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Preparing Nurse Anesthetists to Lead in Patient Care Design, Assessment

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Certified Registered Nurse Anesthesia (CRNA) program at Duke University School of Nursing is poised to make a major change when it transitions from master’s degree program to a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree program.

Once the CRNA DNP program gains approval from Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Programs, the terminal degree for all Duke nurse anesthesia graduates will be the DNP. The new program will retain its core anesthesia curriculum in addition to the doctor of nursing practice curriculum. The MSN program is 28 months in duration, while the DNP will require 36 months of full-time study. The transformation to the DNP is part of a national initiative to reflect the changing demands of a complex health care environment as well as the rapid expansion of knowledge and the growing need for nursing leaders who are prepared to design and assess care.

“Our curriculum remains focused on the advanced practice role of the nurse anesthetist in addition to evidence-based practice, quality improvement and systems leadership,” said Dr. Sharon Hawks, Program Director of Duke University School of Nursing Nurse Anesthesia Specialty. “The Duke CRNA program will continue to prepare highly-qualified and sophisticated clinicians who are ready to meet today’s health care demands.”

The Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Programs is requiring all CRNA programs to transition their curricula from a Master of Science to a Doctor of Nursing Practice by 2022.

The last class of master’s students will begin classes in Spring 2014 and graduate in Spring 2016. If the change from MSN to DNP is approved, the first class of DNP students will matriculate in August 2014.

Nurse anesthesia education has been a tradition at Duke since 1931 when it was housed within Duke Allied Health programs. The last class of students graduated in 1983. However, in 2001 Duke University School of Nursing re-opened the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Specialty Program and enrolled a class of nine students. In Spring 2013, 23 students graduated with all students passing the National Certification Exam and everyone finding full-time employment immediately upon graduating.

About Duke University School of Nursing
A diverse community of scholars and clinicians, Duke University School of Nursing is educating the next generation of transformational leaders in nursing. We advance nursing science in issues of global importance and foster the scholarly practice of nursing. In 2011, U.S. News and World Report ranked Duke among the top seven graduate schools of nursing in the nation. Duke University School of Nursing is also one of the top ten recipients of National Institutes of Health awards among U.S. schools of nursing. The School offers masters, PhD and doctor of nursing practice degrees, as well as an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing degree to students who have previously graduated from college.