Posted by William Nunnelley on 2002-11-11

In response to the chronic nationwide shortage of nurse anesthetists, Samford University's Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing will begin offering a nurse anesthesia program through its Master of Science in Nursing degree during the summer of 2003.

Students completing the nurse anesthesia program will earn the Master of Science in Nursing degree and fulfill educational requirements to take the national Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) examination.

Dr. Michael A. Fiedler will serve as chair of the Department of Nurse Anesthesia in the Nursing School. Dr. Fiedler has practiced as a CRNA at hospitals in Memphis, Tenn., Richmond, Va., and Houston, Texas, and is an experienced professor of nurse anesthesia.

He holds a B.S. degree from Indiana Wesleyan University, M.S. from Baylor College of Medicine Graduate School and Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

The new program will help address the national CRNA shortage that is projected to increase significantly over the next decade. The shortage is more severe in the Southeast and Southwest, causing some hospitals to close trauma services and to cut back on surgery schedules.

"The large number of healthcare institutions in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and Mississippi creates an increased demand for nurse anesthetists as compared to other regions in the United States," said nursing Dean Nena F. Sanders.
"Although we have not reached this degree of shortage in Alabama, a number of hospitals have delayed or canceled elective surgical cases due to the shortage of anesthetists," she said.

A National Institutes of Health (NIH) study underscored the need, calling for a 40 percent increase in CRNAs by 2010. Almost half (43 percent) of nurse anesthetist managers reported their departments had openings of from one to 12 CRNAs.

CRNAs provide care to patients before, during and immediately after surgical, obstetrical and trauma stabilization procedures. CRNAs are the sole anesthesia providers in approximately two-thirds of the nation's rural hospitals and about half of all hospitals. Overall, CRNAs administer approximately 65 percent of the 26 million anesthetics given to patients each year in the United States, often (though not always) working in groups with or under the supervision of physician anesthesiologists.

"As a private university, Samford can offer a premiere, pace-setting program in nurse anesthesia," said Dr. Fiedler. "We intend to do that and more, offering an enriched curriculum that surpasses accreditation standards."

Nurse anesthetist programs must be accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Education Programs. Samford is working to develop its curriculum and establish clinical affiliations to submit accreditation materials by the winter of 2002-03.

"The Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing has a strong program that will serve as the foundation for the addition of a CRNA program," said Dean Sanders. "We have in place the core courses and curriculum foundation to meet the accreditations standards required by the accrediting body, and CRNA faculty are available to serve as faculty for the program."

Samford also is close to clinical practice sites for preceptorships and training of CRNAs, Sanders noted. She added that the Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing has received a steady stream of inquiries about starting such a program during recent months from people looking into Moffett's Master of Science in Nursing degree.

"With these factors in place, this seems to be an ideal time for Samford to begin offering a program that would help alleviate the shortage of CRNAs in our area," she said.

In addition to the CRNA program, the nursing school offers through its Master of Science in Nursing program advanced specialization tracks in family nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse educator, nurse manager and nurse executive (MSN/MBA), along with specialization in missions and parish nursing.

At the baccalaureate level, Moffett offers the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and additional options in a Registered Nurse Mobility track for BSN completion and an accelerated Second Degree BSN program for those with a baccalaureate degree in another field.