The Juggling Act: SEE, Capstone, and the NCE, as per Dr. Charnelle Lewis, DNP, CRNA, Graduate, University of Buffalo Nurse Anesthesia Program

CRNA school requires a significant amount of self-determination and motivation.   There are many layers to school that include didactic work, clinical rotations, exams and a capstone project.

This 4-layer cake, as delicious as it sounds, is best eaten with small bites of each layer together.  It can be tempting to tackle it all at once, or even save a couple layers for the end. Savoring each bite, scheduling out time for each layer on a daily basis from the beginning, provides you with a satisfying dessert course throughout your doctorate program.

The SEE or self-evaluation exam is a voluntary examination that many schools require.  It is a 240-question exam that covers basic sciences, anesthesia equipment, general principles of anesthesia practice and anesthesia for surgical procedures and special populations.   

The NCE (national certification examination) is the real deal – the final board exam you must take (and pass) to become a CRNA.  The examination topics mirror that of the SEE, with a larger focus on general principles and anesthesia for surgical procedures and special populations.

From the beginning of my program, I began to take little chunks of that 4-layer CRNA cake.  Beginning with the basics, daily review of the materials helped me to stay on top of the didactic work, while simultaneously providing me with a framework for my upcoming clinical rotations and practice for my board exams.  

At the same time, I was constantly researching topics that piqued my interest that I would further explore as a potential DNP capstone project.  Each day I took a different focus.  Mondays were class and capstone project days, with Tuesday through Friday being clinical and prep days, and the weekends I did longer study sessions.

This “CRNA cake” can be broken down into these 4 layers: concentrate, rehearse, nurture and attestation.

C – concentrate.

I had to concentrate on what I needed to do that day, while still having a plan for the week, month and year.   At times it was easy to get ahead of myself, but make sure you sit down at the beginning of the program and plan what you’re going to tackle and when.

R – rehearse.

Rehearsing the information is key.  I’m not talking about rote, last-minute cramming memorization, but rehearsing or reviewing the information on a daily basis will allow you to store that memory long term.  Rehearsing also happens in clinical, when you’ll be verbally challenged with the information that you’ve learned in class.

N – nurture.

The nurturing comes when you take that information and encourage the growth of it.  I made it a point to go beyond knowing facts, but understanding the “why” behind what I was learning.  This “deeper” learning goes a long way to being able to not just know the information, but have the ability to apply it on a higher level.

A – attestation.

Attestation comes when you’re sitting for that exam and realize that because of your preparation, it feels “easy” to you.  Because you started early, utilized your time wisely and consistently built that knowledge through concentration, rehearsing and nurturing, you’re fully ready to attest with confidence that you can safely administer and manage a diversity of anesthesia cases.

Yes, you can have your cake, and eat it too.

And, from an Instagram Post: Two men on a mission to become a doctorate prepared CRNA: Everett Moss (accepted into Emory University), and Chuncey Ward (Union University)

As per Everett: 
First I would like to take a moment to thank Dr. @lenagould. Her work to support and increase #diversity in the CRNA field is phenomenal and through my attendance of the mentor workshop, I met my accepting program director.  Dr. Gould has been a CRNA Mother/Mentor to many of us and your work does not go unnoticed and is appreciated beyond what words can express.  THANK YOU! Next up. I met this guy at the mentor workshop in Augusta last year.  This has to be the smilingest’ cat I know. That being said @nursechuuuncey has been in the trenches working toward his goal to become a future CRNA and currently attends Union University as a #SRNA This brother and I have a few things in common; @lenagould / love of #Jordans / #pearlywhites / and CRNA #GOALS.We have discussed another common interest and that’s showing young men in our communities that HARD WORK AND DEDICATION CAN CHANGE YOUR DESTINATION!! ~ Everett Moss, SRNA 

Special note: This is how the professional socialization start for nurses of color interested in nurse anesthesia, particularly, for Black men. Both of them met at a Diversity CRNA Info Session & Airway Sim Lab at Augusta University. Now, Everett can network with Chuncey and other male nurse anesthesia students from different programs and CRNAs to decrease significantly social isolation and continued Mentorship through their own journey ~ Dr. Lena Gould, EdD, CRNA, FAAN 

Did you Know?

By 2025, all graduate nurse anesthesia programs are mandated to convert to clinical doctorate programs. Doctor in Nurse Practice programs are in Schools of Nursing. Doctor in Nurse Anesthesia Practice are in Health Profession Schools and Colleges of Medicine.

These are Sample DNP Nurse Anesthesia Programs: 

Emory University
University of Miami 
Augusta University 
Texas Christian University 

These are Sample DNAP Nurse Anesthesia Programs: 
Mount Marty College 
Virginia Commonwealth University 
Webster University 

Nurses need to read carefully of GRE requirement (within 5 years) and some programs are not requiring the GRE Exam, CCRN, shadowing experience, and letters of references from those who can attest to clinical work ethic. Please note, both programs will culminate in a doctorate scholarly project and eligibility to pass NCE or CRNA boards.

Wallena Gould, EdD, CRNA, FAAN
Founder & CEO
Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program 

Congratulations are in order for Dr. Nathaly Palacios, DNP, CRNA who recently graduated from Chatham University! Also, she is a former Corporal in the United States Marine, Board Member of the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program and an Independent CRNA!

Dr. Palacios‘ DNP scholarly project was on Instituting an Information Session about Epidurals Prior to Labor. 
As per Dr. Palacios
Yesterday, I did something that to be honest, I only dreamt about. I graduated with my doctorate degree. This year has taught me so much. I let go of toxic relationships, began nurturing healthy ones, and for once,made no excuses for the people in my life. I only had one person who attended my graduation with me, but that’s all I needed. Thanks to everyone that supported me and a special thanks to Kim Kimble for the consistent advice and mentorship through the school year. To the person that attended this graduation for me, this really meant the world to me.

Congratulations to Dr. Kenicia Adams-Strong, DNP, CRNA, who recently graduated from Saint Vincent College/Excela Health School of Anesthesia

Dr. Adams-Strong‘s Doctorate in Nurse Practice scholarly project title: Promotion of Minority Representation and Inclusion in Advanced Practice Nursing Specialties.  Seven years ago, as a critical care nurse, she attended a Diversity CRNA Information Session & Airway Simulation Lab. Then, was accepted into Excela Health School of Anesthesia. Today, she is a proud DNP graduate! BRAVO!