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School of Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the program currently accredited?
The USM Nurse Anesthesia Program (NAP) received initial accreditation by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Program effective October 12, 2012.

This signifies that all of the procedural steps have been successfully completed up to this point in time. This decision recognizes that the program will provide a graduate-level curriculum leading to the award of a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.

The program is fully accredited by the Council on Accreditation of the AANA through 2023. The next accreditation visit will take place in APRIL 2023.

The USM School of Nursing is fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), and The University of Southern Mississippi is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL). 

What degree plan does the USM Nurse Anesthesia Program offer?
The program will provide a graduate-level curriculum leading to the award of a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree The curriculum is designed as a post-baccalaureate to Doctor of Nursing Practice (BSN-DNP) with an emphasis in anesthesia.

How long is the USM NAP?
The USM NAP is a 36 consecutive month integrated curriculum. The Council on Accreditation requires that doctoral programs be a minimum of 36 months.

Why should I choose a DNP program?
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) have adopted the entry-to-practice doctorate degree requirement by 2025 for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists. Many nurse anesthesia programs have already made the transition to a doctoral program or are in the process of transition.

The DNP title is the accepted title for the terminal practice doctorate degree in nursing. A CRNA with a DNP will have the credentials necessary to not only function in the clinical setting, but also assume a leadership position in healthcare systems, and to participate in academia and research. 

How many students will be accepted?
There will be approximately 20 – 25 applicants will be accepted into the program each year.

May I apply for or receive advanced standing in the USM Nurse Anesthesia Program if I have previously attended another nurse anesthesia program?
Advanced standing is not granted to students even if they have attended another nurse anesthesia program. The BSN-DNP program is a uniquely integrated curriculum that builds on past education and experiences and progresses from basic to complex. All students must complete the program in its entirety in the sequence listed.

No students will be admitted if they have attended another anesthesia program except for military transfer (Spouse or Self). 

How many years of practice as a licensed Registered Nurse are required? What type of clinical experience is preferred?
Applicants must be currently working full-time as a licensed registered nurse in an area of intensive care nursing (ICU, CVICU, SICU, Neurosurgical ICU, MICU, PICU, Trauma Burn, etc.).  

At least one (two years preferred) at the time of application is required. Level III neonatal and pediatric ICU experience is accepted; however, additional part-time adult experience is highly encouraged and is typically needed to supplement experience.

Areas that do not meet ICU requirements are CCU, PACU, Surgery, step-down units, cath laboratories, and emergency room. Individual consideration will be given to these areas that serve as an “overflow” unit for acutely ill patients requiring intensive care nursing as described in the previous paragraph if the applicant has additional ICU experience.

All applicants must have experience in continuous ECG monitoring, invasive monitoring, vasoactive infusion management, and ventilator management.

What certifications are required to apply?

  • The CCRN certification is required prior to application to the program.
  • Current Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), and Pediatric Life  Support (PALS) are all required.

How do I apply to the USM Nurse Anesthesia Program?
The application process is online. The applicant must apply to the USM Graduate School and which includes the application for the College of Nursing and Health Professions application and the additional Nurse Anesthesia Application page. 

There will be two fees to apply. 1) The graduate school application fee of $60 and 2) The Nurse Anesthesia Program Application fee of $100. Both are payable electronically at the time of application through the Graduate School application portal.

To be considered for an interview, your application must be complete, including payment. The system will send frequent email reminders to the applicant to complete their application. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure their application is complete within the Graduate School application system. 

When is the deadline for applications?
The deadline for applications to be submitted will be June 1st for the following year’s January cohort. Supporting documents from external sources (GRE Scores, official transcripts, reference letters, pending BSN completion degrees, etc.) must also be received by the Graduate School on or before the June 1st deadline. Incomplete applications will not be considered after the deadline. Application fees must be paid in full to the USM Graduate School and the Nurse Anesthesia Program for the application to be considered complete.

What are the fees for application?
There is a NAP application fee of 100$ and a Graduate School General Application fee of $60 You will be prompted to submit payment for each during the online application process prior to finalizing your submission. 

Are all applicants granted an interview?
Only completed applications will be reviewed. The applications process is very competitive; therefore, the applicants will be screened and only the top, most qualified candidates will be granted an interview with the NAP Admissions Committee. The program reserves the right to decline interviews based on previous interviews, references, or previous communication, as examples.

When can I expect to be notified if I am granted an interview?
Applicants selected for an interview will be in early to mid-June. Interviews will be in the month of June or early July. Notification of acceptance can be expected after interviews within 2 weeks.

If I am accepted into the program, will I have to make a deposit to secure my position?
Yes, applicants that are offered a position in the program are required to make a $1500 non-refundable deposit to secure their position. The deposit must be received within ten days of the offer notification email, or the position will be forfeited to an applicant on the alternate list. The deposit will be credited toward the student’s tuition at the time of matriculation. All deposits and application fees are non- refundable.

Who can I contact at USM regarding the applications process?
Please utilize the link to the USM Graduate School for information regarding the application process. The Office of Admissions should be contacted with questions regarding the application process or the status of your application file.

Whom can I contact about the program? 
Questions regarding specific information about the program by contacting Mrs. Sonia Adams at or by phone at 601-266-5454. 
Does your program follow the academic calendar?
For the first didactic year, the program primarily follows the academic calendar with the exception of announced meetings or activities. Graduate students in a professional program are often required to attend events outside of the normal class hours. It is an expectation of the program. Once in the program, when clinical rotations begin, we do not follow the academic calendar.

Is there an official part-time plan of study?
The plan of study in the nurse anesthesia program is full-time. The program is 36 consecutive month cohort model which includes didactic and clinical components. Each semester builds on the previous semester’s content.

Can I work while I am enrolled in the program?
During the first year, some students will work shifts during their breaks between semesters., although the program administration believes the break should be for relaxation, rest, and family connectivity. Consistently, we see that once the clinical portion of the program begins, students who try to work any shifts are not successful in their didactic courses. Employment is strongly discouraged for nurse anesthesia students because of the rigorous academic demands and the need for rest, relaxation, and family connectivity during the non-clinical and off days from class. If students seek outside employment, they must remain in academic good standing to proceed in the program. Students are prohibited from working in any capacity that involves the administration of anesthesia.

Are there pre-requisite courses required for admission? 

What are the pre-requisite courses required for admission

Statistics: An approved graduate-level statistics course is required as a prerequisite to the NAP. To be counted, a “B” or higher must be submitted via transcript prior to enrollment in the USM NAP. The course must be a 600 (or 6000) level graduate statistics course.  If you have not taken a graduate-level statistics course, places are held in the online USM course and may be taken in the fall after you have been accepted to the program. 

If you have already completed a graduate-level statistics course (600 or 6000 level course or higher) with a “B” or better, an official transcript and course syllabus that includes course content must be submitted to for review to determine if the course will be acceptable. Pass / Fail courses will not be accepted.

Chemistry: A “B” or better in a college-level chemistry course is not required but is highly encouraged and improves your application strength.

Will I be required to submit an essay with my application?
You will submit a statement of purpose included in your cover letter. You should:

a) articulate the reason you have chosen nurse anesthesia as a career, b) your personal/professional accomplishments, c) your strengths and weaknesses, and d) your short/long-range professional goals. The essay is limited to two pages double-spaced. (Times Roman or Arial 11 or 12 font size). Only the first two pages will be read if your essay goes over the limit.

Can you tell me about the GRE?
It is a required exam for interview selection and admission. A competitive applicant should have a GRE score of:

  • 300 or higher (on the 130-170 scale) when combining the verbal and quantitative scores. Competition for admission is strong. A score of approximately 150 in each verbal and quantitative and a 4.0 analytical will be competitive.
  • Analytical Writing Score of 4.0 or higher, a lower analytical score may be accepted.
  • We recommend retaking the exam until you achieve your desired score.

How old can the GRE scores be?
The GRE exam scores must be within the past five years.

Should I spend time with a CRNA observing cases in the operating room?
Typically, shadowing time is required by the program. You should contact a CRNA and arrange a time to observe them administering anesthesia. This should be done early in the application process to allow you time to understand the role of the CRNA and the profession to which you are applying. We recommend that you ask questions about the role of the CRNA during the shadowing experience. Sixteen hours of shadowing is required, but we prefer 24 hours of shadowing or more.

Additionally, you will be required to upload a shadowing log that indicates dates, CRNA name, location, case type, and length of time spent observing the CRNA as part of your application. A shadow log is provided on the program website under the Additional Information button.

If you are unable to shadow due to facility or medical restrictions, in its place you may interview a CRNA with the provided form as a guide. The form can be found on the USM NAP website under useful forms. 

You may also submit the interview in addition to shadowing if you desire.

What is the cost of tuition for the USM Nurse Anesthesia Program?
The cost of tuition to attend the NAP can be accessed on the USM Business Office website under “graduate tuition”.

Is financial aid available?

Yes. Information on financial aid can be found on the Office of Financial Aid USM website. Prior to starting the program, the FAFSA will need to be completed (typically in the fall prior to admission). Most of our students do have financial aid and there are several options available. The Office of Financial Aid at USM can help you with your choices.

Besides tuition, are there additional expenses associated with the USM Nurse Anesthesia Program? 

Additional fees and expenses are associated with the program. A program fee of approximately $500 per semester is charged for graduate nurse anesthesia students. This fee is covered by financial aid and covers most of your program incurred expenses (software, parking, liability insurance, course fee, graduation fees, lab equipment, lab coat, etc). Travel and housing at distant clinical sites beginning in the second year of the program are to be expected and are those costs not covered in the program fees. These are the responsibility of the student.

Do I need to live in Hattiesburg?
Honestly, yes or very nearby. Distant travel has not worked out well for us in the past. Students struggle with finding time to study when traveling 1-3 hours total in a day. It is noticeable in their grades after a time. It is not required but highly recommended to live near the campus. You will be held to standards as if you are living locally and travel, weather, or vehicle-related issues are not an excuse to miss class or be tardy. 

How many clinical sites are affiliated with the USM NAP? Will I be required to rotate to all of the sites?
The USM NAP has over 20 clinical sites. This number may change as more sites are added and any are deleted. The NAP boasts a variety of settings that include two Level II trauma centers, two military hospitals, CRNA-only practices, ambulatory surgery centers, a level I trauma center, and office-based anesthesia. Additional sites will be sought if there is an increase in the number of students enrolled in the program to ensure that all students meet the minimum number of required cases set by the Council on Accreditation of Educational Programs. Students can expect to rotate to all of the clinical sites. Students will be assigned to the clinical sites to maximize learning opportunities and assigned by student preference. 

Will I be expected to cover call shifts and Holidays while in clinical?
Yes, to meet the accreditation requirements the NAP has provided opportunities for students to obtain clinical experiences outside the regular clinical schedule by a call experience or other mechanism. Students will be assigned to call shifts and rotational shifts (e.g., 3-11, 11- 7, weekends, to maximize clinical learning experiences.

Major holiday clinical coverage is not required during the program. A student may elect to use the holiday as a make-up day or for extra clinical experience, but it is not a requirement.

Will I be allowed to select my clinical sites?
No. Sites are assigned. This is to ensure all students have equal clinical experiences.

Will the students be afforded vacation time during the 36 months?
Yes, you will be assigned vacation beginning in your second year (when you start clinical). During your first year, you will follow the academic calendar and will be “off” quite a bit. You are expected to schedule your vacations and trips during this time. 

Once in clinical, you are assigned vacation, one week in May, one week in August, and one week in December for the two clinical years. You will be expected to take your vacation and travel during this time. You will have 5 additional days that are to be used for interviewing and other administrative purposes that may be taken in your last two years.

Is health insurance required while attending the NAP?
Yes, students are required to have health insurance during the entire program of study. Lapse or failure to maintain will result in dismissal.

Is liability insurance required while enrolling in the NAP?
Yes, students are required to have liability insurance before entering the clinical setting (by October of the year they are admitted to the program). It is the student’s responsibility to maintain a current policy, un-lapsed, during the entire clinical portion of the program. The program pays for the insurance through program fees, but it is the student's responsibility to complete forms and renew their insurance online. 
Are there any other forms I need to fill out to apply?

A few other forms will be required for you to fill out during the Graduate School Application process. Prior to applying, only the clinical shadow log and the nurse anesthesia interview form are available to download and complete.

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School of Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice

Asbury Hall (AH) 317 
3215 Montague Boulevard
Hattiesburg, MS 39401

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