MACON – The Council on Accreditation for Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs recently accredited a nurse anesthetist program developed by Mercer University's School of Medicine and The Medical Center of Central Georgia. The two institutions teamed up to address the severe shortage of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) throughout the country.
Nurse anesthetists administer approximately 65 percent of anesthetics given to patients in the United States, and are the sole anesthesia providers in more than two-thirds of rural hospitals.
CRNAs provide anesthetics to patients in collaboration with surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists, podiatrists and other qualified healthcare professionals.
Additionally, nurse anesthetists administer approximately 65 percent of anesthetics given to patients in the United States, and are the sole anesthesia providers in more than two-thirds of rural hospitals. Of the 30,000 nurse anesthetists in the United States, 800 are in Georgia.
"This new program, which is only the second one in the state of Georgia, will fill a tremendous need," noted Matthew W. Kervin, CRNA and associate program director.
Students in the 28-month, seven-semester program will take courses in anatomy, pharmacology, anesthesia, physiology, research and leadership, among others. They will also be able to obtain all of their clinical requirements at The Medical Center of Central Georgia, one of the busiest surgery centers in the state with 33,000 surgical cases and 3,100 deliveries each year.
"The average student will spend 60 hours each week preparing for and participating in classroom instruction and clinical practice. It is a challenging and rigorous program," Kervin said.
Successful graduates will receive a Master of Science degree in anesthesia and be eligible to take the nurse anesthetist certification exam. On average, CRNAs earn $117,000 annually.
The program will be housed in Mercer University's School of Medicine, in congruence with the school's mission to train health care providers for rural and underserved areas. Students will have access to both Mercer's state-of-the-art resources, such as the science and cadaver labs, and The Medical Center's clinical experiences, such as regional anesthesia, thoracic and open-heart cases, neuro-surgical and orthopedic cases, and obstetrics and pediatrics.
The Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs made its final decision on accreditation this month. An on-site review was held in October where reviewers toured facilities and met with the administration, educators, surgeons and clinicians of both The Medical Center and Mercer University.
"The reviewers were very impressed by the enthusiasm and preparation exhibited by everyone interviewed," Kervin recalled. "Reviewers also stated that they have never seen a more prepared potential school, nor have they seen a more collaborative effort between a university and a major medical institution."
Already in the application process, Kervin expects eight students in the first class. That number will grow to 10 in 2006 and 12 students in 2007 and afterwards. Applicants must be able to meet several requirements, including having a bachelor's degree and a minimum of one year's experience as a registered nurse in a critical care environment.
Program Director Roger Masters said he is pleased to see the CRNA program become a reality.
"Establishing a nurse anesthetist program has been a goal of The Medical Center for almost 20 years," he says. "We're very excited and pleased to partner with an institution of Mercer's caliber."
For additional information about the nurse anesthetist program, please contact Matthew Kervin either by phone (478-633-1609) or by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
About Mercer University School of Medicine:
Mercer University's School of Medicine was established in 1982 to educate physicians and health professionals to meet the primary care and health care needs of rural and medically underserved areas of Georgia. Students entering Mercer University School of Medicine will be graduated from a school that utilizes a problem-based medical education program that provides early patient care experiences. Such an academic environment fosters the early development of clinical problem-solving and instills in each student an awareness of the place of the basic medical sciences in medical practice.