Kaitlyn Brown BSN, RN, CCRN
Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville
Graduation Date: May, 2019

Nursing Background

Prior to beginning anesthesia school, I worked for 3 years in the intensive care unit. I completed this experience in Kansas City at Research Medical Center’s 32-bed Medical and Surgical Trauma ICU. I felt that it prepared me well for anesthesia school because of the great variety of patients I cared for; from traumas to strokes, to post-cardiac bypass to dialysis, I was able to see many different types of patients and learn about important aspects of their care. I also picked up extra shifts working with burn patients on the Burn Unit. 



I earned my undergraduate nursing degree from Southeast Missouri State University in 2013, graduating summa cum laude and first in my class. During my time in the SEMO Nursing Program, I served as the President of the Missouri Student Nurses Association and won the March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Rising Star Award.  

I am currently honored to serve as the SIUE Student Representative to the IANA Board of Directors. I was blessed enough to be awarded the Palmer Carrier Scholarship from the AANA Foundation. I am competing in the Anesthesia College Bowl at the AANA Annual Congress in Boston in September and cannot wait! Wish me luck!

Why I chose to become a CRNA

During my senior year of nursing school, I rotated through the Operating Room for 10 weeks. One shift  early in my rotation, a man I now consider a mentor on my path to CRNA school welcomed me to the head of the surgical bed, stating he wanted to show me what it was he did. As he began discussing the machinery and monitors, the medications and patient care, I was enthralled. For many of my shifts in the OR I worked with this man, and he introduced me to the other CRNAs in his group, many of which also enjoyed inviting me to the head of the bed and fostering my knowledge of the profession.  After a few weeks of working with him, he told me I should consider looking for a position in an ICU after graduation, work there for a few years, and strongly consider applying to CRNA school. I was honored he would say such a thing, and though it all seemed so far away, I began working toward just that.

A Little Bit About my Anesthesia Program

I attend Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. My Anesthesia Program awards a Doctor of Nursing Practice with a specialization in Nurse Anesthesia. Many programs have transitioned away from a Master’s program to a Doctorate, including all of the Illinois nurse anesthesia programs. 

Our class size is 24 people. The first year of our program is didactic only, taking place entirely in the classroom and a large amount of studying outside of it. Years 2 and 3 of our program combine classroom education and many hours in the clinical setting at hospitals across Illinois and Missouri. We visit a variety of clinical sites, including rural sites in which CRNAs practice independently, large teaching hospitals in which CRNAs and Anesthesiologists work together, and medium-sized facilities with a variety of anesthesia care models. There is a significant amount of traveling associated with attending this program, some clinical sites being 2-3 hours away, but I know it is preparing me well to work in a great variety of settings. 

A little about myself

I am a recent newlywed and enjoy spending time with my husband and two dogs, Bear and Charley. I love to read, volunteer at dog shelters, and take part in physical activities, including skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating. After completing anesthesia school, I am excited to travel the world with my husband!

Advice for Those Interested in Becoming a CRNA 

Plan, plan, plan! CRNA programs all seem to place emphasis on at least a few slightly different things. Some schools require you to take Organic chemistry before admission, some require Physics, some require neither, while some require both. Additionally, some require the nurse to have their CCRN (Critical Care Registered Nurse) Certification, while others place more emphasis on the GRE. Whatever you do, make sure you are aware of these long before you wish to apply. When I graduated from my undergraduate nursing program, well aware I was interested in anesthesia, I made a Word document of all of the schools I was interested in possibly applying to in the future with a list of their requirements under each. It helped me to stay organized, plan on what classes I needed to take while working in the ICU, and what documents I needed to gather when it came time to apply. Plan, and be prepared to study!

What is a CRNA? 

A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) is a nurse that has received their Master’s or Doctorate with an emphasis in anesthesia. They typically have at least 2 years of experience working in an intensive care unit when they return to school to study anesthesia. 

CRNAs provide anesthesia in the operating room, on labor and delivery floors, in surgery centers, in doctor’s offices, dentist offices, and more. This anesthesia can include inducing an anesthetic in which the patient goes all the way to sleep for the procedure and is free of all sensation during it, or it could include conscious sedation, an epidural, or a peripheral nerve block that numbs a particular part of the body for a procedure. A CRNA may practice independently or with anesthesiologists depending on the specific hospital he or she works at.