December 21, 2014  

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Southern Miss Prepares Groundwork for Nurse Anesthesia Program

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Dr. Vickie Stuart will serve as the director of the new Nurse Anesthesia Program at The University of Southern Mississippi's School of Nursing. (University Communications photo by Van Arnold)

The School of Nursing at The University of Southern Mississippi will soon take a giant leap in healthcare education and training by offering the state’s first degree-granting nurse anesthesia program.

The new program will include 36 consecutive months of study and award a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. School of Nursing officials hope to receive final approval from the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs in October with classes set to begin in January 2013.

 “The benefit of this type of program to residents of Mississippi is access to an in-state nurse anesthesia program which will eliminate out-of-state tuition expenses,” said Dr. Vickie Stuart, nurse anesthesia program director and assistant clinical professor at Southern Miss. “The nurse anesthesia program will benefit Southern Miss by strengthening the partnerships between the university and the health community.”

According to Stuart, the new program’s mission is to supply doctoral prepared graduates with the advanced knowledge in the area of clinical specialization of nurse anesthesia. The DNP prepares the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) to assume leadership positions in education, management and patient care by offering a curriculum concentrating on quality assessment and improvement, health care systems and organizations, leadership, best evidence of practice, health policy and health care economics.

The nurse anesthesia program continues a pattern of exciting news from the Southern Miss School of Nursing thus far in 2012. In January the Southern Miss Foundation announced a fundraising campaign to construct a new nursing building on campus. The campaign began with a $4 million commitment from the Asbury Foundation for the building, which will be named Asbury Hall.

Dr. Katherine Nugent, director of the School of Nursing at Southern Miss, said the addition of the nurse anesthesia program will enrich the educational experience of all students in the nursing program.

“There will be opportunity for integrated learning and sharing of information relating to roles, knowledge, and practice competencies of our students in the entry-level, advanced practice, and Doctor of Nursing practice programs. In addition, scholarship and transitional research will be enhanced,” said Nugent.

Hattiesburg’s Forrest General Hospital will serve as the primary clinical site for the students in the nurse anesthesia program. Stuart points out that Southern Miss will accept up to 20 students per year in the program.

A DeRidder, La., native, Stuart has practiced as a CRNA in Hattiesburg since 1998. For the past several years she has been involved in the didactic and clinical education of student anesthetists as faculty at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, nurse anesthesia program and as the associate director of the Baylor College of Medicine’s graduate program in nurse anesthesia.

What began as a career goal for Stuart in 2008 when she first approached Southern Miss administrators with the idea of a nurse anesthesia program, has blossomed into a comprehensive educational opportunity for the School of Nursing.

“Our vision is that the Southern Miss nurse anesthesia program will emerge as a premier practice-oriented doctoral nurse anesthesia program that excels in scholarship, practice and research,” said Stuart.

For more information about the admissions criteria for the program visit: www.usm.edu/nursing/nurse-anesthesia-program-nap

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