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RFU Helping to Meet Critical Need for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) in Colorado

RFU's Doctor of Nursing Practice in Nurse Anesthesia program is set to become the first program authorized by the Colorado Department for Higher Education to offer classroom, simulation and clinical nurse anesthesia training in the state.

CRNAs are advanced-practice nurses who are board certified to administer every type of anesthesia in all healthcare settings. Numerous studies show that CRNAs create value by providing safe, high-quality anesthesia care. 

Colorado faces a critical need for CRNAs amid an anticipated shortage of 10,000 registered nurses by 2026, according to a 2021 analysis by the consulting firm Mercer. Population growth in the state, an aging demographic and increased demand for surgical care are driving the need for CRNAs.

“RFU is expanding access to education and training for the diverse, highly skilled nursing workforce our nation needs,” said RFU College of Nursing Dean Sandra Larson, CRNA, PhD. “By taking the educational experience to the nurses in Colorado, we enhance the likelihood they will stay in Colorado following graduation, working at sites where they trained.”

The program taps into a subset of nurses who have a minimum of one-year of critical care experience. Classroom and simulation space is provided by University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

“Colorado-based RFU students stay connected to their North Chicago classmates throughout the didactic phase,” said Lori Anderson, CRNA, DNP, director of the Nurse Anesthesia Program. “They then engage in full-time residency training, rotating through seven clinical sites throughout Colorado — and we plan to add more.”

“Our residents are exposed to many different anesthesia delivery models and complexity of cases,” said Jennifer Greenwood, CRNA, PhD, associate professor of nurse anesthesia. “They experience different team dynamics, develop critical thinking and communication skills, and work as part of interprofessional teams.”

RFU’s innovative CRNA curriculum includes a focus on regional anesthesia, point-of-care ultrasound and advanced airway management. One of the keys to the program’s success is the ongoing clinical practice of its faculty. The program is also aligned with nationally recognized organizations committed to increasing diversity in the profession. 

The next application cycle for the Doctor of Nursing Practice-Nurse Anesthesia program begins in August 2024.

Posted January 16
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