For those of you who don’t know much about nurse anesthesiology, look no further than your backyard.
Started in 1952, the Missouri State University School of Anesthesia is one of roughly 115 in the country. If that’s not unique enough, they also boast an impressive skills lab and an equally stunning simulation lab.
“Watch out, because our program just continues to get better,” said Dr. Monika Feeney, director of the School of Anesthesia and interim director of the School of Nursing at MSU.
Staying ahead of the curve
This program is not for the faint of heart.
Only 24 students are admitted each year.
Before admission, students must first undergo a lengthy process to achieve the title of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA):
- Become a nurse.
- Work one to upward of five years in intensive care.
- Apply to the graduate/doctorate anesthesiology program.
“Being a CRNA is a lot of responsibility and pressure to place on a person,” Feeney said. “For that reason, it’s a difficult program. It’s probably one of the hardest things to endure.
“But it’s so worth it, in the end.”
Making headway toward the future
With the addition of a new skills lab and simulation lab, Feeney explains that the nurse anesthesiology department has more advantages to provide students.
“We have a beautiful simulation lab that looks just like an operating room (OR),” Feeney said.
The simulation lab is modeled after an OR theater, making it the perfect place to watch or practice how procedures are performed and how anesthesia is done.
“We also have a stellar skills lab fully equipped for practicing multiple techniques,” Feeney added.
The skills lab enables students to practice the following anesthesia maneuvers:
- Central line placement.
- Ultrasound block placement.
- Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) testing.
“I love seeing the lightbulb turn on within students and the understanding as it’s taking place,” Feeney said. “Our labs provide that space for them to become acclimated and gain confidence.”
Bringing Bear pride wherever they go
Feeney is extremely proud of the anesthesiology program and her flourishing students.
Students handle over 1,000 clinical cases by the time they graduate, giving them a surplus of hands-on experience.
To put that into perspective, the national requirement for anesthesiology students is only 600 cases, so Missouri State’s program goes above and beyond.
“Employers love our students because they hit the ground running,” Feeney said.
There are over 50 clinical sites nationwide where students are sent to expand their horizons and build experience.
Students typically visit at least four during their time in the program, so they can get a good sense for which part of the country they’d eventually like to work in.
They often get offered jobs on the spot at one or more of the locations they visit.
“We hold life in our hands,” Feeney said. “Our job is essential — to keep you alive while the surgeon does what he or she needs to.”