In a timely—and much-needed—move, Western Carolina University (based in Cullowhee) this summer is rolling out a new doctoral-level nurse anesthesia program, welcoming 16 students to its new Bachelors of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice Program in Nurse Anesthesia. The Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Programs has been pushing for advanced, doctoral-level training, and the program will be based at the University’s Biltmore Park campus in Asheville. Plans are for a 36-month curriculum, replacing the university’s master-level program and integrating research, physiology, pharmacology, and anesthesia principles to prepare graduates for the national certification exam.
The original program was established in 2007 in order to address the regional shortage of nurse anesthetists, along with the obvious need for culturally competent anesthesia care here. As Western North Carolina has huge swathes of rural territory, the need for cost-effective care to underserved populations and high-risk groups is high—regional news of late has also highlighted the fact that a number of facilities have been cutting back on a number of services they offer, forcing many rural patients to travel long distances for health care—so the WCU student-registered nurse anesthetists are trained with that need in mind and come from diverse backgrounds.
According to WCU, “Health care access is a silent threat to WNC. With this community focus in mind, program director Dr. Shawn Collins anticipates the new course of study will act twofold. First, it will meet education standards recently mandated by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Programs. Second, and perhaps most importantly, it will allow graduates to provide accessible, high-quality healthcare right at home.”
WCU has set a deadline of September 15 for applicants interested in the May 2019 cohort, and more information can be found HERE at the WCU website.
Photos credit: courtesy Western Carolina University