Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist pilot program is innovative collaboration among four universities; aimed at reaching wider range of students

As National Nurses Week continues, Case Western Reserve University is pleased to announce a new avenue by which qualifying nurses can advance their careers in the field. Offered by the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing in collaboration with four partner schools, the innovative certificate program gives students who might not get another chance to earn the degree necessary to work as Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) a better shot.

The new pilot program was designed to reach two groups of potential students: those who have been previously rejected from an accredited CRNA doctoral program or those who know their current skills and qualifications do not meet current program standards and want to become more competitive applicants.

The program also aims to diversify the CRNA workforce by specifically reaching out to underrepresented minority students.

Nurses who eventually complete their CRNA degree will likely find a healthy job market: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 45% increase in demand for CRNAs in the next decade.

Multi-institution collaboration

This new endeavor, the Leadership Excel and Achievement Program (LEAP), is a one-year certificate program that concentrates on science, understanding the professional role and scholarship.

It is part of the Nurse Anesthesia Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at Case Western Reserve, but is also being offered concurrently at four affiliate institutions: Columbia University, Medical University of South Carolina, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Arizona.

Graduates who complete the one-year certificate program will be automatically enrolled in one of the five institutions’ doctoral-level CRNA programs.

Sonya Moore

Sonya D. Moore, CRNA program director and assistant professor at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, said she was inspired to encourage and support nurses who have demonstrated academic success and the motivation to enter the field of nurse anesthesia.

“LEAP is a way for nurses who want to become a nurse anesthetist, have a strong work ethic and passion for nursing, but who may benefit from a focused preparatory program,” she said. “The field of CRNAs is still fairly narrow. Through this initiative, we hope to bring a broader student audience to nurse anesthesia. Awareness and knowledge will drive the profession forward.”

Moore said more than 100 students have already applied to the program.

“I believe the robust number of applicants is reflective of the competitiveness of traditional programs,” she said. “Also, the motivation of the applicants to achieve their goal is very apparent.”

Carol Musil, dean of the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, commended Moore for “spearheading this groundbreaking collaboration to create a new pathway to a career in nurse anesthesia. All of the programs involved are thrilled to see this initiative take off and expand the field and practice of nurse anesthesia to a new and more diverse generation of nurses.”

Each of the five universities has agreed to enroll at least two of the student participants after completing LEAP. Students must agree to attend the affiliate program that admits them following their successful completion of the certificate program.

Kristie Hoch, program administrator for the nurse anesthesia specialty at University of Arizona’s College of Nursing, said she’s excited to be part of LEAP’s trailblazing endeavor.

“We often discuss ways to help students efficacious in attaining admissions to our programs, achieving academic success, and accomplishing the steps to graduate with a doctoral degree,” Hoch said. “The LEAP program provides not only a pathway, but faculty mentorship to attain this realization.”

For more information, contact Mike Scott at mike.scott@case.edu.