UAMS Receives Accreditation for Nurse Anesthesia Program

By Spencer Watson

“Creating a nurse anesthesia program fits within UAMS’s larger strategic goals of embracing innovative programs and new approaches to train tomorrow’s health care workforce and improve health care for all Arkansans,” said UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA.

A certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) administers and monitors anesthesia as patients undergo surgical procedures. They can work in a variety of health care environments, such as traditional hospital operating rooms, standalone surgical centers and dental surgery practices.

“This is a field in fast-growing demand both nationally and internationally,” said Patricia Cowan, Ph.D., RN, dean of the UAMS College of Nursing. “By including it in our course offerings we are making sure our students are well prepared for what the health care workforce will demand in the coming years.”

The nurse anesthesia program is a specialty in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) program. It is the only accredited doctoral-level nurse anesthesia program based in Arkansas. On Nov. 12, the College of Nursing will begin accepting applications for fall 2020 enrollment. (Click here for the program’s website).

The program is led by Michelle Gonzalez, Ph.D., CRNA, who joined UAMS in January from the University of Maryland School of Nursing, where she served as an assistant professor and simulation coordinator and performed clinical practice as a certified registered nurse anesthetist at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Mark Dunavan, D.N.P., CRNA, is the assistant nurse anesthesia program director. Dunavan, a native Arkansan, joined UAMS in early September from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, where he was an assistant professor and simulation coordinator. He had a clinical practice with Medical Anesthesia Group and the Methodist Healthcare System in Tennessee.

“Our goal in this program is to prepare students to provide high-quality, safe and effective patient-centered anesthesia care for every patient in our care, whether they are outside of, or in the operating room, where nurse anesthetists will spend the majority of their professional lives,” said Gonzalez. “In doing so, this will allow graduates to be able to quickly and accurately prepare and administer medications, while monitoring and anticipating patient needs, providing optimal comfort and care while undergoing anesthesia.”