We all know CRNA school is extremely competitive. The average percentage of those who get accepted to those who apply is about 10%. Yikes. So how can you possibly stand out amongst thousands of qualified applicants across the country? I mean what more can you do, you’ve got your critical care experience, your CCRN, taken your pre-reqs and tests. What else?
I want to share with you my journey, and how I believe you can stand out OUTSIDE of the above qualifications when applying to CRNA school. Cause guess what. All the other thousands got those too sweetie.
As a side note, I really am not qualified to give recommendations about CRNA interview panels and how they decide between candidates. I have never been on a CRNA school interview panel. This blog post is truly my opinion and nothing more, so take what you want out of it. Carry on.
I got accepted into CRNA school on the first try. I applied to one school, one time. And why would I do that? Wouldn’t you wanna apply to several schools to boost your chances? Nah I’m good. Cause guess what. I knew I would get in.
GAGGG at that cockiness right. I mean honestly. But there’s a difference between cockiness and confidence. I was confident that I would get in on the first try. Why? Well I had been working towards this since high school! I’ve had the knowledge since that age of the CRAZY IMPORTANCE of a resume. And work ethic. Did I say work ethic?
So you might be saying to yourself well of course I have a good work ethic. I’ve been on this unit for years! I precept… I bust my ass at work caring for my patients… well, that’s expected yes. I’m talking about what you are doing OUTSIDE OF WORK. Ok maybe you’re on a committee at work. That’s a nice bullet to add to your resume, yes. But AGAIN. I truly mean outside of work.
If I’m reviewing your resume, and I see a work-based committee, great! But in the back of my mind you know what else I’m thinking? That could possibly be an easy “resume boost.” Some facilities allow you to clock in for these meetings… how do I know you truly care about this committee, versus did you need the extra cash? And if it was volunteer, were you trying to use those hours to level up at work for a raise? Trying to get on better terms with management to get better patients? Who knows! I don’t mean to tear down those of you doing this, especially those of you doing it with good intentions (hell, I’ve done it too for the selfish reasons, who hasn’t?). But. I am showing you my thought process if I were to take a look at your resume and see that. Eh. Not suuuuper super impressed. A lot of people have this on there. I don’t think this is something that would make you TRULY stand out and make you unique.
On my last CRNA school post I focused more on the broad and general check offs in regards to getting into school. Remember everyone’s path is completely different, and I think it’s important to see more detailed stories as well. I’m going to expand on my above conversation as well as tell you what you can possibly add to your resume to stand out even more. Don’t get intimidated with what I had on my resume below and think that you need all of that to get into CRNA school. But I do want to give you guys examples of extraordinary and unique resume additions if you’re struggling with, “what else can I do?” Here’s a peek into what I had on my resume when I applied.
Let’s go back to Marissa in high school. I knew I wanted to go into anesthesia at that time in my life.
So here’s my resume extra credit bullet #1:
Junior year of high school I went on a medical mission trip to Honduras, shadowed an anesthesiologist for an entire week straight. And it was great cause hey, you can do a lot more out of the country shadowing than keeping it domestic. I had an awesome experience.
So much so that I returned to do it again my senior year. Another extra credit point. This shows consistency as well as demonstrated my passion for the trip, the mission, and the anesthesia experience. Again, a one time trip is amazing 100%. I just reallyyyy want to get nitty gritty with this post in regards to how I look at resumes, and maybe how schools can interpret them. I really want to help you guys become overachievers, because standing out truly is your acceptance letter.
So is going to another location in addition.
So my third extra credit resume point was my medical mission trip to Haiti while in nursing school. I’m not going to expand much more on this cause I’ve listed my 3 trips and want to move on. Now don’t go planning mission trips to boost your resume cause that’s not gonna benefit anyone. I am in love with travel and in love with mission trips. This was something I felt in my heart I was truly called to do and will continue to do. If you don’t like travel or the conditions are too much for you, there are many many other options to stand out OF COURSE, I’m just listing what I did.
Extra credit bullet point #4:
This one may be my biggest one. I was a board member for the local AACN chapter for 3 years. Length of time = commitment. Volunteer hours and no pay = passion. Board position = leadership.
You’re probably wondering how and what in the world I’m talking about. In short, AACN stands for the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and if you’re not familiar with that as an ICU nurse well then you need to be… and I’ll direct you to their website here. This is the national professional organization for critical care nurses. This is a big deal. This is the organization associated with the CCRN.
So how did I get involved? While the AACN is a national organization, there are scattered local chapters across the US in a ton of locations. (I’ll link them here so you can search if there is a local chapter by you). “But what if I’m a nursing student still?!” No matter. Most, if not all, of these chapters welcome students. There’s your ticket in.
Students are able to help board members with simple tasks, and help spread the word to their school about the chapter’s local events like fundraisers, conferences, etc. At least in my chapter, a LOT of these student volunteers got hired into the ICU… Who do you think is on the board of these local chapters? Um, people that have an “in” with hiring decisions at all of your surrounding hospitals. Ka-ching! #networking
So if you’re not a student but you’re a nurse. Great! Same above goes. I didn’t know about this as a student but was told about it when I was hired as a new grad into the ICU. I was curious and decided to show up to a board meeting to see what it was all about. Things like this are uncomfortable! I went in as a new grad nurse to a room full of ICU nurses with 30+ years of experience. They noticed this. And I think they had a lot of respect for me to show up by myself, knowing I was basically a nobody in there. I didn’t have much to offer other than passion for critical care, and this was seen very quickly.
So much so, that I was running for a chair position within two months. Like HELLO I’m barely learning what a ventilator was at the time and here I am joining a group of very sophisticated and experienced nurses. The board actually told me I should apply. I took on the role of marketing for the board. Which was absolutely perfect right because being young, I transformed their email marketing, Facebook page, made everything actually…marketable. And I loved doing it so I stayed on for 3 years before I moved out of the state.
I can’t recommend being involved like this enough. I think this was a major selling point for me to get into school.
I know this is a loooong post, congrats if you’ve made it this far! There’s just so much important detail I want to point out if you’re seriously considering applying to school, or are having a hard time getting in. You can do this!! Two more extra credit points and we’re done!
Extra credit point #5:
Publication. Ooof. I know I know. So I had 3 publications on my resume.
First one was from my senior year of nursing school. There was an option that if you wanted to graduate with honors, you would take an additional course and work the entire year on a project of your choosing that you would eventually publish. I did a systematic review of the literature regarding epidural analgesia knowing I would be applying for CRNA school years from then.
Second and third publications were through Bold Voices, one of the journals by the AACN. My first one was my biggest one, “Being New in the ICU” and the second was a Q&A about social media in nursing.
You may think well yeah you’re a blogger thats why. Not necessarily. They encourage anyone to submit their experience! It looks like this below in the journal. How cool would it be if you added a publication to your resume? Completely possible.
Extra credit point #6 (LAST ONE!):
AACN’s annual national critical care conference (NTI).
I’ll keep this one short cause you’ve stuck around for awhile and I’ll link the info here if you’re interested. NTI happens every year in a different state, and ICU nurses from across the country gather for a week-long conference filled with ICU education, networking, and a giant vendor expo. Those vendor expos also include reps from most CRNA schools, so how cool if you could meet someone from your dream school and hand em’ a resume you just happened to have in your bag. Going to these conferences truly shows your passion for critical care and will be noticed.
I’m gonna stop there, that was a lot of info, but I hope it was helpful! In addition to that, in case anyone is interested, I had a 3.5 GPA, CCRN, 6 years of ICU experience before applying, and that experience was in all ICUs (CV, surgical, medical, neuro, trauma). While this definitely isn’t necessary, I’m glad I have such broad experience going in. Additionally, I was a preceptor and educator at my first hospital in the ICU, and took care of all devices possible (totally not necessary, devices are irrelevant to CRNAs, so don’t focus so much on devices. I get this question a lot). Don’t tell yourself you’re not going to get in if you don’t have the above things on your resume, because that is completely not the case. In fact, I’m pretty sure most of the accepted students don’t have most of these at all on their resume. I simply am giving you ideas on possible badass additions to your resumes that make it stand out from the rest and get you admitted!
I wish you all the best!! Comment below with any questions and good luck!!