Share This Page

Excela, St. Vincent to start doctoral program in nurse anesthesia

| Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

Nurse anesthetists will be able to earn a doctorate in anesthesia in Westmoreland County beginning next fall through a program that the Excela Health School of Anesthesia and St. Vincent College jointly operate.

The new, 30-credit program will enable certified registered nurse anesthetists to become doctors in nurse anesthesia practice. Students completing the program can either teach or remain in practice, said Dr. Beverly Silvis, director of the Excela Health School of Anesthesia.

“As the areas of expertise within our field of practice become more specialized, the need arises to have an advanced level of educational knowledge,” Silvis said.

The new doctoral program will allow Excela to comply with the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists' call for a doctoral-level program by 2025 for all anesthesia programs, Silvis said. The new program is one of only a handful in the United States to accommodate the needs of working nurse anesthetists, she said.

Graduates of the program will complement to Excela's existing family medicine residency graduates as the health system strives to provide highly trained clinicians, said Dr. Carol J. Fox, interim chief medical officer.

The doctoral program seeks to develop nurse anesthetists with superior levels of knowledge in anesthesia theory and practice and to establish new standards of quality and care, said John Smetanka, vice president for academic affairs at St. Vincent.

Excela Health announced in 2009 that it would work with St. Vincent College to start an entry-level doctoral program in nurse anesthesia by 2015. Nurses with a bachelor's degree could earn a doctorate in anesthesia without earning a master's degree, Silvis said.

St. Vincent and Excela Health currently offer a 28-month program that allows nurses with a bachelor's degree to earn a master of science degree in health science, with an emphasis in nurse anesthesia. The program prepares students to pass a national examination to become certified registered nurse anesthetists who have the authority to administer anesthesia and monitor a patient's recovery.

Excela Health and St. Vincent College began the joint graduate-level program leading to a master of science in health science degree in 2005. Each year, several hundred prospective students from across the nation apply for about 30 spaces in this program, officials said.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.