By Trent Walter, MBA, MSN, CRNA – Chief CRNA Mid Atlantic Region
Once you are ready to make the transition from student (SRNA) to certified (CRNA), you can set yourself on a satisfying career path by considering some important factors before you choose your first job. As you’re making this important decision, speak with clinical preceptors and your faculty at the school. They may have valuable connections or refer you to someone who could help you get a job. People will be more eager to recommend you if you are well-liked and have a good attitude, so stay positive and remember, some great jobs come from simply being in the right place at the right time. Whether you apply to a hospital where you’ve worked in rotation or decide to work elsewhere, keep these five things in mind when searching for a job:
- Where do you want to live?
- Does the practice site offer professional growth opportunities?
- Does the site have active leaders and mentors?
- What is the total compensation?
- Who do you want to be as a professional?
Where do you want to live?
The first consideration must be location. Happiness begins in the home, so if you aren’t happy with the location little else will matter.
Does the practice site offer professional growth opportunities?
You may not be able to control every aspect of your job, but you can advocate for getting the types of cases or assignments that you enjoy and find fulfilling. There can be a vast range in the amount of autonomy that workplaces offer their clinicians. On your interview, get assurance that the leadership will support your growth with respect to any skills you bring, in addition to those you want to learn. In general, the more you demonstrate your talent and capabilities, the more autonomy you will earn—but be sure to maintain all your technical skills, as you never know where your next job will take you.
Does the site have active leaders and mentors?
This process is all about finding the right work environment and support where you can flourish. You’ll want to know who your potential co-workers are and get a sense of “the team.” You should know who the leaders of the department are when you leave an interview. Is the Chief CRNA valued as part of the leadership team? Leadership plays a significant role in organizational culture and your working environment. You will want to work alongside a leader who values the importance of nurturing your talent and takes an interest in your career growth.
Are there other CRNAs on staff that can be your mentors? Ask if it’s possible to speak with other members of the anesthesia team and ask them similar questions. Does the site have an orientation plan for new hires? In all jobs, but particularly your first, you must feel supported and have a team around you to help you grow.
What is the total compensation?
Take time to understand the value of benefits. All too often new graduates focus on what I call the “refrigerator number.” You must dig below the shiny object that is salary or hourly rate and fully understand the value of the benefits. What is the retirement plan and how much Paid Time Off (PTO) do I earn annually? How about medical, dental or life insurance? This is vitally important as you compare your options when looking for your first job as a CRNA.
Who do you want to be as a professional?
As you start your job search, take some time to write down your career goals. Who do you want to be as a CRNA? This being said, the question really is, “What does the complete CRNA look like to me?” These can include cases or skills in which you want to become proficient. If you have aspirations of leadership, then you will need to become a clinical expert so it truly begins the day you graduate. View your education as a foundation and the answer to this question determines the figurative house made up of your skills. Have this in mind as you begin your job hunt, and remember that you may not become complete in one job. This is just one of the factors in considering a job.
There are some things that you will only learn once you are in the interview. Take that opportunity to ask your interviewers how long they have worked there, why they stay, and what they like best and least about the company. The answers they give you will tell you much about what you need to know in order to make an informed decision. The more perspectives you can get from people working at a site, the more prepared you’ll be to decide if that site is right for you.
Any Questions about a career as a CRNA? Ask Trent now!