When I started nurse anesthesia school, I was beyond ecstatic and excited but I was also worried and scared out of my mind. It was all about the unknown of what was ahead. How was I going to survive CRNA school? I know you’ve all heard the horror stories about how you will be overwhelmed and purely exhausted everyday. You’ve also likely heard a common analogy, learning in CRNA school is like “drinking from a water hose” when the pace and amount of information is significantly increased.
To be honest, I felt this until my last day of clinical. And I still made it! And so will you. The end goal is always the same- to get to the finish line. One of the reasons people give up on becoming a nurse anesthetist is the constant thought how am I going to get through this. Today, I want to share with you ways I survived CRNA school. Hopefully they will help you also become what you desire- a CRNA.
Treat CRNA school like an honorable career
I have never had a problem going to college or ever needed motivation or inspiration whenever it came time to register for classes. I often hear others say it is the worst thing on the planet. In my opinion, CRNA school is nothing like college but more like a full-time career. One way to get through CRNA school is to think of it as an honor and investment wrapped up in one. Because it really is! Thinking of it this way will help you prioritize your time and prepare you to work harder than you ever have before.
Stay organized- create a schedule
Go into CRNA school, with a plan. Not only make a plan for studying but make a daily plan of how you will eat, sleep, study, spend time with your family and take care of yourself. I am mostly a pen to paper type of girl, so while in CRNA school I used a planner and binder for my classes to keep everything organized.
My planner consisted of important reminders, dates, and assignments. I also had a section for wellness although it pretty much fell to the wayside. I usually had 6 classes my first two semesters until I started clinicals, so I had 3 binders with material for 2 classes. They were sectioned by homework, to do’s, powerpoints, additional resources, etc.
Some of my classmates used their laptop or tablet for everything which is fine also. On an iPad or tablet, you can keep all your slides in an application or in different file folders. A great thing about using this type of technology is you never have to worry about leaving your notes at home! The options are limitless and you can use whatever feels comfortable to you.
Take care of your physical and mental health
Maintaining your physical and mental health is needed to get through CRNA school and be the best student nurse anesthetist you can be. Luckily, most nurse anesthesia schools have a student health center and counseling services available at all times. I am thankful for both of these services as I went whenever needed while I was in my CRNA program. Keeping these two things intact can both improve your brain function and lower your stress levels. Here are some other ways to deal with stress.
Find a support system that works
Finding the right support system is important for anyone while on their CRNA journey. An important coping mechanism for anyone is to have a strong support system. This is no different if you are a student nurse anesthetist. Your support system can offer encouragement, information, and offer assistance when needed. The presence of a support system can give you hope when you feel you have none in the tank. They can give you vision when you can’t see there is no other way.
Drop the impostor syndrome
You are finally in CRNA school! All your years of hard work and perseverance has paid off. You look around and see so many accomplished professors and peers. You may start to wonder why am I here? First off, just know you are not alone in your thinking. Probably each one of your classmates also will or have felt the same way. Comparing yourself to others is not helpful and can lead to negative effects such as depression, anxiety and mental health issues.
Whenever you begin to self-doubt think of all your accomplishments. Change your way of thinking by using positive affirmations such as “I deserve to be here” prior to starting CRNA school. If you recognize you might have impostor syndrome, seek out an advisor or mentor immediately. Do not let this fester. Also recognize you are a “student” and NOT expected to know everything. Try to embrace being a novice again and focus on getting one step closer to your goal of becoming a CRNA.
The bottom line
After celebrating your acceptance to CRNA school. Start working on the above tips prior to starting school if possible. Be as proactive as you can possibly be. Make a plan and get to work to become what you desire- a CRNA. My daily mantra was “trust the process” and everything else will work itself out.