Fairfield University School of Nursing and Bridgeport Hospital Nurse Anesthesia Program gets underway with students from across the country


The inaugural class of the Fairfield University and the Bridgeport Hospital Nurse Anesthesia Program recently began the full-time program, which will take 29 months to complete. The group was selected from approximately 80 who applied and includes six women and four men, ranging in age from 25 to 46, all with critical care experience in nursing from top hospitals throughout the country. Some moved their families across the country and left prominent positions to take part in the unique program.

It is the only nurse anesthesia program in Connecticut to offer the Master of Science in Nursing to its anesthesia students. Students who complete the program will earn a Master of Science in Nursing from Fairfield University and a Certificate in Nurse Anesthesia from the Bridgeport Hospital Nurse Anesthesia Program.

Student Matthew Johnson, a former nurse at Chandler Regional Hospital in Arizona, relocated here after hearing about the program from Jay Smith, a nurse co-worker. Smith and his wife also decided to move across country so he could enroll. Johnson said, "Fairfield offers a program where a student does all their clinical rotations in one place, and that is what makes this program very special. I also like that I will work very closely with a core group of people at the university and the hospital for the entire time. Once I learned all about the program, I cancelled all my other interviews at other schools."

A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) provides anesthesia services as a sole provider or as a part of an anesthesia care team in conjunction with an anesthesiologist.

After completing extensive education and training, CRNAs become nationally certified and can practice throughout the country. They are among the highest paid nurse professionals. Salaries range from about $100,000 to upwards of around $250,000 annually reflecting overtime pay.

The Fairfield University-Bridgeport Hospital Nurse Anesthesia Program is a 50-credit program that provides all clinical opportunities at one site to meet the standards set by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia (COA) Educational Programs. Visit www.fairfield.edu/x838.xml for details. Students split their time doing class work at Fairfield and additional course work as well as clinical rotations at Bridgeport Hospital.

Jeanne M. Novotny, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, dean of the School of Nursing, said, "This first class includes an impressive group of nurses who tested themselves in critical care at great hospitals. We are proud that they chose Fairfield University, and we're also proud of the hard work put in by so many people to make this program a reality."

Accepted students have experience working in critical care areas such as burn units and neonatal intensive care. Jennifer Chen left a full-time job as an intensive care unit nurse at New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center to enter the program. "I'm ready to move on in my career. They care about educating you here."

Karen Wu left a nursing post in the open-heart surgery department at Lenox Hill Hospital because the program had everything she was looking for. "This is a great opportunity." Clementine Mainsah left a cardiac intensive care nursing job in Michigan because the opportunities for a CRNA seem boundless. Monroe native Drew Brown, who was working as a Level 1 trauma nurse in St. Louis, moved with his wife and young children back into his parents' home to take part. "The clinical aspect is phenomenal. You would be hard-pressed to find another program like it."

Others came to Fairfield from nearby. Trina Duby was a nurse at Bridgeport Hospital. Lisa Ianuzzi worked at Hospital of St. Raphael. Manuel Falcon, who left a job as an ICU nurse at Hartford Hospital, likes that he can earn a master's degree in nursing science, because it is necessary for anyone going on to a Ph.D. program in nursing.

Nancy A. Moriber, CRNA, MS, APRN, program director for the Bridgeport Hospital Nurse Anesthesia Program, said Nurse Anesthesia is a profession offering the advanced practice registered nurse a multitude of practice opportunities and avenues for continued education.

The new program prepares students as expert clinicians for every situation in which anesthesia is delivered to a patient, including traditional hospital operating rooms, obstetrical delivery rooms; critical access hospitals; and ambulatory surgical centers, to name a handful of scenarios.

According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), CRNAs safely administer approximately 27 million anesthetics to patients each year in the United States. Regardless of whether anesthesia is administered by a CRNA or a medical doctor, anesthesia is given the same way. As advanced practice nurses, CRNAs practice with a high degree of independence.

Because nurse anesthetists are responsible for direct patient care, students gain hands-on experience in a variety of anesthesia techniques under the supervision of CRNA and MD faculty. The students will be tested by participating in trauma, major burn, and high-risk obstetrical cases. The nurse anesthesia program will start in January of each year. After a spring and summer of academics, students will begin their clinical practicum and continue to take required academic courses.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 5, 2007

Vol. 39, No. 130