Virginia Commonwealth University


School for Nurse Anesthetists
The Department of Nurse Anesthesia at Virginia Commonwealth University was organized in 1969 as a "School" for Nurse Anesthetists.

A Leader in Nurse Anesthesia Education

A "School" of Nurse Anesthesia was established at VCU in 1969. As such, it was the first teaching program to be implemented in the newly organized School of Allied Health Professions at the Medical College of Virginia Campus. In May 1979, the Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia degree became the first such offering within the profession of nurse anesthesia. While of major importance to the University, it marked a significant milestone for the profession of nurse anesthesia.

A second hallmark was achieved in 1979 with the approval of the post graduate CRNA curriculum for the Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia degree. The Graduate Program in nurse anesthesia began as a twenty-four (24) month program of study, graduating it's first class in 1981. It has since evolved to a seven semester (approximate. 28 mos), didactically "front loaded", curriculum consisting of two integrated educational components, designed to provide graduate level education and training that enables the student to accomplish the Program's terminal objectives.

The Department of Nurse Anesthesia achieved another milestone in 2007 when the first clinical doctorate focusing specifically on the profession of nurse anesthesia was approved. The Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia practice (DNAP) is intended for the practicing CRNA who wishes to advance their knowledge in the areas of patient safety, evidence-based practice and leadership.

The Curriculum Today

VCU offers two tracks for baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses who seek an advanced professional degree in nurse anesthesia. The first is the Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia, a 7-semester program whose primary objective is the graduation of a superb clinical specialist. The second track is the combined MSNA-DNAP program that integrates the existing MSNA with the DNAP. Under this option, 9 credits of course work are shared between the two degrees. Students receive the DNAP after successfully completing the MSNA and passing the national Certification Examination.

The curriculum is supported by doctoral-prepared faculty from basic health sciences, medicine and pharmacy. The clinical component of the Program is taught at the VCU Health Systems - Medical College of Virginia Hospitals and Physicians, a university-based, urban medical center which has a 628 bed capacity including specialty rotations in obstetrics, pediatrics, ambulatory and cardiac. Other clinical sites include McGuire Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Retreat Hospital, Hanover Regional Medical Center, Johnston-Willis Hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital, Henrico Doctors Hospitals, Chippenham Medical Center, Inova Fairfax Medical Center and Pulaski Community Hospital. A Doctor of Philosophy program in Health-Related Sciences with a specialization in nurse anesthesia for practicing CRNA's accepted it's first class in the fall of 1998. Housed in the School of Allied Health Professions, this innovative distance learning option has received national acclaim and provides a unique opportunity for nurse anesthetists.

Celebrate With Us

The Department will celebrate its 45th anniversary in 2014. Please save the date of November 1, 2014 to celebrate with your colleagues and friends during a special evening in Williamsburg, Virginia. More information will be available as we get closer to the date.

Vicki Coopmans
VCU Doctoral Student, Vicki Coopmans, CRNA, MS, presenting preliminary research findings on her work in "Electronic Decision Making in Anesthesiology," at the 2004 AANA Annual Meeting in Seattle Washington

Top of Page