Becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) is a long, complex process that involves years of experience and rigorous training. Students currently need to earn a master's degree in nursing to become a CRNA, but this will change in 2025 when the field requires all CRNAs to earn a doctorate to practice. The prerequisites candidates need to enter a CRNA program include:
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
- Active RN licensure in good standing
- At least one year of experience working as an RN in a critical care unit
- Related certifications
The exact requirements vary by school, but the programs are typically selective. The entire process of becoming a CRNA lasts approximately three years, and this is in addition to the four years a student spends earning a BSN and the year spent in the field before applying for a CRNA program.
CRNA students spend a lot of time and money to gain entry into a CRNA program, so facing disciplinary actions while in school can cause severe distress. The medical field places a significant emphasis on a practitioner's ethical and moral character, and any violations of codes of conduct or the law can limit a CRNA student's ability to earn a degree or practice in the future. If you face an allegation of academic or disciplinary misconduct in your CRNA program, contact an experienced student attorney right away.
Student Disciplinary Issues for CRNA Students and Other Fundamental Concerns
Many types of academic and disciplinary issues can arise during a CRNA's time in school that can affect their educational and professional futures. Some of these issues do not even involve allegations but instead reflect the failure of school faculty to manage the student's records accurately. Some of the serious problems CRNA students might face include:
- Academic misconduct violations
- Title IX sexual harassment claims
- Disciplinary violations
- Academic issues
- Professionalism concerns
- CRNA school remediation
- CRNA student appeals
- CRNA student dismissals
Every school handles these issues differently, so it is essential that each CRNA student understand their program's policies to know their rights and defend themselves against allegations.
Each school has a code of academic conduct they expect students to abide by, and infractions can lead to serious consequences such as suspension or even expulsion from a CRNA program. This could affect their future as a CRNA and their current registered nurse (RN) licensure. Violations of academic codes of conduct may include:
- Plagiarism of another person's work or your work from another course
- Colluding with other students to gain an unfair academic advantage
- Cheating in any way, including using unauthorized materials during a test or allowing other students to use your work as their own
- Fabrication of resources and information used in assignments and papers
- Violating the professional code of ethics specific to the school's CRNA program
In many cases, school administrators react to these allegations by suspending a student even before they have had a chance to defend themselves. This absence from a CRNA program can make it extremely difficult to catch up when you return, and the structure of the curriculum does not allow for much flexibility.
Academic dishonesty can happen for many reasons, and school administrators do not often consider the student's circumstances before suggesting a course of disciplinary action. If the student is dealing with personal issues such as a hectic work schedule, a lack of personal support, or medical concerns, they may find it challenging to keep up and make desperate decisions that do not affect their character.
Some incidents of alleged academic dishonesty occur at no fault of the student. For example, another student might accuse them of cheating without any evidence, and the investigation process can interfere with the ability of the accused to continue with the CRNA program.
Students sometimes commit academic infractions accidentally, as well. This frequently happens to CRNA students who have not been in an academic setting for a long time and forget how to cite their sources properly. Instructors often attribute honest mistakes like these to intentional plagiarism, and they can seriously affect the student's future.
If school administration offers you a less serious punishment than they originally suggested if you admit to committing the violation, contact a CRNA student attorney-advisor as soon as possible to make sure you understand all your options before making a decision.
Academic Misconduct Hearings
Just as academic codes of conduct vary by school, the process for academic hearings depends on each school's policies. Many schools have two different types of hearings depending on the seriousness of the violation and if the student has a history of academic dishonesty.
For first offenses or minor violations, schools often conduct a hearing consisting of a student board to determine the validity of the violation and suggest a sanction, such as a decreased grade on the assignment or in the class. More serious allegations or those for students who have academic dishonesty on their record may be handled by a board of faculty members, who discuss the situation at length before deciding whether to impose a sanction.
In both types of hearings, the student can attend and present their account for the board to consider. They can usually bring an attorney with them to help with this, which greatly benefits the student. Any hearing determinations that result in a sanction typically stay on the student's academic record permanently and can affect their chances of finding a job as a CRNA in the future.
Disciplinary Charges for CRNA Students
In addition to academic honesty violations, CRNA students can face disciplinary charges for many alleged behaviors. These can sometimes lead to criminal charges as well. Disciplinary charges that may affect CRNA students include, but are not limited to:
- Internet-related infractions, such as cyberstalking, hacking, or violations of the school's social media policies
- Drug or alcohol possession on campus or in unauthorized areas
- Destruction of school or student property
- Breaking and entering with or without property theft
- Sexual assault, including threats of rape
- Physical assault, such as battery or aggravated battery
Title IX Charges
Title IX charges are some of the most serious a CRNA student can face. They refer to violations of Title IX, part of the Education Amendments of 1972. This civil rights legislation prohibits sex discrimination at federally funded colleges and universities by faculty or students. Title IX charges may include:
- Gender discrimination
- Sexual harassment
- Sexist comments
- Sexual innuendos
- Aggressive sexual advances
- Dating violence
- Domestic violence
- Sexual assault
These are serious charges, and students found to have committed them should face serious consequences. However, just as there are protections for victims in place, the accused deserve to have legal protections in place before they have had a chance to defend themselves in court.
Title IX rules change regularly based on politics and who is in power. In 2020, the Trump administration introduced sweeping changes to Title IX that made it more difficult for schools to punish students accused of Title IX charges without due process. However, the political landscape continues to change, and students charged with Title IX violations should still contact an attorney-advisor to help them with their case.
Every school handles student criminal charges differently, but CRNA students can expect to face academic disciplinary sanctions if they are charged with a crime, even if the incident happened off-campus. Everyone makes mistakes, but even if the court dismisses your case, your school may still impose serious and permanent sanctions that can affect your ability to practice as a CRNA. These criminal charges may include:
- Driving under the influence
- Sexual assault or rape
- Domestic violence
- Unlawful possession of a weapon
- Prescription fraud
When courts do convict CRNA students of crimes, the students often face expulsion. In some cases, minor crimes CRNA students are accused of do not affect their ability to succeed professionally. However, these charges can remain on their permanent academic record and prevent them from becoming CRNAs. Additionally, they may lose their nursing license and ability to practice as a registered nurse (RN).
CRNA Student Academic Appeals
When CRNA students face academic or disciplinary sanctions, schools often act quickly and suspend the student before they have had a chance to defend themselves. They can also face harsh consequences if they fall behind in the program for legitimate reasons, such as disabilities or illness.
In some cases, the school may have a legal obligation to accommodate the student's needs. Regardless, if a CRNA student feels they received a low grade on an assignment or in a class or was suspended, put on probation, or expelled unfairly, they have a right to appeal the issue.
The process varies by school, but students often file an appeal with the faculty member that imposed the sanction and the Dean. The appeal should include substantial evidence that proves the student's case, which a student attorney-advisor can help them compile.
As registered nurses, CRNA students must abide by the Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice maintained by the American Nurses Association (ANA). CRNA students are also expected to reflect the professional qualities outlined in the Scope of Nurse Anesthesia Practice maintained by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA).
If a faculty member suspects that a student's behavior contradicts the rules of either standard of practice, they may bring up the issue with the student and attempt to resolve it. If the issue is severe or they cannot resolve it on their own, they may report the CRNA student to the school administration. It is important that the school attempt to resolve the situation before resorting to extreme measures like suspension or expulsion to give the student an opportunity to learn and improve.
CRNA Student Remediation
In some cases, CRNA student issues result in remediation. Remediation is the process of assisting students who have problems keeping up with the program requirements. CRNA program requirements are rigorous, and they should be. CRNAs are responsible for administering dangerous medications safely, and they do not have much room for error. However, everyone faces difficulties, and remediation can help prepare CRNAs to perform effectively and confidently in the field.
Remediation includes retaking certain parts of the CRNA program, such as an exam, course, semester, or year of school. They can be very beneficial to the student, but it is important that only students who need remediation are given these options. Otherwise, they can unnecessarily spend extra time and money in the CRNA program. This is especially problematic when students who should receive accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) face remediation instead.
CRNA Student Dismissals
Schools should only dismiss CRNA students in extreme circumstances, and the decision should not be made lightly. CRNA programs are challenging, and students often need time to adjust. Sometimes, events in life arise that are out of the student's control, such as family emergencies or financial issues.
CRNA administrators should be aware of the issues that affect a student before dismissing them from the program. In many cases, their academic struggles can be resolved if they have the resources to help them succeed. Unfortunately, school faculty members do not always consider this. By dismissing students unfairly, they can affect their futures as CRNAs and their careers as RNs.
CRNA Student Discipline Defense and Student Rights: Helping Clients Nationwide
CRNAs are among a prestigious community of medical providers, and students must work hard to receive admittance into CRNA programs. Students are held to a high standard, and they face academic and disciplinary sanctions if they do not abide by accepted nursing and CRNA program standards. Unfortunately, schools often abuse their authority when handling CRNA student issues, and students can face serious consequences that can permanently impact their futures.
If you're accused of misconduct or academic violations in a CRNA program, attorney Joseph D. Lento can help you defend your reputation and protect your future. Attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm have helped countless CRNA students across the United States overcome the various challenges that can arise on their journey to become nurse anesthetists, and he can do the same for you. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 for help with your case.