Distance Education for CRNAs Aims to Help Rural Hospitals

Duke University School of Nursing has received a $646,514 federal grant to provide distance-based education for rural nurses who want to become certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs).Charles Vacchiano PhD, CRNA, is the author and project director for this Rural CRNA Initiative grant, the first of its kind in North Carolina. Two students enrolled in the program in January 2011 through partnerships with Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton, North Carolina, and Carolina East Medical Center in New Bern, North Carolina.The new program is one of many funded nationwide by the US Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) aimed at relieving a critical shortage of CRNAs, who provide eighty percent of anesthesia care in rural hospitals. According to CRNA Program Director Sharon Hawks, DNP’10, MSN, CRNA, the grants will help address a longstanding problem for rural hospitals, which serve as clinical training sites for Duke CRNA students but are not successful in recruiting them to work in a rural setting.“Students already living in a community have an incentive to stay there,” says Hawks. “The distance-education students will acquire synchronous didactic education through the use of video teleconferencing. Distance students will receive the majority of their clinical education at the partner hospital located in their hometown community. Students will rotate to clinical sites outside of the community for clinical experiences not offered by the community hospital partner. In addition, distance students will also complete a rotation to Duke Hospital and Durham Regional Hospital, which both provide students with an opportunity to experience greater patient acuity, trauma, advanced technology, and collaboration with other disciplines.”Nurse anesthesia faculty work closely with clinical preceptors at the distance sites to coordinate and monitor each student’s progress. The sixty-credit-hour program requires twenty-eight months for completion and awards the master of science in nursing with specialization in nurse anesthesia degree.About DUSONDuke University School of Nursing (DUSON), as a diverse community of scholars and clinicians, educates the next generation of transformational leaders in nursing, advances nursing science in issues of global import, and fosters the scholarly practice of nursing. In 2011, US News and World Report ranked Duke among the top 7 graduate schools of nursing in the nation. 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 completed an undergraduate degree. More than 700 individuals enrolled for Spring 2011 classes, the largest number of students in the School’s 80-year history.

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