Michael D. Fallacaro, D.N.S., CRNA, FAAN
Professor and chair

The program was first organized in 1969 as the School of Nurse Anesthetists, thus becoming the first academic program to be implemented in the newly organized School of Allied Health Professions.

A letter of intent for a proposed Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia program was submitted to the commonwealth’s Council on Higher Education in 1977. When approved in May 1978, the graduate degree in nurse anesthesia 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. The first class of graduate students was admitted in the fall of 1979 and graduated in the fall of 1981. A second hallmark was achieved in 2007 with approval of the Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice program. The first Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists entered the post-master’s DNAP program in January 2008. Soon to mark the beginning of a new era, the program anticipates enrollment of the first cohort of students into the entry-to-practice DNAP option in 2017. The VCU Graduate Council approved this transition in 2015 and the application for approval by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs was submitted in February 2016.

Mission and philosophy

Mission

The mission of Virginia Commonwealth University is to provide a fertile and stimulating environment for learning, teaching, research, creative expression and public service. Essential to the life of the university is a faculty actively engaged in scholarship and creative exploration — activities that increase knowledge and understanding of the world and that inspire and enrich teaching.

The university is dedicated to educating full- and part-time students of all ages and diverse backgrounds in an atmosphere of free inquiry and scholarship so that they may realize their full potential as informed, productive citizens with a lifelong commitment to learning and service.

The mission of the Department of Nurse Anesthesia is to provide learners with the knowledge and skills necessary to work as part of an interprofessional team to serve the public through the delivery of safe, cost-efficient, quality anesthesia services and to develop leaders and scholars who will advance the specialty of nurse anesthesia through research, scholarship and public service. The department achieves this mission by establishing an environment that promotes excellence, values diversity, stimulates creativity and recognizes achievement.

Philosophy

The philosophy of the department reflects the core values of the faculty and provides the foundation for the curriculum. The department’s philosophy is synergistic with the mission and goals of VCU and the School of Allied Health Professions.

The department is a social agency dedicated to the education and development of health care professionals in the specialty of nurse anesthesia. Consequently, the faculty recognizes and accepts the responsibility entrusted to it for the learning experiences for its graduate students.

The philosophical orientation of the faculty is that learning is a developmental process through which cognitive, affective and psychomotor behaviors are developed and modified. This process includes the acquisition of information, the transfer and application of knowledge, the evaluation of new skills, and the development of a professional attitude and bearing.

The faculty further subscribes to the belief that the learning process is both positive and rewarding for the student; that it is a transaction between the student and teacher executed through formal and informal processes with an objective to prepare knowledgeable and skillful graduates. Hence, learning is a lifelong process that results in a change in thinking, valuing and behaving. The educational process includes teacher-learner interaction in setting goals, selecting and assessing learning experiences, determining instructional methods, and evaluating the learner’s progress. Learning experiences are designed to facilitate continuity in attainment of knowledge, skills and attitudes consistent with educational objectives, the individual needs of students and safe patient care. Students are respected as unique individuals possessing dignity, worth and the right to equity in educational opportunities. Faculty and students share the responsibility for creating an educational climate that reflects democratic values, fosters intellectual inquiry and creativity and encourages the maximum development of each individual’s potential.

The American health care system is becoming progressively complex. Technological advances and changing economic patterns foster competition for scarce resources while the patient population is becoming quite diverse. It is increasingly essential for the CRNA to provide care in a manner that collaborates with and values the contribution of other health professionals. As advanced practice nurses working in an ever-changing health care system, CRNAs are well-positioned for roles in research, teaching, policy-making and resource management and as integral members of interprofessional teams.

Graduate education in nurse anesthesia builds upon the education and experiences of the professional registered nurse holding an appropriate baccalaureate degree. Graduates are prepared, through a frame of academic excellence, to become proficient advanced-practice providers and leaders in the specialty and to make scholarly contributions to the health care system and community.

Nurse anesthesia

NRSA 601. Principles and Practice of Nurse Anesthesia I. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Introduces the nurse anesthesia graduate student to concepts necessary to plan and execute safe and individualized anesthetics. Covers formulation of the anesthesia care plan, anesthetic techniques, prevention of complications, fluid management, monitoring and utilization of anesthesia equipment.

NRSA 602. Principles and Practice of Nurse Anesthesia II. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 3 credits. Second in a series of six principles and practice courses. Presents fundamental concepts and techniques essential to clinical anesthesia practice focusing on the theoretical and practical considerations involved in the administration and management of major nerve conduction anesthesia and acute pain management.

NRSA 603. Principles and Practice of Nurse Anesthesia III. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Third in a series of six principles and practice courses. Delineates techniques of anesthesia management that are considered situation specific for specialized procedures, diagnostic or individualized procedures including advanced airway management and anesthesia care individualized for the patient with cardiovascular and respiratory conditions.

NRSA 604. Principles and Practice of Nurse Anesthesia IV. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 2 semester hours. 2 credits. Fourth in a series of six principles and practice courses. Intensively covers the advanced concepts and principles of anesthetic management with an emphasis on pediatric, obstetric, endocrine and hematological disorders.

NRSA 605. Principles and Practice of Nurse Anesthesia V. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Fifth in a series of six principles and practice courses. Intensively covers the advanced concepts and principles of anesthetic management with an emphasis on neuro-anesthesia and anesthesia delivery in specialty settings.

NRSA 606. Principles and Practice of Nurse Anesthesia VI. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Last in a series of six principles and practice courses. Intensively covers the advanced concepts and principles of anesthetic management with an emphasis on crisis management.

NRSA 611. Advanced Physiological Concepts for the Nurse Anesthetist. 1 Hour.

Semester course; 1 lecture hour. 1 credit. Analyzes complex relationships between body systems and anesthesia. Demonstrates how advanced concepts of physiology and biochemistry relate to concepts of anesthesia theory and practice.

NRSA 620. Advanced Health Assessment for Nurse Anesthetists I. 1 Hour.

Semester course; 1 lecture hour. 1 credit. Provides a systematic approach to advanced health assessment emphasizing best research evidence, cultural competence and anesthetic implications. Accentuates advanced pre-operative and postoperative concepts, diagnosis and approaches for the assessment of human systems in the anesthesia setting focusing on the pulmonary (upper and lower airway), hematologic and vascular systems. Reviews cardinal techniques of inspection, palpation, percussion and auscultation.

NRSA 621. Advanced Health Assessment for Nurse Anesthetists II. 1 Hour.

Semester course; 1 lecture hour. 1 credit. Provides a systematic approach to advanced health assessment emphasizing best research evidence, cultural competence and anesthetic implications. Accentuates advanced pre-operative and post-operative concepts, diagnosis and approaches for the assessment of human systems in the anesthesia setting focusing on the neurological, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal systems.

NRSA 622. Clinical Practicum I-II. 1 Hour.

Continuous courses; 112 clock hours (I) and 3 lecture hours (II). 1 credit (I) and 3 credits (II). Introduces clinical care with supervised participation in actual administration of anesthesia. Demonstrates internalization of theoretical concepts and techniques and application in anesthetic management toward the achievement of the terminal objectives for competency in entry-level anesthesia practice. NRSA 623 graded as S/U/F.

NRSA 623. Clinical Practicum I-II. 3 Hours.

Continuous courses; 112 clock hours (I) and 3 lecture hours (II). 1 credit (I) and 3 credits (II). Introduces clinical care with supervised participation in actual administration of anesthesia. Demonstrates internalization of theoretical concepts and techniques and application in anesthetic management toward the achievement of the terminal objectives for competency in entry-level anesthesia practice. NRSA 623 graded as S/U/F.

NRSA 624. Clinical Practicum III. 6 Hours.

675 clock hours. 6 credits. Provides intensive experience in all clinical anesthesia areas. All course work represents an integral phase of sequenced clinical progress toward the achievement of competency in entry-level anesthesia practice. Includes clinical rotations to various affiliate sites to gain experience in management of specialized anesthetic considerations. Emphasis on greater responsibility for a total anesthetic regime along the educational experiential continuum.

NRSA 625. Clinical Practicum IV. 6 Hours.

675 clock hours. 6 credits. Provides intensive experience in all clinical anesthesia areas. All course work represents an integral phase of sequenced clinical progress toward the achievement of competency in entry-level anesthesia practice. Includes clinical rotations to various affiliate sites to gain experience in management of specialized anesthetic considerations. Emphasis on greater responsibility for a total anesthetic regime along the educational experiential continuum.

NRSA 626. Clinical Practicum V. 6 Hours.

675 clock hours. 6 credits. Provides intensive experience in all clinical anesthesia areas. All course work represents an integral phase of sequenced clinical progress toward the achievement of competency in entry-level anesthesia practice. Includes clinical rotations to various affiliate sites to gain experience in management of specialized anesthetic considerations. Emphasis on greater responsibility for a total anesthetic regime along the educational experiential continuum.

NRSA 627. Clinical Practicum VI. 6 Hours.

675 clock hours. 6 credits. Provides intensive experience in all clinical anesthesia areas. All course work represents an integral phase of sequenced clinical progress toward the achievement of competency in entry-level anesthesia practice. Includes clinical rotations to various affiliate sites to gain experience in management of specialized anesthetic considerations. Emphasis on greater responsibility for a total anesthetic regime along the educational experiential continuum.

NRSA 633. Pathophysiology for Nurse Anesthetists. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Covers various pathological conditions and diseases of specific concern to the anesthesia provider with an emphasis on cardiovascular, respiratory, excretory, endocrine, infectious diseases, nutritional, neuromuscular and neurological disorders.

NRSA 642. Professional Aspects of Anesthesia Practice I. 1 Hour.

Semester course; 1 lecture hour. 1 credit. Provides the graduate nurse anesthesia student an opportunity to focus on a variety of professional issues including but not restricted to the history of nurse anesthesia, roles of the nurse anesthetist and the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, professional involvement, governmental and nongovernmental regulations of nurse anesthesia practice and standards of care.

NRSA 645. Professional Aspects of Anesthesia Practice II. 1 Hour.

Semester course; 1 lecture hour. 1 credit. Provides the graduate nurse anesthesia student an opportunity to focus on a variety of professional issues including but not restricted to health care delivery systems, assessing and selecting practice settings and employment options, medical ethics and chemical dependency.

NRSA 647. Professional Aspects of Anesthesia Practice III. 1 Hour.

Semester course; 1 lecture hour. 1 credit. Provides the graduate nurse anesthesia student an opportunity to focus on a variety of professional issues including but not restricted to reimbursement, influencing health care policy, competence, quality assessment, risk management, departmental management, nurse anesthesia and the legal system, documentation of anesthesia care and current issues and their potential effects on the profession of nurse anesthesia.

NRSA 676. Teaching Methodologies for the Nurse Anesthetist. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Covers principles of teacher/learner communication, presentation strategies and methods of evaluation pertinent to nurse anesthesia education and includes instructional tools, their application and instructional design.

NRSA 683. Research Methods in Nurse Anesthesia Practice. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Required of all nurse anesthesia students. Understands and applies the steps involved in the research process. Emphasizes concepts, procedures and processes appropriate for use in research. Develops a research proposal by exploring a topic in the area of anesthesiology. Applies inferential and advanced statistical tests to hypothetical data. Critically analyzes and evaluates anesthesia research studies.

NRSA 684. Evidence-based Decision Making in Nurse Anesthesia. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Focuses on providing a foundation in the literature relevant to nurse anesthesia practice. Emphasis placed on establishing a scientific framework for clinical interventions and critiquing the literature in a systematic fashion. Course will culminate in a broad overview of scientific foundations for nurse anesthesia practice in selected domains.

NRSA 701. Human Factors and Patient Safety for Nurse Anesthetists. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Explores the theoretical basis of human error, patient safety and quality assurance in anesthesia care. Introduces a systems approach to error investigation and analysis. Integrates concepts of teamwork, crisis management, simulation and monitoring systems in anesthesia practice. Crosslisted as: DNAP 701.

Nurse anesthesia laboratory

NRSZ 601. Laboratory in Principles and Practice of Nurse Anesthesia I. 1 Hour.

Semester course; 3 laboratory hours. 1 credit. Provides the nurse anesthesia graduate student guided practical experience associated with those concepts presented in NRSA 601. Includes practice in and evaluation of task-specific skills in both simulated and actual operating room environments.

 Nurse anesthesia - DNAP

DNAP 701. Human Factors and Patient Safety for Nurse Anesthetists. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Explores the theoretical basis of human error, patient safety and quality assurance in anesthesia care. Introduces a systems approach to error investigation and analysis. Integrates concepts of teamwork, crisis management, simulation and monitoring systems in anesthesia practice. Crosslisted as: NRSA 701.

DNAP 702. Nurse Anesthesia Patient Safety Seminar. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: DNAP/NRSA 701. Focuses on analysis of adverse anesthesia events from a systems perspective, use of multidisciplinary teams to solve management problems and constructive techniques for communicating with patients, families and health care providers who are involved in medical errors.

DNAP 703. Health Services Delivery Systems for the Nurse Anesthetist. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Provides the necessary scientific foundation, both in theory and practice application, to explore the structure and function of the U.S. health care delivery system as it specifically relates to specialized nurse anesthesia practice, the components of select theories and the translation of these theories to practice.

DNAP 704. Advanced Physiology/Pathophysiology for Nurse Anesthetists I. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Examines normal human physiology and pathophysiology using a body-systems approach, with emphasis on the interrelationships between form and function at the gross and cellular levels of organization. Includes analysis of cellular structure and function as well as the individual components of body systems.

DNAP 705. Advanced Physiology/Pathophysiology for Nurse Anesthetists II. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: DNAP 704. Examines normal human physiology and pathophysiology using a body-systems approach with emphasis on the interrelationships between form and function at the gross and cellular levels of organization. Includes an analysis of cellular structure and function as well as the individual components of body systems. Incorporates an overview of genetics.

DNAP 706. Advanced Pharmacology for Nurse Anesthetists I. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Provides an opportunity to focus on the advanced principles of anesthesia related to pharmacology. Presents in-depth material on the pharmacology of various classes of anesthetics and adjuvant therapeutics employed by nurse anesthetists, with an emphasis on general anesthetics.

DNAP 707. Advanced Pharmacology for Nurse Anesthetists II. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: DNAP 706. Provides an opportunity to focus on the advanced principles of anesthesia-related pharmacology. Includes discussions on adjuvant therapeutics employed by nurse anesthetists, with an emphasis on local anesthetics.

DNAP 711. Policy and Practice for Nurse Anesthetists. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Examines governmental and non-governmental issues that influence nurse anesthesia practice. Focuses on developing skills that contribute to leadership and personal effectiveness in impletmenting change in nurse anesthesia and health care. Emphasizes interdisciplinary relationships between CRNAs, nurses, physicians, administrators, policy-makers and other key stakeholders.

DNAP 712. Leadership in Nurse Anesthesia Education. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Examines principles of teaching and learning applicable to the anesthesia didactic and clinical environment. Presents strategies in teacher/learner communication, presentation development and strategies, curriculum design and methods of evaluation pertinent to nurse anesthesia education.

DNAP 716. Advanced Chemistry and Physics Concepts for Nurse Anesthetists. 1 Hour.

Semester course; 1 lecture hour. 1 credit. Provides advanced theoretical foundations of chemistry, biochemistry and physics relevant for critical application to the practice of anesthesia nursing utilizing the hybrid (blended learning) format.

DNAP 717. Advanced Physiological Concepts for Nurse Anesthetists. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Explores properties of advanced physiology including physiology terms, levels of organization of the human body, homeostasis and feedback systems, anatomic terms, planes and sections, cell physiology and diffusion, transport systems, pressure-volume relationships, pressure-flow-resistance relationships, Fick’s principle, the Frank-Starling relationship, and math for physiology utilizing the hybrid (blended learning) format.

DNAP 718. Advanced Health Assessment for Nurse Anesthetists. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Provides a systematic, evidence-based, advanced physical, psychosocial and cultural evaluation of human systems to acquire and analyze relevant information for the development of a comprehensive patient assessment. Emphasizes advanced preoperative and postoperative techniques in a process whereby the learner translates information pertinent to anesthesia care into practice. Focuses on the symptom and health problem assessment and selection and interpretation of screening and diagnostic tests in order to implement an informed plan of care. Utilizes the hybrid (blended learning) format.

DNAP 721. Clinical Practicum I. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 300 clocked clinical hours. 3 credits. Introduces clinical care with supervised participation in actual administration of anesthesia. Demonstrates internalization of theoretical concepts and techniques and application in anesthetic management toward the achievement of the terminal objectives for competency in entry-level anesthesia practice. Graded S/U/F.

DNAP 722. Clinical Practicum II. 4 Hours.

Semester course; 400 clocked clinical hours. 4 credits. Prerequisite: DNAP 721. Introduces clinical care with supervised participation in actual administration of anesthesia. Demonstrates internalization of theoretical concepts and techniques and application in anesthetic management toward the achievement of the terminal objectives for competency in entry-level anesthesia practice. Graded S/U/F.

DNAP 723. Clinical Practicum III. 5 Hours.

Semester course; 500 clocked hours. 5 credits. Prerequisite: DNAP 722. Provides intensive experience in all clinical anesthesia areas. Represents an integral phase of sequenced clinical progress toward the achievement of competency in entry-level anesthesia practice. Includes clinical rotations to various affiliate sites to gain experience in management of specialized anesthetic considerations. Emphasizes increased responsibility for the delivery of a comprehensive anesthetic regime along the educational/experiential continuum. Graded S/U/F.

DNAP 724. Clinical Practicum IV. 5 Hours.

Semester course; 500 clocked clinical hours. 5 credits. Prerequisite: DNAP 723. Provides intensive experience in all clinical anesthesia areas. Represents an integral phase of sequenced clinical progress toward the achievement of competency in entry-level anesthesia practice. Includes clinical rotations to various affiliate sites to gain experience in management of specialized anesthetic considerations. Emphasizes increased responsibility for the delivery of a comprehensive anesthetic regime along the educational/experiential continuum. Graded S/U/F.

DNAP 725. Clinical Practicum V. 5 Hours.

Semester course; 500 clocked clinical hours. 5 credits. Prerequisite: DNAP 724. Provides intensive experience in all clinical anesthesia areas. Represents an integral phase of sequenced clinical progress toward the achievement of competency in entry-level anesthesia practice. Includes clinical rotations to various affiliate sites to gain experience in management of specialized anesthetic considerations. Emphasizes increased responsibility for the delivery of a comprehensive anesthetic regime along the educational/experiential continuum. Graded S/U/F.

DNAP 731. Professional Aspects of Nurse Anesthesia Practice. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Provides an opportunity to focus on a variety of professional issues including but not restricted to the history of nurse anesthesia, professional practice roles, settings and responsibilities of the nurse anesthetist, effective communications, accountability and patient advocacy, cultural competency, professional involvement, code of ethics, regulations, and standards of practice using a hybrid (blended learning) format.

DNAP 733. Evidence-based Decision-making in Nurse Anesthesia. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Provides a foundation of literature relevant to nurse anesthesia practice. Emphasizes a systematic framework that is termed “evidence-based practice” for clinical interventions and critiquing the literature in an appropriate and manageable fashion. Culminates in a broad overview of scientific foundations for nurse anesthesia practice in selected domains. Utilizes the hybrid (blended learning) format.

DNAP 734. Research Methods and Statistical Measures in Nurse Anesthesia Practice. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Examines relationships among theory, research and causal inference; quantitative and qualitative methodologies will be considered. Surveys issues relevant to research design, measurement, data collection, statistical analysis, interpretation and ethical issues in conducting research — and grounded in work in the domain of anesthesia and critical care. Prepares students to access, critically evaluate and utilize research-based literature and independently initiate a systematic approach to addressing a research hypothesis or research question. Utilizes a hybrid (blended learning) format.

DNAP 735. Principles and Practice of Nurse Anesthesia Practice I. 4 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture and 3 laboratory hours. 4 credits. Introduces the nurse anesthesia student to concepts necessary to plan and execute safe and individualized anesthetics. Covers formulation of the anesthesia care plan, anesthetic techniques, prevention of complications, fluid management, monitoring and utilization of anesthesia equipment. Provides guided practical experience associated with course concepts, including practice with and evaluation of task-specific skills in both simulated and actual operating room environments.

DNAP 736. Principles and Practice of Nurse Anesthesia II. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: DNAP 735. Delineates techniques of anesthesia management that are considered situation-specific for specialized procedures, diagnostic or individualized procedures, including advanced airway management and anesthesia care individualized for the patient with cardiovascular or respiratory conditions.

DNAP 737. Principles and Practice of Nurse Anesthesia III. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: DNAP 736. Presents fundamental concepts and techniques essential to clinical anesthesia practice focusing on the theoretical and practical considerations involved in the administration and management of regional anesthesia and pain management.

DNAP 738. Principles and Practice of Nurse Anesthesia IV. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Prerequisite: DNAP 737. Covers the advanced concepts and principles of anesthetic management in obstetrics, pediatrics, hematologic disorders and endocrine disorders.

DNAP 739. Principles and Practice of Nurse Anesthesia V. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Prerequisite: DNAP 738. Covers the advanced concepts and principles of anesthetic management including anesthesia delivery in specialty settings and other specialty topics.

DNAP 789. Nurse Anesthesia Professional Practice. 1-6 Hours.

Semester course; variable clinical hours. 1-6 credits (100 clinical hours per credit). May be repeated up to six credits. Emphasizes analysis and evaluation of experiential learning through the use of critical thinking skills and reflection. Explores concepts of competency and expertise. Focuses on methods of determining best anesthesia practices through identification of problems, review and systematic evaluation of current research, and consideration of economic and other factors that may impact patient outcomes. Graded as S, U or F.

DNAP 799. Nurse Anesthesia Capstone Project. 1-6 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. 1-6 credits. May be repeated up to six credits. Prerequisites: DNAP 701 and ALHP 708. Focuses on identification of relevant clinical issues in anesthesiology with attendant formulation of critically applicable questions and examination of the relevant research evidence that addresses those questions. Students implement and evaluate a terminal project and disseminate the results through an oral and/or poster presentation, manuscript submission to a peer-reviewed journal or another appropriate medium. Graded as S, U or F.