UAMS College of Nursing Approved for Nurse Anesthesia Specialty Program

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has received approval from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education for a nurse anesthesia specialty in the College of Nursing’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

The UAMS Council of Deans and the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees previously approved the program. The College of Nursing will now focus on hiring a program director this summer and submitting an application to the Council on Accreditation this fall for initial accreditation of the program.

“The need for nurse anesthetists continues to rise and our region has few options for students to gain the necessary education,” said Patricia A. Cowan, PhD, RN, dean of the College of Nursing. “This program would allow UAMS to meet a specific healthcare and educational need for the state and surrounding area.”

UAMS would become only the second Arkansas university to offer nurse anesthesia training and the first in central Arkansas.

Jill Mhyre, MD, chair of the UAMS College of Medicine’s Department of Anesthesiology, said the program would help address a shortage of certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA) and promote superior healthcare.

“This program will place an emphasis on clinical practice leadership training, so graduates will have skills to work effectively with anesthesiologists to deliver safe anesthesia care, but will also be prepared to continuously improve services over time to better meet the needs of our population,” said Mhyre. “That fosters a model that provides more efficient care for patients.”

The proposed curriculum would require students to attend full-time for three years, completing 95.5 credit hours over nine semesters. Upon completion, the DNP graduates would sit for the national certification exam and apply for licensure as an advanced practice registered nurse in nurse anesthesia.

“We have seen great interest from healthcare centers across the state willing to serve as clinical training sites for students in our program,” said Cowan. “This support shows our program is needed and can serve an important role in Arkansas.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nurse anesthetist occupation is expected to grow 16 percent through 2026, faster than average job growth. Nurse anesthetists are employed in a variety of healthcare settings, including physician’s offices, hospitals, and outpatient centers.