Nurse Anesthesia FAQs

Nurse Anesthesia FAQs

What does your school accept for "Critical Care Experience"?

The program requires all applicants to have one full year of ICU experience in order to be invited to interview with the Program Administrators.  Critical care experience must be obtained in a critical care area within the United States, its territories, or a U.S. military hospital outside of the United States.  A critical care area is defined as one where, on a routine basis, the registered professional nurse manages one or more of the following: invasive hemodynamic monitors (such as pulmonary artery catheter, CVP, arterial); cardiac assist devices; mechanical ventilation; and vasoactive drips.  The critical care areas include intensive care units.  Those who have experience in other areas may be considered provided they can demonstrate competence with invasive monitoring, ventilators, and critical care pharmacology.

Surgical or Cardiac ICUs are preferred and Pediatric ICU in a large Children’s Hospital is also acceptable.  ER experience must be in a large trauma center in order to be considered.  PACU experience would only be considered if the critically ill patients (Open heart, neuro, AAA’s etc.) do not go directly to ICU after surgery.  During this experience, the applicant nurse is to have developed critical decision making and psychomotor skills, competency in patient assessment, and the ability to use and interpret advanced monitoring techniques.  

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Do I need to take GRE exams, or MAT (Miller Analogies Test) for admission and what score would I need?

Applicants to the DNP Nurse Anesthesia program who earned a cumulative BSN grade point average (GPA) of 3.4 or greater on a 4.0 scale are not required to submit GRE test results.  Applicants who earned a GPA of less than 3.4 must submit GRE test results.

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Describe for me what the program is “really” like?

The first 2 semesters are spent completing DNP core course requirements.  Clinical rotations begin in the Fall of the first year.  When clinical rotations begin, students have frequent classes on many topics during the day and Villanova DNP core courses in the evening 1-2 days a week (If a student does not elect to take any core courses, beforehand). This makes for a busy schedule. Some weeks students might have 2-3 anesthesia exams, papers, presentations, lectures, and other projects. The clinical rotations begin 2 days per week in November and class is held the other 3 days per week.  By June of the 2nd year, clinical rotations are 4 days per week and class is one day per week.  Students begin clinical rotations with basic cases, focusing on learning and implementing the basics of a proper room setup, anesthesia machine checks, and developing an anesthetic plan of care. Different students many have different workloads. The DNP project courses begin in the Spring of the second year and continue until the summer of the third year, when students will focus on board preparation. Students eventually master the art of time management and find a balance for themselves between school, clinical, and personal life.

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What are some ways that students finance their education?

Financial aid, loans, scholarships (Sigma Theta Tau,) Nurse Anesthesia traineeships, hospital subsidies are available to those that are eligible.

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Will I be allowed to work a nursing job while I am attending Anesthesia school?

We STRONGLY discourage students from working after clinical rotations begin. However, some students work as an RN on a limited basis with their local hospital or with local staffing agencies early in the program while DNP core classes are taken.  If students opt to take cores courses ahead of time, then we expect they will be able to continue working until the clinical rotations being in the Fall of the first year.

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What does my deposit cover? Is it refundable?

The deposit is nonrefundable. It is used to support the educational needs of the program.

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When do we begin clinical rotations, and how long do they last?

Clinical rotations begin in November of the first year. The first rotation is for 7 months to ensure consistency while you learn basic concepts. After the initial rotation, all other rotations are between 1 to 6 months at a time. You will gain exposure to different facilities, providers, patient populations, and anesthesia techniques.

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Can I do a clinical rotation located near my home?

Not always. We try our best to accommodate students but it is not always possible. Most of our clinical sites are within an hour drive from CCMC. The sites in the Hershey, Lancaster and Lehigh areas are for the students from those areas.

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I have my Bachelor's degree in an area other than nursing. Can I apply for admission to the program?

Not to this program. We currently only accept applicants with a BSN degree.

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How many applicants do you have each year?

On average, we process 80 to 100 applications. Only the most qualified applicants who meet or exceed application criteria are invited to an interview. We interview approximately 50 to 60 qualified applicants for 24 spots.

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Will I be required to attend any regional and national anesthesia conferences and workshops?

Yes. Our students are expected to attend one state meeting a year. The state meetings are a great opportunity to network with other nurse anesthesia students and providers as well as meet with local recruiters and vendors. The nurse anesthesia program area also conducts various workshops for the students. Students are encouraged, but not required to attend the annual national AANA meeting. The national conference include many recruiters from all over the country, a trade show, social functions, and opportunity to network with other anesthesia students and providers.

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If I am admitted, can I start taking classes before the program actually begins?

It is highly recommended that you take between 10 and 19 nursing DNP core credits prior to beginning the anesthesia program. Some DNP core courses are web-based. This allows students to work up until clinical rotations begin and generally, eases the workload during the clinical portion of the program.

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Does the School of Anesthesia have a patient simulator?

Yes, we have a high-fidelity patient simulator with an anesthesia machine and related equipment. The simulation lab is located on our Villanova campus. Anesthesia students will have numerous opportunities to learn using the simulation lab throughout the program.  Introductory modules have been designed to facilitate the integration of didactic material with basic clinical skills.  Advanced modules include advanced airway management, obstetric anesthesia, regional anesthesia, anesthesia for pediatrics, cardiac anesthesia and crisis resource training.

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Do your graduates have a hard time finding jobs?

No. Our students generally rotate to 5 to 7 different clinical sites and therefore, have a great exposure to many CRNAs and anesthesiologists. These clinical sites often recruit them well before graduation. All of our students have jobs before graduation.  There is no guarantee that jobs will be available in the local market upon your graduation.  There are plenty of jobs nationwide, and students may need to relocate to those areas.

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My family and I might have to relocate so I can attend Anesthesia School. Any tips on where I can look?

Check out our Anesthesia links section for links to the some Philadelphia area web sites where you can learn more about our thriving region and what it offers.

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Additional information

More questions and answers about a career in Nurse Anesthesia can be found on the AANA website.

My View

"Villanova has an excellent reputation within the anesthesia community for the education and experience they provide their CRNA students and has an extremely competitive tuition. Besides having a beautiful and new nursing building, they utilize cutting edge technology, life-like simulation lab experiences, and experienced staff to teach and guide the students.  Villanova is affiliated with clinical sites that span from southern Delaware to New Jersey and many Pennsylvania locations to provide convenience as well as various experiences to all the students.  

I am proud to belong to this program and highly recommend it to anyone looking for an amazing educational experience."

Valerie Ross

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