UE Announces New Nurse Anesthesia Program Slated to Begin January 2021

Posted: Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The University of Evansville's new Nurse Anesthesia program is slated to begin in January 2021 pending accreditation from the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA). The program joins the rich collection of strong health professions programs already offered at UE.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, or CRNAs, have been providing anesthesia care to patients in the United States for more than 150 years. CRNAs are anesthesia professionals who safely administer more than 49 million anesthetics to patients each year in the U.S., according to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) 2019 Member Profile Survey.

CRNAs are the primary providers of anesthesia care in rural America, enabling healthcare facilities in these medically underserved areas to offer obstetrical, surgical, pain management, and trauma stabilization services.

As advanced practice registered nurses, CRNAs practice with a high degree of autonomy and professional respect. They carry a heavy load of responsibility and are compensated accordingly. In addition, the cost efficiency of CRNAs helps control escalating healthcare costs.

The University of Evansville has applied for accreditation for its Nurse Anesthesia program from the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA). UE anticipates matriculating its first nurse anesthesia class in January 2021, pending a favorable accreditation decision in October 2020.

In September 2019, Melissa Fitch, CRNA, DNP, was hired as the founding administrator for the program. Fitch earned her associate's degree in nursing in 1997 from Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro, Kentucky. She earned her BSN, MSN-Anesthesia, and DNP from Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky. She serves on the Programs Committee for the Kentucky Association of Nurse Anesthetists (KyANA) and is a member of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA).

"I'm excited to share my knowledge and love for this practice with the next generation of nurse anesthetists," said Fitch. "Numerous healthcare facilities in Evansville and the surrounding communities have already signed clinical agreements with us and are ready to welcome CRNA students into their practices."

Melissa Fitch headshot

The first cohort of 16 students will begin in January of 2021, pending accreditation from the COA. The program lasts three years, and graduates will leave the University with more than 2,200 hours of clinical experience.

Applications are slated to open in Fall of 2020, and interested individuals can begin preparing for program entry now. Admission requirements include the following:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing from an accredited nursing program
  • One full year of intensive care experience in the ICU or CCU
  • CCRN not required, but strongly preferred
  • 3.0 overall undergraduate GPA
  • 3.0 undergraduate GPA in science-specific areas of study
  • Have at least two separate anesthetist shadow experiences

The Nurse Anesthesia Program will be housed on the UE campus; however, students will also take courses at The Stone Family Center for Health Sciences in downtown Evansville. This state-of-the-art multi-institutional campus provides unique opportunities for interprofessional experiences among various health professional students, collaborative learning, and research opportunities.

The Bureau of Labor projects that the job outlook for CRNAs is very strong. It is estimated that employment of nurse anesthetists will grow 31 percent from 2016 to 2026 - much faster than the average for all occupations.

For more information, call or email Melissa Fitch at 812-488-5650 or mf245@evansville.edu.

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