high board passing rate, it would imply they had a good handle on how to A) Pick their students very well for their cohorts and B) Allow the knowledge that they’re teaching to be applied in the curriculum and in clinical. The students get the concept, so they’re more successful on their tests. Maybe they offer them more support. Maybe they offer them more office hours where they can review old tests and things of that nature so they can understand what they missed, learn from their mistakes, or whatever it may be. There are multiple reasons why that could be the case, but look at the trends.

If you saw a historically high board passing rate, it would imply that the school had a good handle on how to a.) pick their students very well for their cohorts, and b.) allow the knowledge they're teaching to be applied in the curriculum and clinical. Click To Tweet

I went over that third board passing rate. For Rush University, the first-attempt passing rate was 86%. That’s relatively average. The national average is right around 84% or 83%. It’s higher than the average, but it’s in the ballpark of being average. High, to me, would be in the 90s consistently. I don’t know what the previous years are. Look at the previous years and see what they are. If they’re always in the 80s, then you know where they stand. If they have some years that they get 100% or 96%, then you know they probably trend on the upward trend as far as the average.

They have fifteen clinical sites, which is on the small side, but depending on their class sizes, which I don’t have listed here. You want to know how large their classes are. If their class sizes are small, like 10 students, 12 students, or 15 students, 15 clinical sites are plenty. Schools that have more students are going to have more clinical sites, clearly. Don’t get me wrong, but in the big picture, most schools tend to have 25 to 30 sometimes even or maybe even more than that. It also depends on the size of the program.

The key thing is you’re not rotating through all fifteen clinical sites. You’re like, “It’s a lot of sites for practically two years.” You still spend about a year doing DNP work and curriculum versus clinical. You’re doing all these clinical rotations in about 2 years or 28 months or so. The fifteen clinical sites are plenty. I rotated through 5 in my 28 months of rotations. Some students do more than that. Some students are going to different locations pretty frequently. I had a home base that I was there for almost an entire year. I did my specialty rotations where I rotated in different hospitals for my specialty rotations outside of a few additional things. It depends.

Every student within the same program is going to have a different experience because you are going to have different rotations. It’s not because I go to X University and have 5 of these clinical rotations that there are going to be other students at X University that have 5 different rotations that I did not go to. That changes your experience. It’s not necessarily bad or good. You don’t always get to pick. Sometimes, you’re up to the mercy of what you’re randomly assigned for these clinical rotations.

However, these are things that you want to be asking about when you’re either interviewing or when you go to open houses. It is things like, “Do I have a choice or a preference that I can select for clinical rotations?” Maybe you want to become a peds CRNA. Having a very lengthy peds rotation and a good one at a level one trauma center is important to you versus being thrown at a center that does peds but is not truly a peds hospital.

That’s where I used to work. They consider themselves a peds hospital, but they didn’t just do peds. They did everything. Peds were included. Our students that rotated did peds there, but it was hit or miss whether they get a good peds rotation depending on the schedule. If that month or two that they were doing their peds rotation wasn’t heavy peds cases, they didn’t get peds.

My rotation in peds was at a pediatric-only hospital where every single day for three months, I had nothing but peds. My peds rotation was incredible. I’ve seen so much variation depending on what hospitals you go to that claim they’re a peds hospital and they do kids, but it’s hit or miss with what gets scheduled for surgery. Know that can be the case.

It is the same thing with open heart. Even though where I used to work they got a dicey peds rotation for those students, they got a killer heart rotation. That was one thing. I did the heart team there. They had three rooms that did hearts. Every day, they did 2 to 3 hearts per room, so these students got tons of experience. We did TAVRs. We did a lot of EP, AFib ablations, and things like that.

We did a lot of cardiac cases at that center, so those students had a very good, thorough cardiac rotation. I had to go split my cardiac rotation when I was in school with another student. They only had 1 or 2 hearts maybe on the schedule for the week, so it was hit or miss whether I even got to do hearts on my heart rotation. It was upsetting at the time. I was like, “This seems so unfair.” Other students from my program got a good heart rotation. It depended on the luck of the draw for that.

I didn’t have a choice on where I went for my heart rotation. In fact, it was a very hard rotation for our university to even secure for our students to get. All universities are going to have different experiences when it comes to where they can secure your clinical rotations. That could change mid-schooling, meaning maybe they lose a clinical site or they gain a clinical site.

While clinical sites are important, I want you to understand the little nuances of it that may not always be in your control. You have to do the best you can. At the end of the day, schools will always make sure you get what you need to graduate. They will make sure you get the number of cases you need in certain areas and specialties to graduate. That’s ultimately, at the end of the day, what you have to do. I had to count some of my observation days for my heart. That’s how ridiculous it was, but that’s what I had to do.

I still went out and did an open heart team. It clearly didn’t hinder me, but I remember at the time thinking, “This is a bummer because this is what I want to do. My rotation is terrible.” It was the same with my OB. I knew I wanted to get more into OB, but my OB rotation was not good. They threw me in a bunch of C-sections all day, and I had tons of spinals. I didn’t need spinals. I needed epidurals, and I barely got a handful of epidurals under my belt before I graduated.

When I joined the open heart team, I was expected to do 24-hour shifts and be the sole CRNA doing the OB. I was like, “Oh, my gosh.” I had to learn the majority of my skills on the job as an actual CRNA. It ended up being fine, but I do remember thinking it was a total bummer in school. In case you have that experience, know that that’s not the end for you. There is hope that you can graduate, get the job of your dreams, and get on-the-job training as an actual CRNA. That’s enough of that tangent.

Their average cumulative GPA for their admission is 3.57. That’s pretty standard. For most CRNA programs, the average GPA for admission overall is 3.5. Their average science GPA, they listed it 3.28. I find that interesting. Not all schools will list these types of breakdowns, but if they do, it’s gold. Write it down. This is the knowledge I love to find on CRNA websites or CRNA school websites because it helps you understand how they evaluate their candidates, especially when in terms of GPA.

It’s great to see that they don’t necessarily have such a high science GPA requirement. If their average science GPA is 3.28, that means some of them may be closer to a 3.0 science GPA. If that’s you, if I’m speaking to you and you know your science GPA is closer to a 3.1 or 3.2, their average is a 3.28. That’s a very good sign for you if that’s a school you want to apply to.

I’m not saying not to do additional courses to try to boost that. You should, but knowing that they take that as their average, that’s a good sign for you. Keep that in mind. When you’re looking at schools and trying to break down where you stand in the eyes of admissions, knowing how they break down GPAs and what their average cohort admissions are is key to knowing how much emphasis they put on that type of thing. That’s all I have on Rush. It is listed as number one.

At the end of this episode, we’re going to go over what are some other things that you should consider to evaluate schools other than these key factors. Keep in mind that the US New & World Report is not going to be considering these other factors. They don’t even know about the other factors. The factors you should be considering are completely outside of this US News & World Report ranking, which is why this episode is important to do. These are all good schools, so you wouldn’t be wrong. I’m not poo-pooing any of this. I’m saying make sure you’re considering other things. This is not the only thing that you should be considering.

Mayo Clinic – Minnesota

2) Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Their DNAP is 39 months. It is a little bit different from the standard of 36 months. It says they don’t offer online courses. A lot of schools do some hybrid stuff with some of their courses. That may not mean that they don’t do something, but they listed it as no. It costs right around $65,000.

Take this with a grain of salt because it could change from year to year. I know students who have gotten into the Mayo Clinic who sign on relatively early to work there afterward and get a free ride. I’ll say it again. They get a free ride to go to school at the Mayo Clinic if they work there afterward. If that’s important to you or that’s big, “Sign me up. I’ll sign my life away for that,” maybe you might want to consider that. That’s a good perk. That’s pretty unique to get a full ride to CRNA school.

Before you do that or before you sign your life away, please talk to the current CRNAs who work there. Job shadow one. Ask what it’s like to work there. Ask about the turnover. Ask what the most senior CRNA is that you work with. If they say 2 years or 3 years, that is a red flag. That has happened to me. I wish I would’ve asked that before I took the job.

Nurse anesthetist monitoring patient during surgery
Best CRNA School: Job shadow one, ask what it’s like to work there. Ask about the turnover. Ask what’s the most senior CRNA that you work with.

You should be asking these questions before you sign your life away. Typically, when you sign contracts like that where they’re paying for you or giving you any stipend, if you break that contract, they’ll come back at you with not only the money you owe them but penalties. Trust me. They can afford good lawyers. You don’t want to mess with that. You will be committed to working there, whether that’s 3 years, 4 years, or whatever it is. You’ll have to tough it out even if you’re miserable. Keep that in mind. Also, sometimes, people will sign these stipends and these contracts and don’t think about, “What if after school I want to move back to be closer to family?” Maybe someone in their family gets sick and they feel like they have to move.

Think about those things ahead of time. It is not that you can predict when people are going to get sick, but you may have an idea of, “Your health is not the best. Maybe I should think about moving back home after school. If I sign this five-year contract and something does happen, I’m going to be stuck. Is that something I can live with? What would I do if I break the contract?” You should always understand what the ramifications would be if you were to break contracts. Make sure you know that first before you sign anything. Have a lawyer look it over if you need to. Enough about that.

It is relatively affordable at $65,000. That’s a very affordable tuition cost for a CRNA school. The average is right around $100,000. That is where the standard is. Anything cheaper than that, it’s relatively affordable. I know that sounds like, “Really?” but trust me. You can get up to $200,000 for some of these schools. Some of these schools are $100,000, $150,000, or $125,000. Anything from $80,000 to $100,000 is what I would consider the standard since it has become a DNP. They did tack on some extra cost because of the extra nine months of schooling.

Their first-time pass rate was 81%. The five-year average of their first-time board passing rate is 80%. Their most recent attempt was 81%, but their five-year average is 80%. If you look at the five years, it is 84%, 82%, 73%, and 81%. 73% was in 2020. Take it with a grain of salt knowing they’re probably more likely in the eighties range in the more normal years that you’re not dealing with a pandemic. They did have that dip. That’s what I said. Look into what year that occurred and take that into consideration. Know that they’re inconsistently in the 80s with their board passing rates.

That’s the number two ranked school. This is why I want to point it out. Mayo Clinic’s a great school. I know a lot of students who have been happy there. Just because they’re ranked by this US News & World Report does not mean they’re going to get 100% board passing rates from all these schools. You still have to be very granular. Look at all the details when considering applying to any school. I want to make sure I did this episode to point it out.

Duke University

3) Duke University. DNP is a 36-month program. It says it does not offer online. For this one, it says it is $2,075 per credit hour. That’s expensive. That’s probably in the ballpark of getting up to $200,000 for the full tuition. Keep that in mind. You’re not going to get a higher-paying job if you spend more to go to CRNA school.

If it’s the school of your dreams and it is in the ideal location, you like their faculty, their students are happy there, and you’re happy with the board passing rates and the clinical sites, then go. Don’t let money hold you back because you will be making a lot of money as a CRNA. If you have two choices and think because they have the prestige that you’re going to spend more and then make more, that is wrong. Make sure you’re not misconstruing that.

You won't get a higher-paying job if you spend more to go to CRNA school. But if it's the school of your dreams, it's in the ideal location, you like their faculty, and so on, well then go; don't let money hold you back, because you will be making a… Click To Tweet

Just because you have a degree from Duke doesn’t mean you’re going to get more job offers after school. We’ll cover that at the end when I go over the key things to think about what will get you job offers no matter where you go to CRNA a school at. We’ll go over that. It’s something pretty basic that you might be like, “Of course,” but it’s not where you got your degree.

Their first-time board passing rate was 96%. That’s pretty good. I would be very happy with that if that was a consistent board passing rate on the first attempt. Their minimum science GPA is 3.2 on a 4.0 scale. It is their minimum, meaning it is not their average. I’ve mentioned before how Rush had an average science GPA of 3.28, meaning half were below and half were above. For this one, the minimum science GPA requirement is 3.2.

I have seen a lot of schools make this jump when they eliminated the GRE, which Duke no longer requires the GRE. That has been a pretty common thing that I have seen. They don’t require the GRE. They have a higher science GPA requirement. They eliminated a nasty test that was annoying and expensive to take, but they’ve made it harder to even apply to their program. They have a higher stipulation as far as your science GPA.

They put how many applications they receive. They said they typically receive 125 applications yearly. Although, that number doubled in 2022. They had 250 applicants in 2022. They took 27 students, which puts their acceptance rate at 11% for that year. It fluctuates from year to year. They also range from taking 17 students to 27 students. That is the most they’ve ever taken. The majority of them know they have a range of students they take. They don’t always take 25. They typically have a max number they can accept. They have a benchmark low number that they have to meet in order to get costs paid from the university side of things.

They have a range. Their range is 17 to 27 students, which is what their cohorts have been, but it varies because if they don’t have a good interview year, they take fewer students. They don’t fill seats to fill seats. A lot of schools work this way where they take the amount of seats that they feel would be successful. They don’t fill a seat because it’s left.

That’s a unique thing about CRNA school. I don’t know if all graduate programs are like that. Some programs take a seat because it’s there and they want to fill it. That’s something that CRNA schools typically do not do. They typically do not fill seats to fill them. They typically take less if they get less than a stellar group that they interview and don’t feel like they’re going to be successful. Knowing that, the average acceptance rate can fluctuate year to year along with how many applicants they get year to year.

I also wanted to point that out because back in 2020, when all that happened, I predicted the wrong thing. I thought CRNA schools would get hardly any applicants because I figured everyone is preoccupied. They’d be like, “What’s going on?” and forget about CRNA school. The opposite occurred when more applicants than ever started applying to CRNA schools. It was, in large part, because of burnout and because they were like, “If now’s the time, now’s the time to get out.” Maybe they’d already been thinking about CRNA school, but they’d been dragging their feet. The pandemic was like, “It’s time. Let’s go.” That’s what happened. That trend has continued ever since then.

We all know the state of nursing and healthcare. That’s unfortunate, but a lot of nurses are seeking ways to have a more fulfilling career. CRNA is that for a lot of ICU nurses. Keep in mind that CRNA school has become more competitive than ever. I’m not saying that to deter you or worry you. Don’t throw spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. Make sure you put your best foot forward the very first time so you can get honest feedback after you make a full-fledged effort to get into CRNA school.

Nurses reviewing medications before surgery
Best CRNA School: A lot of nurses are seeking ways to have a more fulfilling career, and CRNA is that for a lot of ICU nurses.

If you don’t get in and you don’t know if you really try to your fullest, how are you going to know if you could have gotten in? You need to make sure. I’ve seen people do this all the time. They’re like, “I’ll wing it and see what happens.” Don’t do that. If you want this, you have to make sure you know that you’re going up against people who are not going to be doing that and who are going to be taking this incredibly seriously. They’re more likely to be successful than you are.

If you’re not successful and you don’t take it seriously, you shouldn’t think, “I’m not cut out for it,” because you didn’t put your best foot forward. That’s silly when I hear people tell me that. They’re like, “I figured I’d wing it and apply this year to see what happens. If I don’t get in, then it’s not made for me.” That makes me question how serious you are, to begin with. It’s probably not the majority of you, especially tuning in to this show, but I hear that every now and then on social media. I’m like, “That’s crazy.” It’s crazy talk to me.

The attrition rate for Duke is 7%. Not all schools will list previous attrition rates. I love when they do because like the board passing rates, when you see a trend, it allows you to know, “Is this an outlier year? Is their attrition rate usually zero?” If you go to open houses and things like that, you should be asking, “I know your last attrition rate was 7%, but what has it been for the last 5 years on average?” That way, it allows you to see, you know, “Is this an outlier year? Is your attrition rate usually lower than that or is it higher than that?”

Seven percent is on the high end of the average. 5% to 6% is probably the average for most senior schools. On the high end, you’re looking at 10-plus. If it’s 10-plus, especially year after year, that would be concerning to me. There are a few schools like that. Make sure you’re assessing year after year. If they have a bad year or they have a 13% or 15% but then the next years are 2%, 3%, 4%, or 5%, then, in my opinion, they had an outlier year. It is keeping these things in mind.

You will see programs that practically have 0% attrition year after year. Those do exist, whether that means that they work incredibly hard to keep problem children in the mix, which is one thing, or maybe they’re better pickers, or maybe they have better remediation processes for students who are struggling. Whatever it may be, there is usually a reason why attrition rates are low consistently. That’s something to keep in mind when you’re picking your CRNA programs.

Villanova University

4) Villanova University. DNP is 36 months. The cost per credit hour is $1,300, so $102,000. It is right around the high-end average if you ask me. Their first-time board passing rate in 2022 is 83%. Over the last few years, it was 85%. You see that 83% is right around where they typically fall for their average board passing rate. This is why the five-year average is nice. Some schools list it, and some schools don’t.

They said, on average, they process 150 to 200 applications for 30 seats. You’re looking at a 15% to 20% acceptance rate depending on how many applications. This is unique about this program. They don’t list us on their website. I only know this because of the students CSPA has mentored over the years. They have shared this with me, which I thought was a very important thing to know about this program. They allow you a one-time application if you don’t get asked to interview. If you apply and they don’t interview you, you can’t ever apply again.

This was back in 2020 when I found this out. This is 2023. Please don’t put a foot in my mouth. Make sure you verify this when you go to an open house. Maybe this rule has changed. In 2020, there had been a handful of students who had verified that it was a harsh rule that they didn’t get asked to interview and they can no longer apply.

This is where I say, “Don’t throw spaghetti at the wall. Make sure you’re putting your best foot forward.” You’ve hosed yourself forever applying again if you didn’t take it seriously the first time. They have a one-up-and-done if they don’t ask you to interview. If they ask you to interview and you don’t get in, then you can reapply. For the students who don’t even get asked to interview, they ask that you don’t even reapply. That’s Villanova.

There are probably other universities that do that. In fact, I know there are. Usually, it’s not a one-time. It might be 1 or 2 times. Knowing that that is something that some schools do, keep that in mind. It usually has to do with the students who don’t even get asked to interview. If you’re asked to interview, you’re usually open to reapplying. The ones who don’t get asked to interview, they say it’s a 1-up-and-done or maybe 2-times-and-done. Knowing that some schools have these limitations, it’s important to find that out.

There’s another school, too. I did an episode with Ivan on this. It was three interviews and you’re done- You get three attempts at an interview. If you don’t succeed at any of those interviews, you can no longer reapply. These types of rules do exist. He got in on his third attempt, but can you imagine the pressure he was under? He’d be like, “This is my last time ever attempting to get into this school.” He was freaking out. I feel bad that he was in that situation, but it’s good to know that going into even your first time.

They say that the first year of study consists primarily of didactic content to prepare the student for integration into the clinical arena. Subsequently, the didactic and clinical proportions are integrated. Integrated and front-loaded, what does that mean? I’ve done a whole episode on that. You might have to dig back a little. It was way back. I have covered the differences between integrated and front-loaded.

Things have changed since schools are DNP related. The majority of schools are almost front-loaded if you were to put it in old standards. Depending on how they do their didactic work in the clinical setting, it makes them integrated versus front-loaded. Some schools cram in all of their didactic for the most part ahead of time. When you’re doing your clinical, you’re not doing a lot of your didactic coursework. You’ve already gotten that done. Other schools try to integrate didactic work into the clinical portion of their training. It depends on what you think your learning style is.

I did integrated, which is not the most common. The most common that I have seen is front-loaded. I liked integrated. It was hard. Sometimes, you were studying one specialty while you’re in another specialty. If you’re studying pediatric stuff in school but you’re in your heart rotation, you had to make sure you were then studying heart rotation stuff even if you had never covered it in school before. Sometimes, that would happen. You’d have to learn it yourself so you can make sure you are prepared for clinical.

That was hard, but I liked integrated mostly because I could apply what I was learning as I was learning it. It helped it stick better as I was getting to do it in clinical. Personally, even though I felt I was challenged, I liked the challenge because it made it stickier. It made the information stickier for me. If I had learned it and then not had it for 6 to 8 months, and then had it in clinical, I feel like I’d have to relearn it anyways. I’d have to brush back up on it anyways, which you do.

Since I don’t know and I never had the experience of front-loaded, it’s hard for me to say I wouldn’t have liked it. Ultimately, I was happy with the program I did. You have to maybe know what the best fit for you is going in if that matters to you. To me, I probably would’ve done either and would’ve found a way to be successful in either. What I ended up getting into wasn’t integrated, and it worked out fine.

Georgetown University

5) Georgetown University. DNAP is 36 months. The total tuition is around $118,000. It is on the more expensive end. Their first-time board passing rate was 95%. The overall attrition rate is 4%. 95% is pretty good for the board passing rate. The attrition rate’s pretty low. That’s, overall, looking great. The average cumulative undergrad GPA of enrolled students is 3.7.

Remember, I told you the average for most CRNA schools was 3.5, so this school has a very high standard GPA. In some schools, you will find this. In some schools, you will find the average admission GPA overall is 3.7 or even higher. It indicates that they put a lot of emphasis on GPA in their determining factor of whether the student’s going to be successful or not. These are the little nuances you have to understand. Know what you’re coming in with. If you are a 3.7 student, then you’re set.

I was flat-out told by a program director, “I had so many applicants. I didn’t even have to even look at applicants who had less than a 3.4.” Anything less than a 3.4, he put them in a non-applicable pile of applicants. He didn’t have to even look at them because he had so many that had higher than a 3.4. That’s what he went for because he puts a lot of weight on his GPA. That sounds harsh, but I want to let you know that there are these differences between CRNA schools. You should understand that. If you have a 3.2 or 3.3, apply to schools that have a lower average GPA for admissions to give yourself a better shot at being considered for an interview.

They had around 200 students apply with 35 enrolled for the summer semester, which put them at a 17.5 acceptance rate. The last reported acceptance rate from the COA, which looked at all the applications for CRNA schools across the country and how many seats that were in each year from 2018 to 2020, that was the last time they did a study. I’m sure they’ll have one come out in 2023. We’re three years behind at this point. Their data back then was an overall average acceptance rate of 15.5%.

I’ve seen so many false things on the internet. I have no idea where they get this information. I’ve seen way higher averages like 25% to 30%. I’ve seen some sites where they say certain schools are a 35% chance of acceptance. I’m like, “Where are they getting these numbers? That’s ludicrous.” I have no idea. Be careful. Fact check where you get this information.

The best source that’s going to always be accurate is from your actual CRNA school website. I don’t care how much you love the other website you’re visiting on who they are and what they’re doing. I’m speaking for myself included. You have to fact-check on the actual CRNA school’s website. Some of this information could be incredibly outdated.

Know that the average blanket statement across the board reported by the COA a few years ago was 15.5%. I do believe that’s gone down considering schools have been reporting record numbers of applicants. I believe the average acceptance rate is closer to 11% to 12% if you look at all the applicants who apply and how many seats CRNA programs have available.

That being said, in the upcoming years, we’re going to be opening around 8 to 10 new programs. We’ve also shut down at least 2, 3, or 4 programs. Even though we’ve opened 10, we’ve lost 4. We’ve technically only gained six new programs in the big scheme of things, but still, it’s a start. We’ve got some new programs opening up across the country.

I should probably do a whole episode on that. Some of the schools I can’t reveal yet because they’re still in the process of filing for accreditation and things like that. If you live in the area, you probably know what schools these are. There are some new schools that are opening up. If I am able to, I’ll look into doing an episode on that. I’m sure that’d be interesting for everyone to know which schools they are.

Baylor College

6) Baylor College. This is in Texas. DNP is 36 months. They have no online. The cost of tuition is about $120,000, so it is on the expensive side. For the certification exam, 91% is the first-time pass. Overall, in the past few years though, they have a 96.5% of first-time pass attempts. Even though this past cohort was 91%, their 5-year average is 96%. That’s probably what I would put more weight on, which is that 5-year average than that 1-year 91%. That’s a great number.

They said they receive approximately 120 applications per year. They admit 28 students. You’re looking at a 23% acceptance rate on average. This is from their website. They don’t say what year they wrote this. I do know for a fact that some of these CRNA school websites are not updated very frequently, unfortunately. There is a lot of rigmarole they have to go through to even update their website. It’s not their website. It’s the university’s website, so it’s not super easy to take the time to go and update these.

I don’t know what year they typed the 120 applications per year. It would be in the last few years. That’s unfortunate. The last data from 2018 to 2020 was 15.5%. They’re saying 120 applicants. In my best guess, they’re a little bit higher than the average for the overall acceptance rate as far as the number of applicants they get. Whether that’s 20% or 23%, it is right around there. Knowing that these can fluctuate year to year is key.

Virginia Commonwealth University – VCU

7) Virginia Commonwealth or VCU. DNAP is nine semesters, which is pretty standard. That’s 36 months. They do offer hybrid online options. In-state is about $78,000. That’s pretty good for in-state. If you’re out of state, most out-of-state tuition especially will go up some. It’s not all, but keep that in mind. Even though I’m stating these tuitions, that depends on whether you’re in-state or out-of-state.

If you plan and you’re like, “I want to be in-state,” you can become a resident. That means you settle down instead of traveling all over the place. You can pick where you want to go to CRNA school and then take a longstanding contract there. Most states are different. 12 months to 24 months is what you need to get residency in a state. I do believe that the minimum for most states is 12 months to get residency for college tuition. You can look that up online to see what that requirement is for whatever state you’re considering.

In 2022, they had an 81% first-time board passing rate. They have over 55 clinical sites in the surrounding areas even as far as Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. There are a lot of different variations. If you’re like, “I want clinical sites that are right around the hub of where I go to school. I don’t want to travel to a different state to go to a clinical site,” then maybe this is not the best school for you. These are things that you need to be considering. VCU is a very well-known school, high-ranked, etc. Maybe that’s a big no-go for you. Maybe this isn’t the best school for you despite the fact that it’s a well-known school.

The attrition rate for the last graduation class, which is 2022, was 2%. That’s very low, so that’s great. They also mention that they have rural hospitals with independent practice, which is great. That’s the new thing that a lot of CRNA schools are trying to get their students’ experience with, but it’s hard to come by for certain states. I personally think you should be looking for schools that give you this opportunity to do this. Even if it means you traveling far away to get the experience, this is the way the CRNAs’ career paths are going. If you get this experience while you’re in school, that’s going to help your career long-term to have that taste of what it would be like to work at an all-CRNA practice.

You should be looking for schools that give you this opportunity to do independent practice, even if it means you traveling far away to get the experience. This is the way CRNAs’ career paths are going. Click To Tweet

Schools that are offering that type of experience would be a high-value point. It is something to consider. Not all the other schools that are highly ranked are offering independent clinical sites. Maybe that’s important to you. Maybe it’s not. If it is, it doesn’t matter if they’re on the new US News & World Report. If they don’t offer independent practice, maybe it means you’re going to seek to go to school somewhere else. That’s VCU.

There’s a popular website for CRNA lookup information. They reported the average national first-time board passing rate is 88%. Fact check where you get your information. The only credible source to ever report the national average first-time board passing rate is the NBCRNA. That’s our certification. That’s what our NCE is through. If you ever want to know what the national average is for the CRNA first-time board passing rate, go to the NBCRNA. For any other website, you have to fact-check.

I don’t think it’s ever been as high as 88%. I have no idea where they ever got that unless it was decades ago. I have no idea. I have never seen it ever be that high. It fluctuates between 83%, 82%, 86%, and maybe 84%. The last I knew was 84%. NBCRNA is reporting 83.4% in 2022. Maybe they weren’t wrong. I’m not sure where the 88% came from. I’ve never known it to be that high. Maybe it was one year and they put it on their website and forgot about it.

Knowing that happens pretty routinely, make sure you’re checking when things were last updated. If a site doesn’t say when it was last updated, you have to go to the source to get the updated credibility to know. Knowing that the NBCRNA reports at 83.4% for 2022, you have an average to compare your school to. If they were at 83%, they’re right on average. If they’re higher than that, they’re doing above average as far as their first-time board passing rate.

Comparing the national average to your school’s results, in my opinion, is a good way to see where they fall on the spectrum. If they’re below 83%, then you know they’re below the national average of the first-time board passing rate. That’s an important fact to take away from that. Make sure you’re fact-checking what websites you’re getting your information from.

Columbia University

8) Columbia University. DNP is 36 months. The total cost is right around $120,000. It is on the high end of the average. Their first-time board passing rate in 2021 was right around 95%. The COA looks at different formulas for what schools maintain for their board passing rate. They have to have the board passing rate within 60 days after the failure at 95% in order to remain accredited based on the Council of Accreditation.

Columbia has a very high board passing rate. You’re looking at 95% one year, and then we have 85% and then 89%. The 5-year average is 94%. That shows you that they’re usually on the higher end of the average if the national average is 83.4%. Columbia’s 5-year average is 94%. They are doing well as far as having their cohorts pass on the first attempt.

They have 44 clinical sites across 6 states. There is probably a lot of travel involved if you are a student there going to the clinical. Their attrition rate for a 5-year average is 4.8%. That is relatively low, but it does fluctuate. Their clinical sites vary from large urban academic medical centers to community-based hospitals to certified registered nurse anesthetist-only sites. To me, that’s a big thing that not all these ranked schools are even offering. That’s key. Knowing that schools that are not ranked on this list also offer this experience is a huge value point for you as a student. Keep that in mind.

University of Cincinnati


9) University of Cincinnati in Ohio. DNP is 36 months. The online cost is $7,451 per semester. There are typically nine semesters in a 36-month program. I’m not going to do the math. You can do the math. That’s on the more expensive side within the realm of these other schools. Their first-time board passing rank in 2022 is 96%. That’s very good. They offer 19 clinical sites within 45 miles of campus.

They’re advertising the fact that they keep their clinical sites relatively close by, if that’s important to you, instead of having to travel state-to-state to get your clinical sites. Know that that could also limit your experience. Some of these students who travel to various sites across the country are going to get a very well-rounded variation of clinical experience because they’re going to see such a variation in practice. You can still see a lot of variation in practice within your own realm of neighborhoods. Whether you’re going to get independent practice depends on what state it is, maybe or maybe not because it’s harder to combine certain states to find sites like that that students can rotate through.

Some of these students who travel to various sites across the country are going to get a very well-rounded variation of clinical experience because they're going to see such a variation in practice Click To Tweet

They also make sure they highlight the fact that they have 15 didactic and simulation faculty in more than 80 clinical faculties. That is a very high student-to-faculty ratio if that’s important to you. That’s a very good quality to have, to know that there’s extra support there for you as a student having a lot of faculty there. That could be something that could, in my opinion, add a lot of value to going to the school.

They also hit on the fact that they have very well-ranked hospitals within their clinical realm. One of them is Cincinnati Children’s, which is one of the best in the world. It’s top-notch. If peds is what you want to do, having a rotation and getting to do it at Cincinnati Children’s, you’re going to get a phenomenal experience. That’s something also to consider because they have that in their wheelhouse.

Another thing to consider is whether they take transfer credits. Cincinnati also talks about how they take transfer credits. That’s huge. Not all schools will take transfer credits. That’s something also to consider because if you have an MSN, for example, maybe your school will take some of that work. You don’t have to repeat it, which would be not only cost-saving but time. Anything that can cut down on your workload while you’re in the anesthesia training program would be great. Maybe you can work more. Maybe you can work a few extra shifts at the beginning of your program because you don’t have to take nursing theory again. That’s also a bonus with some of these schools.

They also report their attrition rate to be very low. They had some high attrition in 2019, 2021, and 2018 at 8% and 7%. However, they were 0 for 3 years in a row. They had 0 attrition rate from 2015 to 2017. In the last few years, they’ve had higher attrition. I don’t know if I would put that on the school. The fact that they had 3 years in a row of 0 attrition says to me that’s probably more in line, but they do have an occasional spike. Back in 2014 and 2016, for some odd reason, they had 8% attrition. It does look like on occasion, they do spike. The fact that they had 3 years in a row of 0 attrition says to me that they probably work well with their students to try to keep them in the program as much as possible.

Northeastern University

10) Northeastern University. They didn’t have a lot on their website, if I’m being perfectly honest, to pull from. It left me with not a lot to go by. They are about $135,000, which is on the more expensive side. Their program pass rate for 2020 to 2022 was 89%. Their reported attrition rate was 4%. They’re a relatively new program. Maybe that’s why. They had 89% and their attrition rate was 4%. That is all I got for you for the top ten schools that are ranked.

Additional CRNA Programs to Consider

I wanted to add a few not ranked schools to give you some comparison items to see. One of them would be the University of Akron. That’s my alma mater. I have to represent it. It’s where I went. Some schools like home-bred people because they want them to stick around. Don’t get me wrong. Certain universities will take students from other states, but I found this to be common for a lot of universities. They tend to prefer students who are local because they understand that they’re more than likely going to stick around and take jobs afterward, which is what the hospitals like, whether that’s fair or not fair.

I’m not saying Akron won’t take students from out of state, but they do tend to like Cleveland, the Akron area, and Ohio. They take Ohio people because they know they’re more likely to stay. They have been taking more people out of state over the last few years because they’ve gotten some really competitive applicants and they couldn’t turn them down.

For the University of Akron, their 5-year average first-time board passing rate is 98.8%. That’s incredibly high. They had a 100% pass rate in 2022, 2018, and 2019. In the last few years, they’ve had a 100% board passing rate 3 different times in 5 years. Out of the 5 years, only twice did they not meet that 100% standard. That is a very high first-time board passing rate.

Their attrition rate over the last few years is 0%. That means if you get in, you graduate. They have consistently had incredibly low attrition rates. There’s only been a few blips of 2% to 3% here and there twice. The rest of the years are all 0%. They have an incredibly low attrition rate. That’s amazing about the program. They are good at picking their students. I know this to be true because I went there. They work well with their students to make sure they’re successful. If you’re struggling, they hold out an open arm for you to get the help you need to be successful. That is what I know to be true.

They have 47 clinical sites because they place students in different areas of Ohio. They have quite a few clinical sites. I didn’t live in Akron when I went there. I lived in Columbus, so I was part of the Columbus cohort. They had Cincinnati and Toledo. Their biggest cohort was the Akron cohort. They had a lot of their students placed in the Akron-Cleveland area. They have a lot of clinical sites. It’s because they have a dispersed, wide range of locations for students to live while they go to school in Ohio.

They do take between 36 and 40 students every cohort. I’m surprised to see that number so high because I thought they were going to go down a little bit. My understanding is they might have to take fewer students once they became a DNP program. They interview right around 100 students. I don’t know how many applications they get, but all I know is what I was told.

They had so many that they didn’t have to even look at anything less than a 3.4 to consider for an interview. They do get a lot of applicants. They don’t just fill seats. Their cohorts have been as small as 32 before. Forty is very large. My cohort was the largest they’d ever done at the time, and it was 38 or something like that. They typically didn’t take cohorts that large.

The tuition is dirt cheap, so people want to go there. It’s only $507 for an Ohio resident per credit hour. That’s $47,000 for the program. That’s one of the lowest you will find in the entire CRNA land. For non-residents, you add $305 to that. It puts it more at the average cost per credit hour for CRNA schools. You can’t beat the in-state tuition for Akron. It’s pretty awesome. There’s that.

The other school that’s not ranked is South Carolina. They have a 100% first-time board passing rank in 2021. Their average attrition rate is 5%. They are about $68,000 for the entire program. It is very affordable. They get about 200 applications and take 30 students. Their acceptance rate is right around 15%. I am not biased or anything. I wanted to throw those couple other schools in there to paint a picture because part of me feels like you’ve got to break down what makes you want to go to a school more than what it’s ranked. To me, you’re going to find little gems that are out there that are never going to be ranked that are low attrition rate, high board passing rate, and good clinical sites. Why would you not consider those schools? I want to point it out there.

Nurse Anesthetists helping patient prepare for surgery
Best CRNA School: You’re going to find little gems out there that are never going to be ranked. That are very low attrition rates, very high board passing rates, and very good clinical sites. And why would you not consider those schools?

How to Pick Your CRNA Program

Let’s go onto the key factors to consider when picking your CRNA school. I’m going to go through this quickly because I know this has been a long episode. The attrition rate, we’ve already covered that in detail. The first-time board passing rate, we covered that in detail. I’ve had students say, “If I get a degree from X University, that might be a hefty tuition cost versus the University of Akron,” for example. They’re like, “Am I less likely to get job interviews? They’ve never heard of the University of Akron, but they would’ve heard of this hospital because they’re prestigious.” I am like, “No. That’s not how the CRNA world works.”

The way the CRNA world works to get a job is about how you show up. How do you show up for your job? How reliable are you? Are you calling off all the time? Are you a team player? Trust me. The first thing any CRNA will do when someone applies for a position is to say, “Who knows so-and-so? Raise your hand. Find someone who knows so-and-so,” it’s a small community. They talk.

Our chief CRNA will come to all of us in the break room and say, “Does anyone know so-and-so? They’re applying for a job here. What do you know about them?” That matters the most, not where you got your degree. They don’t care. They’re going to care about your experience. If you’ve only ever worked at the surgery center and you’re applying at a level one trauma center, they’re going to be like, “I don’t know.”

Experience matters as far as what is within your wheelhouse or your toolkit. Some places are well-equipped and able to train you no matter what your experience has been. They’ll say, “You only have surgical center experience? Come on. We’ll get you on board. We’ll train you up. You’ll be one of our level one trauma center CRNAs here within a few weeks.”

Other schools and other hospitals could be more selective where they’re like, “We want someone with experience in peds or experience in OB. We don’t take new grads,” or whatever it may be. It depends on the site. Experience matters, and then your work ethic matters. That means how you’ve shown up in your previous experiences. That’s what’s going to matter more than where you got your degree than anything else. Don’t worry about picking a school for the name. That should not be what you do at all. I’ll get into this later, but that’s the wrong way to go about it.

Clinical sites and opportunities for independent practice is a very high-value point. Talk to current students. I don’t care how well-known any school is. If you think it’s your dream school, talk to current students. Talk to more than one because they may be biased. Maybe one has had a bad go at it, but someone else had a very good experience. Knowing that the experiences could be vastly different depending on the student, you have to do your own assessment and say, “Is this normal or is this just them? Are they struggling because of something that maybe they’re doing or not doing? Maybe I can ask another student to see if they have the same experience. If they don’t, then I take it with a grain of salt.”

Try to talk to as many students as you possibly can from your dream CRNA school(s) to get a better picture of what it’s truly like to go there and what it’s like from their experience with dealing with faculty, their clinical rotations, and things of that nature. That is always going to be your best way to get a good experience as far as what your expectations are going to be. Don’t talk to someone who went there ten years ago. I talk all day about Akron. I loved it when I went there, but that was several years ago. I don’t know. Things have changed. Faculty has changed. Talk to current students. That’s the best way.

For the average GPA for admission, know what you’re up against. If you’re picking a school whose bar is at a 3.7 and you’re at a 3.2, are you giving yourself the best shot? You might not be. Look at the schools and find out what their average science GPA is or what their average overall GPA is to understand how you stack up against that. It also paints a good picture of what you have to do to be competitive in that school.

If you have a 3.3 and your school’s average GPA is 3.7, you need to be taking courses. You should probably always be taking courses if you’re less than a 3.4 for the most part. If you’re at a 3.4 and your average GPA for that acceptance of 3.7, I would still probably take an additional course even though for another school, you may not have to because your average acceptance is a 3.5. You’re probably going to be in that ballpark of being okay. Finding that out is going to allow you to know how to tackle that application process.

For the average class sizes, if small class sizes matter to you or high student-to-faculty ratios matter to you, then make sure you’re understanding what the school can offer you. If you’re a very self-motivated self-learner and prefer to be a loner and on your own, then maybe that doesn’t matter to you. If you’re someone who knows you need to go to a lot of office hours, knows you need a lot of questions answered, and likes a lot of touchpoints, I would probably make sure you pick a program that has a high student-to-faculty ratio. It is so you can make sure you get the attention that you know you need to be successful.

For a remediation process, do they have one? Some schools don’t. Some schools are like, “If you don’t follow the grading policy, you’re out. No questions asked. Bye.” They don’t even work with the students. They say, “Bye. You’re gone.” It’s a one attempt and you’re done. Other schools will work with their students and have a remediation policy.

Understanding what that is and if they even have one may matter to you. If you had apples to apples to pick from schools A, B, and C and A and B had a remediation policy and C had nothing where it was very cut and dry like, “If you don’t get this, you’re out,” maybe you’d feel more comfortable going to the schools that had a remediation policy or whatever it may be.

It is the same with the grading policy. This can all vary. Some schools require a B or better. Some schools require a B plus or better. It’s 86% versus 80%. It can make a big difference in your success, especially if you know what kind of student you are. If you know you’re someone who can routinely probably get 80%, I’d probably pick a school whose grade policy was such.

All that being said, take it for granted because they tend to make these grade policies knowing where their successful students lie when it comes to first-time board passing rates. If it’s 86%, it doesn’t mean that they’re harder than the school that has an 80%. It maybe means that the school’s caliber to achieve the 80% is a little bit harder than the school’s caliber to achieve the 86% possibly.

I don’t know. It’s hard to say. Either way, it is knowing your grade policy is key, and how lenient they are with getting a C. Is it one time and then you’re out? Do they give you a C and two Bs and anything after that, you’re out? Knowing what the grading policy is is key to giving you an idea of, “If I were to pick this school over this school and this school that I have options to go to, if I mess up one time, am I going to be out of this school? Maybe I should go to this school that gives me more of a shot if I have a bad month or whatever it may be.”

Always remember when it comes to grades, speaking up early and often is key. You have to let them know you’re struggling. Otherwise, they can’t help you. You cannot wait until you have a bad grade to do something about it. It’s too late. If you’re struggling in a subject, you have to reach out before you get a bad grade. Please reach out and get help early and often. Share everything.

Doctor and nurse anesthetist standing with a patient during surgery
Best CRNA School: You cannot wait till you have a bad grade to do something about it. It’s too late. If you’re struggling in a subject, you have to reach out before you actually get the bad grade.

Don’t be embarrassed with your faculty. You’re paying to be there. You need to let them know all the stuff you’re dealing with. If that’s a total train wreck mess at home, let them know. If you’re not showing up as yourself, they’re not going to know. They’re going to maybe say, “They’re not trying,” but maybe you’re struggling at home. They need to know that. Make sure you’re being transparent with your faculty and have them understand what it is you’re dealing with if it’s something personal on the side.

That sums up this episode. I’m sorry it was lengthy. I hope you guys enjoyed it though and that it helped explain how to pick the best CRNA programs that are right for you. On to an update for the show, I’ve mentioned in other episodes before that things are going to be changing a little bit as far as the structure. We do have some students who are coming in and doing some guest episodes, which I’m so excited about. That will be starting here very soon.

CRNA School Prep Academy Podcast Updates

The other news is I need to take a break from the show. This is hard for me to talk about. It’s all honestly very new. I want to be honest with you guys and upfront because I don’t want you to think I’m abandoning you. I will be back. For those of you who follow me on Instagram, which I highly encourage you to do because that’s where I’m going to be giving most of my updates, we’re pregnant with twins. We found out in April 2022 that we’re pregnant with identical twins.

They are complicated or high-risk twins because they share one placenta. It means they’re at high-risk for a lot of different things, some of it being twin-to-twin transfusion, the blood flow can be unequal, or the TAPS, which is where one develops anemia. There’s TTTS, TAPS, and then there’s also restricted inner uterine growth. That means one baby has only 1/3 of the placenta. It is getting less blood flow overall and is restricted in growth because it’s not getting much blood flow. There’s that.

There’s a type of twins called mono/di, which means they share 1 placenta but have 2 amniotic sacs. There’s the highest risk of identical twins, which is that they share one placenta and have no separating membrane. That means they could tangle themselves all up in a little knot. Their umbilical cords get tangled like a knot.

Going into this pregnancy, I originally thought I was mono-mono, which was the most dangerous kind. They told me, “We see a separating membrane. You are mono/di.” At least I don’t have that to worry about. That was a saving grace. I found out that somehow, my amniotic sac that divided the two twins ruptured. I have mono-mono twins, which is back to cord entanglement. The cord is tangled. They’re still doing okay, but my one baby girl, Cora, which is what I’m naming her, has an amniotic band wrapped around her left wrist. That may cut off blood flow and she may lose that limb. That has been a lot to swallow, but I’m grateful they’re alive.

All that being said, I have to be admitted to the hospital at 24 weeks for delivery at any moment. They will be early. The furthest I will go is 32 weeks. We’re looking at NICU time and things of that nature. I am asking for prayers. I wanted you guys to know what was going on because I need a break. I need a break from the show. If I go in at 24 weeks, that’s August 24th, 2023. It’s coming up very quickly. We’re at the end of June when I’m recording this episode. I’m going to be sixteen weeks.

I’m going to Cincinnati, the best children’s hospital out there, to get worked up at their fetal center for TTTS and TAPS and to figure out if there’s anything we do to save Cora’s arm if it’s not worth the risk. She may or may not have a functioning left arm. That is in store. I’ll be posting updates for you guys on Instagram. If you follow me there, you’ll get updates.

I’m sharing this openly and publicly because I want all the prayers I can get. We have three little blessings already. They are healthy, wonderful children. We’ll have our hands full. We were going for 4 and God blessed us with 5. Regardless of what this pregnancy turns into, we’re counting our blessings. We’re incredibly grateful for even the opportunity to potentially welcome two more little girls into this world. That’s the update.

I won’t be able to do any recordings when I’m in the hospital. I don’t even want to try. In the meantime, I’m going to try to have the student guest episodes be the majority of what you will tune in to over the next several months. Depending on when we have these babies, it’s looking at potentially around Halloween time. It will be mid-October 2023 probably when I have the babies potentially.

I don’t know what my life’s going to be like afterward. I have no idea. When we decided to have four, I was like, “I had number three when we started the business. I did it before. Let’s do it again.” When we found out we were having twins, I’m like, “Here we go. Now, we’re on for a wild ride.” I know the Lord wouldn’t bless us with anything we couldn’t handle.

I believe I’m going to be back. I don’t know if that’s going to be in the fall of 2023 or early in 2024. I’m not leaving you. I want the show to continue. I know it’s a great resource for you. I will try my best to keep it going every week with student episodes. We’re doing a private faculty show for CSPA students. I’m going to share tiny little blips of those episodes on occasion with you because they’re gold. I want you to have a piece of that.

If you’re a CSPA student, don’t worry. You will get the whole episode. We’re going to be launching those very soon. We have already started recording them. I wanted to get a chunk of those already recorded prior to launching it to make sure we had a buffer. Richard Wilson is the one doing them. He’s a busy guy. He is CSPA’s expert contributor. He’s a huge, integral part of CSPA. He’s wonderful.

That’s an update for you guys. I’m sorry. Hang in there. I’m rooting for you. Even if you’re not going to hear from me for a while, I’m always thinking about you and your CRNA journey and wishing you the best of luck. We’ll be in touch on Instagram. Hopefully, we’ll be welcoming two little girls into the world very soon. Until then, we will talk to you guys later. Take care.


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