Nurse anesthetists school costly

JONESBORO (KAIT) There is a huge demand for nurse anesthetist and the schools to train them are few and far between.

Fortunately for Region Eight, ASU has the only program in the state.

The program is both demanding and expensive.

In rural America nurse anesthetists are the primary anesthesia providers for many hospitals and other medical facilities.

A-S-U's program is one of the few in the nation and the graduates are in high demand.

Dr. Susan Hanrahan is the Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions. She says the nurse anesthetists have been around for nearly 150 years.

"Nurse anesthetists for a very long time have been filling a very special need not only in urban areas but especially in rural areas."

Nearly 100% of rural hospitals in America use CRNA's.

ASU's program began in 2003 and admits around 45 students each January into the program.

All applicants have to have a BN degree and at least 2 years critical care experience such as an ER or surgery.

Hanrahan, "Our students are BSN students who go and spend 2 and a half years in formalized training for nurse anesthesia."

The course requires 83 hours of classroom and nearly 3 Thousand hours of practicum. These hours  can be accomplished at 26 sites in Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee .

The students train on the same equipment they will use in the real world, when the new lab building opens this fall there will be even newer equipment and simulators.

Besides taking the 28 months, the CRNA program is expensive.

Hanrahan, "An expense of about 27 thousand dollars for tuition, fees and they will still have to pay for their books. However when the students finish the program their compensation to be a nurse anesthetist is very healthy."

Salaries can run into 6 digits for a CRNA.

An annual stipend from the Health Resources Services Administration of over 26-thousand dollars will help some students with the costs.

Dr. Hanrahan says it's not enough to pay a whole tuition for one student but the money can be spread around. "It won't pay the whole cost but for students who have a special need for example we can certainly provide them some monies dedicated for that purpose."

Dr. Hanrahan says a graduate of the program will be ready to hit the ground running.

"Lot of things happening very quickly, very complex. You have to be good at problem solving, critical thinking bring a lot of material together in a very short period of time."