I must preface this post by saying I'm in favor of having as much acute care experience as possible before anesthesia school. Personally, I had 4.5 years of nursing experience before school- sicu, micu, trauma and neuro. However, on the heels of the recent study in the AANA Journal, December 2011--"Predictors of Situation Awareness in Student Registered Nurse Anesthetists," which seemed to indicate that cognition is more indicative/predictive of situation awareness than automaticity.

Without boring people with minutia, cognition was measured using an exam (Raven's SPM examination), and automaticity was measured by length of time in months RNs worked in the ICU.

Situation Awareness as defined by that article as "one's perception of elements of the environment, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status in the near future" My personal understanding of this is the ability to absorb complex information, i.e. the OR with your patient vital signs, anesthesia machine, people in the OR, monitors, noise and take in the multitudes of sensory inputs from all directions and block them out while focusing on the critical task at hand-GETTING YOUR PATIENT OUT OF SURGERY SAFELY.

That said, if automaticity is less predictive of situation awareness, does that diminish the argument for more than 1 year of acute care experience for anesthesia school? second, the vast majority of medical students have no clinical experience before heading to medical school. The last time I checked, they seem to be doing just fine. So is the argument for more acute care experience perception or evidenced based? I would love to hear your response.