Applying to CRNA programs: Fact vs. Fiction

By Tanner A. Gelatt, Assistant Director of Graduate Recruitment 

Nurse anesthetist programs are very competitive.

This is no surprise, as there is a growing need for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) across the country. With high demand but limited spaces, it’s crucial to deliver your best graduate school application.

Here are four common facts and fictions to help you navigate the application process for UB SON's Nurse Anesthetist Program.  

You need a 4.0 to get into UB SON’s CRNA program: Fiction.

While GPA is very important, and we will not consider students who do not meet our minimum GPA, students do not need a 4.0 to get into our program. Our 2022 cohort had an average overall GPA of 3.43 and an average nursing GPA of 3.59. Current undergraduate students should not assume that they need to earn an A in every course. You should always strive for the best grade possible – but don’t let a B discourage you from applying!  

Students must have ICU experience to get into UB SON's CRNA program: Fact.

UB’s program has a strict requirement that applicants must have one full year of US-based ICU experience. That year starts after your orientation period in the ICU. You also need to complete that year by the time of application, not the time that you will start the program. 

While we have a strict requirement for the length of experience, we do not have a requirement regarding the ICU type. The most important aspect of your ICU experience is your knowledge of ICU protocols. For example, a student who has been in one ICU for 18 months likely has a stronger foundation than a student who has been in four different ICUs in 18 months. 

Having a graduate-level course under your belt is the “magic bullet” to getting into a program: Fiction.

There is no magic bullet for getting into a CRNA program. While having a graduate nursing course completed before starting the program will help you in the application process, it will not guarantee your acceptance. In fact, 85% of our 2021 and 2022 cohorts had never taken a graduate course before starting their program.  

Letters of recommendation are vitally important to a good application: Fact.

Letters of recommendation (LOR) are extremely important in the review process! We read and take your LORs very seriously. What is not true is that they need to come from the most senior leadership in your hospital system. Students often think that they need to have letters from the chief medical officer, head of anesthesiology and chief nursing officer – but unless you actually know these individuals, they won’t do you much good. Your LORs need to come from graduate-prepared individuals that really know you and your work. They need to attest to your accomplishments and abilities. It’s very easy to tell if your recommender knows you. 

We know that the nurse anesthetist program admission process can be challenging and, at times, overwhelming. This is intentional – as the program itself is demanding and intensive. But if you plan properly and focus on your end result, you can make the process much more manageable.

Questions about our Nurse Anesthetist Program? Attend a Graduate Programs Information Session to learn more!

Published August 2, 2022