USF’s Nurse Anesthesia program gains national attention with move to CAMLS

Michelle Marciano had acceptance offers from multiple nurse anesthesia programs. And she was seriously considering offers from other schools.

But last October, she toured USF’s soon-to-open Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS). Tour guides for the framed out space promised suites filled with state-of-the-art equipment for learning and practicing a range of medical procedures. They noted how the $38 million facility was the only one of its kind and that the 90,000-square-foot building would bring an unprecedented level of technical and teamwork training, simulation and competence assessment under one roof, as well as significant research and device innovation capability.

Photo of Lloyd Ohls and Hayley Suratt practice critical operating room skills at CAMLS.

Lloyd Ohls and Hayley Suratt practice critical operating room skills at CAMLS.

Better still, thought Marciano: USF’s Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) program would be housed entirely in CAMLS.

So when USF asked her to join its CRNA program, her choice was easy, she said.

“CAMLS solidified my decision that USF is where I want to go,” said Marciano, who is currently a nurse at Shands Hospital in Gainesville. “I know the level of education I’ll receive at USF will put me way above other programs. The training I’ll get is incomparable. How can you even compare?”

Marciano is one of 33 students who will start the graduate-level course this fall. This CRNA group is the College of Nursing’s largest since it recently added 13 spaces to the 6-year-old program –a 40 percent increase from last fall. To help meet the demand, the College has added three new graduate level simulation courses and doubled its faculty.

A STRONG REPUTATION FOR QUALITY
In 2011, USF’s CRNA program received a full 10-year reaccreditation from the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs. The program’s graduates have an overall licensure exam pass rate of 100 percent with a first-time pass rate of 89 percent. In addition, the program boasts an employment rate of 100 percent for its graduates.

Those milestones, coupled with the move to CAMLS, have pushed the recent surge in growth and meant a spike in the number of applications, said Erik Rauch, DNP, CRNA, assistant professor and director of the Nurse Anesthesia Concentration at the USF College of Nursing.

“Word is definitely getting out about the quality of our program and our connection with CAMLS has really put us in the national spotlight,” Dr. Rauch said. “We’re drawing a lot of interest and have seen a huge increase in the number of applications, especially from beyond our state. Nearly half of this new class of 33 is from outside of Florida, representing nine other states, as well as Guam.”

“The USF College of Nursing is nationally recognized for our cutting-edge research, and innovative educational programs,” said Dianne Morrison-Beedy, PhD, RN, WHNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP, FAAN, senior associate vice president for USF Health and dean of the College of Nursing. “We are proud to have one of only 112 accredited nurse anesthesia programs in the nation. With the recent move to USF CAMLS, our nurse anesthesia faculty and students have access to world-class simulation technology, including both civilian and military patient simulators, that establishes USF as the leader for nurse anesthesia education and training in the Southeastern United States.”

THE ADVANTAGE IS THE TRAINING
Although the young CRNA program has always had simulation built into its curriculum, its new home at CAMLS offers an entirely new environment with more simulation equipment offering greater specialization, including training suites with 20 anesthesia scenarios.

Photo of Chad Koerlin, Director Erik Rauch, DNP, CRNA, and Charlotte Symonds

CRNA student Charlotte Symonds uses CAMLS simulation to perfect skills under watchful eyes of CRNA program Director Dr. Erick Rauch and fellow student Chad Koerlin.

“USF nurse anesthesia students train on the most advanced, high-fidelity patient simulation in the nation through CAMLS,” said Rita F. D’Aoust, PhD, ANP-BC, CNE, FAANP, associate dean for Academic Affairs, director for Interprofessional Initiatives at the USF College of Nursing.

“And through CAMLS, our students also have opportunities for interprofessional experiences that will give them a decided advantage when they enter their profession. Training with those additional scenarios will help our graduates feel very comfortable when they get to a real hospital setting and the OR. And it’s not just about the scenarios, but about building and practicing strong communications and teamwork skills that will truly make the difference.”

That is exactly the feeling of Michael Lupari, who is a senior in the USF CRNA program.

“Simulation provides the backbone for training anesthetic providers by creating real-life scenarios for rehearsing common and life-threatening problems without any risk to a real patient,” said Lupari, who was a critical care nurse in Fort Lauderdale before moving to Tampa to attend USF.

“As nursing and medical education changes its paradigm to a competency-based curriculum it has become increasingly important to evaluate ability using simulation. On a much larger scale, the public has been the major impetus for these changes as they demand more qualified and competent providers in the medical industry.  One way to meet these changes head-on is through the use of simulation.”

Photo of Joanna Bailey, Lloyd Ohls, Hayley Suratt, and Chad Koerlin

Joanna Bailey, Lloyd Ohls, Hayley Suratt, and Chad Koerlin build important team communication skills at CAMLS

Bolstering that training are three new simulation courses the College was recently approved for and will incorporate into its curriculum starting Fall 2012.

“These new courses complement our desire to offer a unique simulation addition to our anesthesia didactic courses that are already in place,” Dr. Rauch said. “They will allow students to apply everything they are learning in their courses to a simulation operating room environment prior to ever stepping foot in a real operating room. This is a huge benefit to promoting a higher quality education and preparing the most qualified nurse anesthetists upon graduation, which ultimately equates to higher quality care and patient safety.”

A HIGH-DEMAND JOB OPPORTUNITY
A nurse anesthetist is a nurse who has acquired graduate-level education for the administration of anesthesia and is board certified.

CRNAs practice in every setting in which anesthesia is delivered, from traditional hospital surgical suites and obstetrical delivery rooms to offices of dentists, podiatrists, ophthalmologists, plastic surgeons, and pain management specialists, as well as with the U.S. military, Public Health Services, and Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare facilities. CRNAs are the sole anesthesia providers in nearly half of all hospitals and more than two-thirds of the rural hospitals in the United States. Nurse anesthetists also serve our country by providing 100 percent of all anesthetics for the United States Army frontline facilities.

“CRNA’s are in high demand and carry a heavy load of responsibility, but they can expect to be compensated accordingly,” Dr. D’Aoust said. “There are great job opportunities, high autonomy and responsibility, and compensation.”

“Not only do CRNA’s provide more than half of the anesthesia in the nation, they are also the main providers of anesthesia care to U.S. military personnel on the front lines,” Dr. Morrison-Beedy said. “At USF, we have veterans and reservist faculty in our nurse anesthesia program who bring their knowledge and skills of military health issues to train CRNA’s in high demand by all the military services.”

Training nurses for all of these environments before they graduate is the differentiating factor for the USF program. And that difference comes directly from CAMLS, Dr. Rauch said.

“Almost everything we do in the classroom will be coupled with simulation training at CAMLS,” he said. “CAMLS is now THE greatest resource in the country for nursing.”

That fact is front and center for incoming student Marciano. She said she knows her choice to go with USF will help her stand out when it comes to finding a job because the program is that much better.

“I have several friends who are heading to CRNA programs all across the country,” she said. “After hearing about my decision and about USF and about CAMLS, now they’re all saying ‘I wish I had known about that!’ “

Story by Sarah A. Worth, USF Health Office of Communications.
Photos by Ashlea Hudak, USF College of Nursing Communications.