Regents Approve Nurse Anesthetist Program in Abilene

Regents Approve Nurse Anesthetist Program in Abilene

The Doctor of Nursing Practice with a specialization in Nurse Anesthesia Program will be the first of its kind in West Texas.

Written by Beth Phillips

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

The Board of Regents has approved the establishment of a Doctor of Nursing Practice with a specialization in Nurse Anesthesia Program at the School of Nursing in Abilene.

The TTUHSC senior vice president for academic affairs will seek approval for the program from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

“Establishing a Doctor of Nursing Program of this specialty is very important to the health care community and just another example of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center leading the way,” said Chancellor Kent Hance. “The great people of Abilene continue to help make this a premier health care city for the Big Country region, and we are truly grateful for their support.”

A certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) is an advanced practice nurse with graduate-level education and board certification in anesthesia. In addition to administering the prescribed anesthetic, CRNAs are trained to monitor the patient’s vital signs and communicate the information to the physicians. They also perform other tasks during these medical procedures, like inserting artificial airways, administering oxygen and preventing surgical shock.

The need for CRNAs will increase over the next decade. The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists recently reported that 20 percent of its CRNA members plan to retire in the next six years. The number of surgical cases performed each year is rising and is expected to continue to rise as baby boomers age. In addition, with the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more people will have access to health care.

There are no nurse anesthesia programs in West Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada or Oklahoma. This means nurses in Lubbock, Abilene and the surrounding areas must leave the state to obtain this type of education.

By starting a program in Abilene, West Texas nurses could attend a local program and then be recruited to work in local hospitals upon graduation, said School of Nursing Dean Michael L. Evans, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN.

“The Abilene community has committed to extensive backing of this program through financial support along with support for clinical experiences pledged by local anesthesiologists,” Evans said.

TTUHSC has been steadily growing in Abilene, and most recently opened a new nursing facility.

In March 2008, the School of Nursing partnered with Hendrick Health System to establish a Web-based Second-Degree Nursing Program in Abilene. Students gain clinical experience at Hendrick Medical Center and in local community-based agencies and clinics. The school expanded its traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program to Abilene in May 2009.

There are currently 160 students enrolled in the School of Nursing in Abilene. It is anticipated that the school will have a total enrollment of 200 students by 2015. Other programs available to Abilene and area residents are the online RN to BSN program and various graduate programs.


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School of Nursing
School of Nursing

The School of Nursing began in 1979 with the development of the first nationally accredited Continuing Nursing Education Program in Texas.

With campuses in Lubbock, Amarillo, Abilene, Dallas and the Permian Basin, the school offers a variety of programs:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • RN to BSN
  • Second Degree Web-based BSN
  • Veteran to BSN
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Midwifery
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Post Master's Nurse Educator Certificate Program

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