Preparing for nurse anesthesia school clinicals

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Preparing for nurse anesthesia school clinical

I Wanted to Get Into CRNA School

My favorite memories about CRNA school are the experiences I had throughout the clinical portion of the program. I could sit here and talk to you for hours about how much fun it was, and all the interesting things I got to see and do. One of the biggest reasons I decided to apply to CRNA school was to learn all the advanced technical skills that certified registered nurse anesthetists get to use on a daily basis. I can still remember the first time I watched a CRNA intubate a patient. He made it look so easy and effortless, and I was excited to know that one day I would have those same skills. So I began my journey to become a CRNA. Working in ICU was great experience, and I enjoyed every minute of it. However because of nurses’ scope of practice they are limited to the type of an invasive procedures that they can perform. I was wanting to learn more advanced skills and build on my education. That is why becoming a CRNA is such a great option for all nurses looking to further their education and career.

Preparing for Nurse Anesthesia School Clinical

I’m not going to lie it does takes a little time getting used the clinical portion of your nurse anesthesia program. For me it was hard going from an experienced ICU nurse to the bottom of the food chain as an anesthesia student. Everyone knows that ICU nurses take care of the sickest patients, which helps them to develop unique critical thinking skills. This includes managing drips, monitoring hemodynamics, assessing the patient, and intervening when appropriate. Even after you have become an elite ICU nurse in all these areas, you will have to start all over and earn your stripes as an nurse anesthesia student.

The truth is even if you have your CCRN, worked in ICU for a number of years, and became the best ICU nurse possible, the learning curve in becoming a CRNA is huge. This is why students are required to complete a minimum of 550 surgical cases before graduating from a nurse anesthesia program. During this time you will be introduced to a variety of anesthesia techniques, surgery types, and clinical settings. This will help you to prepare for when you’re on your own and working as a CRNA.

A Typical Day in CRNA School Clinical

A typical day in clinical for me was waking up at 0545 in the morning, eating a small breakfast and heading to the hospital to start my day. After I got to the hospital, I would usually go to the main board in the OR and see what surgical case I was on. This usually included the surgeon’s name, the patient’s name, type of surgery, room number, and the starting time for the case. After I wrote down all his information, I would go to the OR room where I would begin to set up. A proper room set up includes an anesthesia machine check, drawing up medications, pulling up the patient’s history on the computer, and creating an anesthesia plan for that case. An easy way to remember how to set up for a case is the term “SAMMTIDE”.



This stands for Suction, Airway, Machine, Monitor, Tape, IV, Drugs, and Equipment. If you use this every case it will prevent you from forgetting any portion of the setup. This is important because forgetting something like hooking up your suction can result in a patient aspirating during induction. So take your time, and do a good job preparing. Once my room was set up, I would then head over to the holding area where the patient was waiting.

Pre-oping Your Patient

My pre-op assessment of the patient included assessing their airway to determine the level of difficulty they will be during intubation. I would also look over the patient’s history, medication list, any previous reactions to anesthesia, and other important medical information. This is the time where you get to interpret all the assessment information, and plan for any obstacles that may arise during the case. For example, if the patient is very obese you will know that they will need to be slightly “ramped” during induction to help align their airway to facilitate intubation. You’ll also go over the different anesthesia options available to the patient, and from there answer any questions that they may have regarding the surgery. Once I had completed my preoperative assessment, I would usually go and look for the CRNA to touch base with them about the anesthesia plan.

Starting the Case

When it was time for surgery we would take the patient to the OR and place them on our monitors. During this time the patient is placed on 100% oxygen, so that they will be pre-oxygenated for induction. After we had our initial vitals, and the patient was pre-oxygenated, we would begin our induction. The induction medications usually included lidocaine, fentanyl, propofol, and rocuronium. Once these medications were delivered the patient could then be safely intubated. After the endotracheal tube or LMA had been placed, we would connect the anesthesia machine and deliver anesthetic gas to keep the patient asleep during the case. When the surgery was done the anesthetic gas was turned off, and the patient would wake up. Once the patient was awake enough, they would be extubated and taken to the recovery room.

Recovery room


After dropping them off and giving report we would head back to the main OR board to see which case we were on next. This process was repeated until all the cases were done for the day. I would usually do between four and five surgeries per day, ranging anywhere from a simple C-section to a major cardiac case such as a AAA. I like the variety of surgeries that I was exposed to at my clinical site, because it helped prepare me for being on my own after graduation. My advice is take every learning opportunity available to you during this time. These experiences will help you grow both professionally and personally. This is an exciting time, so make sure you take the time to enjoy it. It truly is a great adventure!!! Best of luck to you!

How to Become a Nurse Anesthetist

If becoming a Nurse Anesthetist is a goal of yours, and the field of anesthesia fascinates you, then you need to start preparing now. Gaining admission into a top CRNA program requires time and effort. The good news is we know exactly what schools are looking for, and we can help you to create the perfect application. CRNA Career Pro has taken all the guess work out, and we leave you will only the most important aspects of the application process.

CRNA School Admissions: The Cold Hard Facts is an eBook program that lays out for you the most efficient and effective way to go about getting accepted into CRNA school. You will be shown how to pick schools, gain the required work experience, write personal essays, job shadow CRNAs, and so much more. If you would like to know more please take a look at: So You Want to be a Certified Nurse Anesthetist.

CRNA School Admissions: The Cold Hard Facts


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