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  • Writer's pictureBrittany B Harvey

Year 1 Recap of Anesthesia School

What does one year of anesthesia school bring?

Expectedly, I fell behind on blog posts about two semesters into CRNA school. I'm not sure if it was the selfishness of preferring to sleep or the ominous "no end in sight" feeling. I can still remember sitting in class with my fellow first year SRNAs (student registered nurse anesthetists). We were stressing about every test, every paper, every quiz... freaking out if we, heaven forbid, made below a 92. Those disappointments seems so small now that I've been in my rotations for a year. But before I dive in too deep, let me refresh you.

First off, I'm in a front-loaded doctorate program (DNP). This means it's 3 years long, or also defined as 9 semesters: 3 fall, 3 summer, 3 spring. I started in May 2016 and my expected graduation date is May 2019. Being front-loaded means we spend the first 5 semesters in the classroom (including simulation lab). At the start of semester 6, we are 4 days a week in the OR with 1 day per week in the classroom. About halfway through semester 6, we bump up to 5 days a week in the OR. As for my classes, since my program is a doctorate, we are required to take additional upper level classes with all the nursing doctoral students, for instance nurse practitioner students. These classes are all online and are often referred to as "DNP" classes by most anesthesia programs. They are not anesthesia-related classes. For example, our first year in school we spend 2-3 days/week on campus for our anesthesia classes. Off campus, we work on the "DNP" classes on our own schedule through the college's online portal, called Blackboard. These "DNP" classes are not taught by our anesthesia faculty, but by a separate group of doctorate-level nurse educators through the college of nursing. It's a little complicated, I know. It almost feels like you are enrolled in two different programs because they are completely different; however, it's required if you want to graduate with your doctorate degree.

So what about year 1?

Year 1 was by far the EASIEST year I've had in anesthesia school. I started off with a very relaxed summer semester- MedPhys and Health Policy (DNP class). MedPhys consisted of mainly chemistry and physics, while integrating anesthesia and gas laws. Health policy is as titled, learning the details of how health policies are created and implemented.

After two short months, I moved into the fall semester. This semester definitely picked up with 4 classes- Advanced Anatomy, Roles 1, Theory and Philosophy (DNP class), and Anesthesia Pharmacology 1. Honestly, the biggest headache from this fall semester was the Theory and Philosophy class. Not because it was necessarily hard, but it seemed as though we were writing to appease graders, rather than writing our true interpretation of the covered content. On top of that, we had several different graders which led to subjective and inconsistent grading. You can imagine the amount of frustration we were all feeling as type A, overachieving students. Advanced Anatomy was painfully time consuming, but extremely helpful once rotations started. I enjoyed this class more than any other class in anesthesia school- partly because we had a young professor with a natural passion for teaching. Anatomy has actually helped me more in my rotations than any other anesthesia class. If you understand human anatomy, the rest will come. Pharm 1 was pretty basic, but it gave us the smallest taste of anesthesia... which we were all longing for since starting the program. We focused a good bit on locals, pH, pka, etc. Overall, "Roles" is a class surrounding the history of nurse anesthetists and the politics of the profession. Roles 1 centered around our history, building a CV, and professional organizations (state and national).

The spring semester was our first true introduction into anesthesia. It consisted of Physiology and Pathology, Roles 2, Biostatistics and Epidemiology (DNP class), Methods 1 (DNP class), and Anesthesia Pharmacology 2. Methods was our starter class for our massive research portfolio which progresses as we continue through DNP classes within the program. Biostats and Epidemiology was the other "DNP" class for the semester and comprised of weekly assignments within excel templates and quizzes revolving around epidemiology. Roles 2 continued to focus on the politics surrounding our profession. We would present on various topics, such as medicare reimbursement, Opt-in/Opt-out states, etc. Anesthesia Pharmacology 2 focused on anesthesia medications from inhalation agents to paralytics to alpha agonists and so on. Physiology and Pathology was our big anesthesia class for the semester. Every week we concentrated on a specific system within in the body and learned everything as it related to anesthesia. This class was the most time consuming of the semester, but definitely the most enjoyable. Mainly because our professor would whip out her colorful dry-erase markers and off to art class we went!

Reflecting back on my first year... it truly has flown by. When you sit down and ponder applying to CRNA school, often times we focus on this "3 year sacrifice" in big bold letters... but honestly, the time is going to pass either way. You might as well be investing in your 3 year future. It has been worth every tear, every penny, every headache. It has all been worth it! If you are thinking about applying, you already made the first step by researching. You can do this!

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