Fairfield University's School of Nursing to offer a Doctor of Nursing Practice in Nurse Anesthesia



Program places Fairfield at forefront of education in the nursing profession

Image: School of NursingFairfield University is launching a Doctor of Nursing Practice in Nurse Anesthesia program (DNP-NAP), offered in conjunction with Bridgeport Hospital and Bridgeport Anesthesia Associates. With classes set to get underway in May, the endeavor makes Fairfield one of the first institutions to offer such a program.

"Fairfield University's School of Nursing is one of the first to offer a doctoral program in nurse anesthesia for entry right into practice," said Nancy Moriber, Ph.D., CRNA, APRN, the School's nurse anesthesia program track coordinator. "It puts us on the cutting edge and at the forefront of nurse anesthesia education."

The full-time, 36 month DNP-NAP program (www.fairfield.edu/dnp) has been established in response to a new professional standard in the nursing field, requiring nurse anesthetists to hold a practice doctorate by the year 2025.

Jeanne Novotny, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, dean of the School of Nursing, said offering the advanced degree is in keeping with Fairfield's mission to educate nurses for the highest level of nursing practice. "There is a crucial need to prepare advanced practice nurses to take on a leading role among caregivers. At the same time, there is an emphasis towards clinical DNP certification for all advanced nurses within the next decade, and this program addresses both those needs."  

Students will be educated to be expert clinicians for every stage and in every setting in which anesthesia is delivered to patients. Nurses in this specialty enjoy a high degree of autonomy. According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), nurse anesthetists are involved in approximately two-thirds of all anesthetists delivered in the United States and are the sole provider of anesthesia services in many rural hospitals and to men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  

Individuals with a B.S.N degree and a minimum of one year's experience as a RN in a critical care setting (ER does not fulfill this criteria) may apply to the DNP-NAP program. Students who complete the program earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from the university and a certificate in nurse anesthesia from Bridgeport Hospital. Upon graduation, students are eligible to sit for the certification examination administered by the Council on Certification of Nurse Anesthetists.

Moriber said that in addition to 'routine' surgical cases, nurse anesthesia students enhance their preparation by participating in trauma, major burn, and high-risk obstetrical cases. "Because nurse anesthetists are responsible for direct patient care, students gain hands-on experience in a variety of regional - neuraxial and peripheral blocks- and general anesthesia techniques under the supervision of certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA) and anesthesiologists (M.D.) faculty," she said.

While educated to become clinicians, Fairfield DNP-NAP graduates will also be prepared to assume a variety of leadership roles, including executive positions in healthcare organizations, directors of clinical programs and university based faculty positions with a clinical focus.

The program starts in May of each year and operates continuously, independent of the University academic calendar. After a year of academics, students begin their clinical orientation and clinical practicum. They spend 21 months in the clinical arena working side-by-side with staff CRNAs and anesthesiologists. Students enrolled in the program said that a great benefit of Fairfield's nurse anesthesia program is that all the clinicals are done at one site: Bridgeport Hospital, while another asset is there is plenty of opportunity for one-on-one mentoring.

The DNP-NAP track joins two other DNP programs at Fairfield: the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner tracks.

For further information about admissions, curriculum, and the School of Nursing's faculty and facilities, visit fairfield.edu/dnp or call Graduate Admissions at (203) 254-4184.

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

Posted on February 1, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 179