(Nov. 28, 2006)
The nurse anesthesia program at the East Carolina University School of Nursing has received a 10-year accreditation.
The Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Education Programs granted continued accreditation with no progress report required for 10 years, the maximum allowed. The next consideration of continued accreditation will be in 2016.
The decision recognizes the program for providing a graduate-level curriculum leading to the master's of science in nursing degree.
"We are fortunate to have outstanding students and excellent clinical and didactic faculty," said Dr. Maura S. McAuliffe, professor and director of ECU's nurse anesthesia program. "It is the collective efforts of all who make this such a strong program. Ultimately it is the residents of eastern North Carolina who benefit when they receive expert anesthesia care in the hands of our graduates."
In its notification letter, the COA noted that few programs are granted accreditation with no progress report required. Even fewer programs achieve the maximum accreditation of 10 years.
"This program is to be commended for a flawless accreditation review in which it received numerous positive remarks," said Dr. Sylvia Brown, acting dean of the School of Nursing. "It is an excellent program that could really serve as a model for other nurse anesthesia educational programs. I was present for the site visit, and they were very impressed with what we have created here."
The program admits 12 students each January, and the first class graduated in May 2005. The program is supported through a partnership with University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina and Pitt Anesthesia Associates. In addition to nursing faculty, instruction is provided through the ECU Department of Chemistry and the anatomy, physiology and pharmacology departments at the Brody School of Medicine.
Certified registered nurse anesthetist students have bachelor's degrees in nursing, are licensed as registered nurses and have at least one year of acute-care experience. Students take a core set of courses along with special anesthesia courses. They graduate with a master's degree in nursing and are then eligible to sit for the national certification exam. The degree takes approximately 28 months to complete. So far, all graduates have passed the national certification examination, and many have chosen to stay and work as CRNAs in eastern North Carolina.
The program received an initial accreditation when it began. Programs undergo a full review after the first class graduates.
ECU's program increased the state's number to six, joining programs in Raleigh, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Duke University, Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte and Western Carolina University in Cullowhee.
North Carolina has approximately 1,200 CRNAs, with 90 percent of them working in hospitals.
According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, a CRNA takes care of a patient's anesthesia needs before, during and after surgery or the delivery of a baby. CRNAs provide services in conjunction with other health care professionals, such as surgeons, dentists, podiatrists and anesthesiologists, and practice in a variety of settings from hospitals to pain clinics.