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Episode 129

Episode 129: Preparing For CRNA School With Guest Hosts Cordero and Monica

Aug 9, 2023

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Get ready to dive into the world of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) school preparation. In this special edition, our guest hosts and current Nurse Anesthesia Residents, Cordero and Monica from A Couple Nurses, share their firsthand experiences and valuable tips to help you ace your CRNA journey. Cordero and Monica explore the burning questions that plague every aspiring CRNA student. From what to study before school to managing finances, they leave no stone unturned in their quest to prepare you for this life-changing adventure. One crucial piece of advice that stands out from this lively discussion is the art of enjoying your time off. Our hosts emphasize the significance of embracing your downtime, savoring vacations, and making smart financial moves before embarking on the intense CRNA program. The duo also touches on the must-have gadgets and tools for CRNA school, from reliable laptops to the magical iPad. The journey to CRNA school is a difficult one, but you can embrace it with passion and purpose. Tune in and learn how to prepare for your CRNA school!

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Preparing For CRNA School With Guest Hosts Cordero And Monica

What’s up? Welcome back to A Couple Nurses. It’s Cordero.

Your girl, Monica.

We’re making a special episode for Jenny at CRNA School Prep Academy. We’re going to talk about CRNA school preparation. All the time, we get these questions about, “What should I do before school?” Talking about money, what should you study, and then we’re also going to give you guys some tips on moving because we did it all. We used U-Haul. We used PODS. We used movers. We’ll give you the best tips on that too.

I want to start out by saying whenever you are about to start school, don’t study anything. Maybe not true, but in my opinion, there’s nothing that you can study to truly prepare you for what you’re about to experience. A lot of programs, depending on how they are, whether front-loaded, integrated, or whatever the case may be, you may not even be touching core didactic science classes until you’re in person.

When I first started out, it was a lot of research classes, things that are going to prepare you for the DNP aspect of graduating with a doctoral degree. Chill, truly enjoy your time off, take your vacations, get your money in order, put things in a savings account. You are about to have three years of your life that are going to feel like you’re not doing the things that you truly want to do.

You’re accomplishing your goals and all that great stuff, but you’re not able to go party with your friends. You’re not able to go on these vacations, family vacations, weddings, whatever the case. You’re going to be missing out on a lot of life experiences within three years. More specifically, once you’re in person, I feel like that’s when the nitty-gritty and the grind begin.

Again, depending on what program you’re in, whether you’re integrated or front-loaded, the moral of the story, put the books down. You’re going to have plenty of exposure to books. For us, I feel like we took so many vacations. That was the best thing that we could do because even though we took all those vacations, I look back, I’m so happy that we did that. I’m still a bit sad that I’m in school.

Honestly, I’m grateful. I always remind myself, “Why would I want that?” Before you guys come in the comments, I’m still sad in terms of I still feel like I’m missing out on life. I still feel like I can’t take those vacations that I want to take because A) We’re not working, and B) These programs and this degree consume so much of your time, especially if you want to be successful. Not only being successful but meeting those bare minimums even, it takes a lot of work to pass your classes, pass your exams, and study everything ahead of time, whatever the case may be, so enjoy your time off.

These programs and degrees consume so much of your time, especially if you want to be successful—and not just successful, but even meeting those bare minimums. Click To Tweet

Once you start school, it’s pretty much nonstop. Our programs are a little bit different. In my program, we work in quarters. We have quarters, summer, fall, winter, and spring quarters, and we have a week between every quarter. Those breaks aren’t very long at all. The longest break we had was for winter, and it’s two weeks, which still, compared to your five-week break, isn’t much at all.

The five-week break was right after my first in-person didactic course of heavy eighteen credit hours. Even at that, I would much rather take the route that he takes because we don’t get one-week breaks like that. At least you consistently know, “After I finish this quarter, I’m going to have a week off.” It’s not a long time but for me, after those five weeks, I haven’t been able to take an actual true week off of school.

If we look back on all the times that I’ve come to visit you, I’m still working on something constantly. We don’t have, in my program, a dedicated vacation after every semester that we finish. I finished a spring semester, eighteen-credit hours as well, and it was like “a week off” and you’re doing all these other things to prep for this new course. That was probably the one time that I didn’t pick up a book, honestly, on a not-so-true break. It was only a week, and then I get put into a brand new class crash course of regional for six weeks.


Study Tips & Tools For CRNA School Prep

As far as what to study, I would definitely say do not study any hard sciences. If I have to look at any material, I would look at ways to study like how I can best study based on research and stuff like that. For us, they sent us a document giving us various ways to study, space repetition, and explain material in the depths.

I see what you mean.

You can get in your mind, “This is how I need to start.”

They sent you all tips on how to study, is what you’re saying. If I was going to tell you guys anything to “study,” nothing school related, go ahead and download Notability. Go ahead and download Notion. It’s free for students. Go through your email. I’m not too sure if Notability is free or not. I think it’s $10 a month. I paid the premium because you can make it all colorful and pretty. Notion is free for students. Go ahead and purchase that. Also, Grammarly, and start looking at how to utilize these products. That’s something that one of my mentors told me. I’m so glad that they did because, by the time I had started school, I wasn’t in here trying to figure out, “How do I work this application on my iPad?”

Even if you’re getting an iPad for the very first time, look up those shortcuts and those ways to make your life a little bit easier when you’re utilizing your iPad. It makes for an easier transition when you’re in class, learning material for the first time ever. Instead of you trying to flip through your applications on your computer and knowing how to write on the iPad or whatever the case may be, you already have that down. If I was going to recommend anything, definitely download those three apps and learn how to manipulate and organize your things. That will make your life that much easier when you do start your classes.

Student at laptop studying

CRNA School Preparation: Download apps and learn how to manipulate things and organize your things. That will make your life that much easier when you do start your classes.


Working Before And During CRNA School

People also have the question about when they should stop working. If I would recommend anything, I would say if you find out that you get into a program early enough, go take a travel contract. Go do it for 2 months, 1 month, anything. Try to stack up real quick, so that way, you have a good chunk of money that you can rely on. Every program’s different and your comfortability is also a big factor too. As soon as I started the program, I wasn’t working. Your route was a little bit different.

I started my program in January, and we were still doing travel nursing. I worked right up until full time in my program and I’m full-time working day shifts. I worked all the way up until two weeks before I had a report for my first semester of in-person didactic classes, which was my first heavy science courses, science-heavy didactic chunk, and semester. I took as much money as I could. I said, “I’m going to work as much as I could.”

As Cordero had mentioned, know your limitations. Also, remember, you’re just a number in a hospital. You are paying a lot of money for your program. At any point, if you feel like you cannot handle it and you need to go part-time or you need to quit, make that decision for yourself. That’s EQ right there. You got to make sure that you’re able to assess how you feel in these situations to make the best decision for yourself.

My personal reason as to why I wanted to work, I have some loans from my nursing school and previous schooling. I said, “I wanted to make a huge dent in one of my loans and pay it off.” I was blessed enough to do so with all of our savings. That made that possible. Additionally, I knew when we had that five-week break, I want to take a vacation. Sun’s out, bun’s out. I want to be somewhere in the Caribbean, relaxing. These are sacrifices that I made. I made sure that I was getting all my assignments done on time and doing everything that I need to do on my end in order to make that possible for me to work full-time.

I know plenty of people in my program. Based on how my program is set up, front-loaded, a lot of them did keep their job full-time right around the time that August hit, which is right when we started that first in-person didactic course. Some people didn’t. It takes, like I said, you realizing the patterns and understanding, “I can’t handle this right now,” and that’s okay. You’re paying too much money to try to adjust things in the making when you’re discussing a job versus school, which is going to prepare you for the rest of your life.


Must-Have Tools For CRNA School


I also want to give some suggestions to you guys like must-haves for school based on what’s helped me for my program. I recommend getting an extra monitor. Before even an extra monitor, make sure that your laptop is booted up and is ready for some extensive work. I have one of my classmates and he has to have his laptop plugged into his charger.

CRNA 29 | CRNA School Preparation

CRNA School Preparation: Get an extra monitor and make sure that your laptop is booted up and ready for some extensive work.

All right all times?

Yeah. You know that’s how some MacBooks get after so long.

It’s after that five-year life.

Make sure your laptop is ready to do some work because you’re going to be on that thing for hours.

You can go to Best Buy. Open up a credit card interest-free to pay off your laptop within the first year. That’s a tip I’m going to share with you all because that’s what I did. You’re going to need this. You are powering that laptop day in and day out at max speed, 20 pages open. You got Word open. You got the Internet Explorer open. You got some other stuff open. I have a classmate that’s had her laptop in since 2017. I said, “What?” It’ll randomly overheat. You hear the motor running and then shuts off. You can’t do that. When you sign up for every class in the syllabi, you’re saying, “I have a functioning laptop.” Have a functioning laptop. We can’t play those games.

We also both have iPads with the pencil. That helps you be mobile. It’s also an extra screen for you.

Some people may argue that it’s not necessary. I can see how you can survive without an iPad. I have an iPad, and then I have an extra monitor. I don’t know how I would have survived without my Mac. The thing is, on my Mac, I like to download my PowerPoints for my lectures whenever I’m going to class. It’s easier for me to jot down notes. I am a fast typer but I can pinpoint and circle things that they’re focusing on. You can draw over the PowerPoints and add additional notes. If your professors allow, you can also record on your iPad. That’s a little bit of food for thought.

If you get an iPad, you might as well get the iPad holder. It’s only another $10 to $15, so get it. The last thing that I have that Monica doesn’t have is an external keyboard and mouse.

He’s extra. I don’t need all that.

It sets up your command center.

He even got a webcam camera. I’m like, “For what?” We got a camera on the phone. We got a camera on the iPad. We got a camera on the computer. We use a camcorder. The quality is not even that good, but we’re not going to get there.

Relocating For CRNA School

We’re going to make this transition to the whole moving process. That’s something you should be planning for up until you get into school. That’s not something you want to be doing last minute because it’s so many moving parts.

I feel like a lot of people don’t talk about the moving process.

They don’t.

I’m all for content creation. We do this stuff, but those of you who’ve followed me know I always keep it real. A lot of influencers paint this perfect life when you’re in CRNA School, that it’s glamorous and they see all the successes. Sometimes they’ll post about their failures and stuff like that, but moving is such a non-spoken key topic that people need to cover. Hearing other people’s experiences is going to help you not make the same mistakes that we did, or even help share what you think would help us when we’re done with school to move. The journeys that we’ve been through, like Cordero said, we’ve tried it all. We’ve tried the PODS. We’ve tried U-Haul. We tried movers. It was expensive.

Through all those, we’re not going to take you down these horror stories and things that we’ve had to deal with. We recommend PODS. We can agree on PODS. Essentially, how PODS work is you call up PODS, you schedule them to drop off a pod, which is a big storage container, the ones that you see on trains and stuff sometimes, you put your stuff in there, and you tell them when to come to pick it up. They’ll take that pod to your location for you, which is a huge time saver and energy saver. Nobody likes driving the big U-Hauls around. It’s cheaper to do that, but it’s such a hassle, and then you have to find someone to drive your car. It’s a lot.

He’s saying all this because we went through all this. Movers are highly expensive when you’re moving from state to state. That was one of the options that we first had.

They’ll upcharge you.

They’ll start packing all your stuff and they’ll say, “By the way, we got to upcharge you $1,200,” which happened to us. Don’t make that mistake. As Cordero said, he did the PODS and that’s something that I’m thinking about doing whenever I’m moving from school because I currently have all my things in storage.

I’m in a situation where I had to move all my things from my apartment because I’m not resigning my lease due to clinicals. I moved everything into storage that’s walking distance from my apartment complex because my new clinical site is going to be an hour away from the home base of our campus. Personally, I can’t afford to rent. That’s silly in my financial situation with having two people in the household being in CRNA School. I’m going to be living like a nomad and Airbnb-ing this thing out. That was the best thing that I could do. It’s the most cost-effective.

I always try to remind myself that “This is temporary. I’m going to get my dream house. Everything’s going to work out. Manifesting it, I have to sacrifice a little bit.” That’s the journey that I’m on. I learned from all of our moving process, I was like, “This is the best thing that I can do. There’s no reason why I should keep an apartment that’s $1,500.” Paying $1,000 at this Airbnb a month makes more sense.

The last little thing I want to talk about is related to moving. It’s difficult finding out where you’re going to live. I remember I was looking for a couple of months, “Where am I going to stay?” Same thing with you, we were looking at stuff for a month, trying to find out the best bang for your buck as far as how many square feet can you get for how much they’re charging.

Regardless though, I would say make sure you have your own area for your office. Even if you can’t get an extra little room for an office like what we’re in now, at least have somewhere in your apartment where you can set up a desk, sit down, have all your books, have your laptop out, have your monitor out. You need to have a stable place. Even if you’re someone that likes to go to the library like me, you need to be able to come back to your station and set up shop. That was probably one of the biggest decisions that I’m glad that we made for ourselves.

Also, some food for thought as far as Cordero’s program is aligned. They have an apartment complex associated with their campus that’s more affordable for their housing and things like that. Do some digging, contact the school, talk to seniors, talk to juniors, and talk to people that are already in the program. They have a lot of guidance to share based on their experiences as well.

I had a mentor already in the program and she was kind enough to go to the apartment complex and show me a video of how the complex looked. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to get into an actual model or whatever the case may be. It made me feel that much more secure like, “I might be making the right decision.”

I wasn’t going to drive all the way to the state where I’m going to school and scope out apartments. Sometimes, that’s what people do. They’ll go out and travel to wherever their campus is and they’ll look for apartments. I didn’t have time to do that. I was working. Luckily, she was nice enough to do that. It saved me some time on my end. Another tip, always make sure that you’re seeking guidance from those who’ve already been through this process, especially in your program. They’re going to be able to guide you in the best way possible and tell you, “I love this about it. This is how much I pay rent.”

Always make sure that you're seeking guidance from those who've already been through the process, especially in your program. Click To Tweet

As my last little tip, whenever you’re calling these apartment complexes if you live out of state and you’re going to program out of your state, try to get a good feel for the personality and the tone of who you’re talking to on the phone. If you’re calling these apartment complexes and they can’t call you back or they’re being rude to you on the phone, realize that that’s where you’re going to be staying. You don’t want to be staying somewhere where they can’t even return your call because whenever your faucet’s leaking, how long is it going to take them to get to address you then? That’s another little nuanced type of deal.

Another thing I like to include that no one talks about either is this. I’m from Texas. I don’t know how it works anywhere else, but for those who are viewing from Texas- this is for the DMV and if you’re having to get your state inspection sticker replaced, personally, I’m not driving from where I’m at right now in school all the way to Texas to get my car inspected. We’re not doing that. We’re busy.

When you go on the DMV website, you can apply to get your sticker sent to you and let them know you’re in school and your situation. That’s one less heading out the way because at least for us in Texas, that’s something that you do on a yearly basis. I felt like that was very helpful because that’s something that I had to figure out on my own.

We hit some pretty big topics that we had questions on whenever we were starting. I hope this helped you. If you have any questions, leave comments for us. Hit us up on social media. We’re pretty open and willing to make new episodes and things for you. Hope that we can help you on your journey. Until next time, take it easy.

Don’t forget to follow us on our A Couple Nurses on YouTube and Code Blue and Bullsh*t Podcast. It’s available on Spotify and Apple.

See you.


**For more on Mental Wellness and Avoiding Burnout in CRNA School, Click Here: Mental Wellness in CRNA School with Cori Stone

Important Links

Have you gained acceptance to CRNA school? Congratulations! Prepare with the #1 pre-anesthesia curriculum, as recommended by CRNA program faculty. Start the NAR Boot Camp today: https://www.cspaedu.com/bootcamp

Thousands of nurses have gained CRNA school acceptance with CRNA School Prep Academy. Join today for access to all of the tools proven to accelerate your CRNA success! Click here:

https://crnaschoolprepacademy.com/join

Join the CSPA email list: https://www.cspaedu.com/podcast-email

Join the Free Facebook Community here! https://www.facebook.com/groups/crnaschoolprepacademyfree

Book a mock interview, resume or personal statement critique, transcript review and more: www.teachrn.com

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