UT Health San Antonio opens applications for region’s first nurse anesthetist program

Meeting critical demand for anesthesia services in underserved areas

Contact: Steven Lee, (210) 450-3823, lees22@uthscsa.edu

SAN ANTONIO, Dec. 19, 2023 – To help fill critical demand for anesthesia services, the UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing is starting a program that will prepare highly skilled nurse anesthetists, the first in South Texas.

The school is now 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 UT Health San Antonio 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 UT Health San Antonio 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 https://uthscsa.edu/nursing/programs/graduate/post-bsn-to-dnp-nurse-anesthesia. Deadline for applications for fall 2024 is March 1, 2024.



The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) is one of the country’s leading health science universities and is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. With missions of teaching, research, patient care and community engagement, its schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions, graduate biomedical sciences and public health have graduated more than 42,200 alumni who are leading change, advancing their fields and renewing hope for patients and their families throughout South Texas and the world. To learn about the many ways “We make lives better®,” UTHealthSA.org.

The UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing offers five academic programs, consisting of the BSN, DNP and PhD degrees and specialty certificates, and is dedicated to fostering diversity, equity and inclusion in the nursing profession. First-generation college students represent one-third of its enrollment. The School of Nursing also operates a growing patient-care practice that provides primary and acute care by nurse practitioners, both on campus and at a variety of community partner sites. To learn more, visit https://www.uthscsa.edu/academics/nursing.

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