Region’s first nurse anesthetist program accepting applications

School of Nursing building

To help fill critical demand for anesthesia services, the School of Nursing is starting a program that will prepare highly skilled nurse anesthetists, the first in South Texas.

The school is accepting applications for the fall 2024 start of its BSN to DNP-Nurse Anesthesia program. (BSN is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and DNP is a Doctor of Nursing Practice.) At the end of the program and passage of the nurse anesthesia certification exam, these Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA), registered nurses with specialized training in anesthesia, will work with various medical practitioners – such as surgeons, dentists and podiatrists – providing all types of anesthesia services, including sedation, general and regional anesthesia, and pain management.

Alison R. Peterson, DNP, CRNA

Job opportunities for CRNAs are likely to be excellent as they will be in high demand, particularly in medically underserved areas such as inner cities and rural areas,” said Alison R. Peterson, DNP, CRNA, director of the CRNA program at the School of Nursing. “This is especially relevant in Texas, home to the largest rural population of any state. In rural areas, there sometimes is only one anesthesia provider for several counties.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that nurse anesthetist employment was expected to grow 17% from 2018 to 2028. And beginning this year, more than 50% of full-time CRNAs expect to retire from anesthesia practice, according to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists. Each year, there has been a steady increase in the number of candidates applying for positions in CRNA schools, greatly outnumbering available positions.

Currently, the next-closest CRNA programs are in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, and there are only four in the state. Interest here already is building, with 130 potential applicants attending the first information session the day applications opened on Dec. 7.

The nurse anesthesia program takes three years and is a full-time commitment, spanning 108 credit hours and designed to integrate nursing science, ethics and biophysical, psychosocial and analytical knowledge. The program aims to provide students with the necessary skills and knowledge to offer safe, individualized and culturally competent anesthesia care across all age groups.

It also places a strong emphasis on advocating for anesthesia practices that promote social justice and equity, while also leading interdisciplinary teams to develop, evaluate and use evidence-based guidelines that affect anesthesia health care processes, quality, safety and cost.

To enter, requirements include a BSN degree from an accredited program, current license as a registered nurse (RN) in Texas or a compact license with multi-state privileges that includes Texas, minimum of one year of work experience as an RN in critical care (with two years preferred) and other academic and certification qualifications.

“Upon completion of the program, students will be well-equipped to make a positive impact on the field of anesthesia and improve patient outcomes,” Peterson said.

CRNAs are highly educated and skilled anesthesia experts who provide specialized care to patients throughout their lifespan and for every type of procedure,” said Sara L. Gill, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor and associate dean for graduate studies of the School of Nursing. “With their extensive knowledge, expertise in anesthesia and critical care nursing, CRNAs ensure that patients receive a safe, comfortable anesthesia experience.”

For more information on the CRNA program at the UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing, including how to apply, go to Deadline for applications for fall 2024 is March 1, 2024.

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