TCU Daily Skiff Thursday, April 15, 2004
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New anesthesia program produces skilled nurses
Graduate student enrollment is up 140 percent in the College of Health and Human Sciences from three years ago.

By Lori Russell
Staff Reporter

Two graduate programs in the College of Health and Human Sciences are helping to meet the need for more qualified nurses, officials say.

The School of Nursing’s master of science in nursing and the School of Nurse Anesthesia’s master of science in nurse anesthesia are largely responsible for TCU’s 14 percent increase in graduate student enrollments over the last three years, Provost William Koehler says.

Enrollments in the College of Health and Human Sciences increased more than 140 percent, from 56 in 2001 to 135 in 2003.

Licensed nurses in the United States who have practiced for at least one year are able to participate in the Harris School of Nursing’s online classes from anywhere in the world.
“Right now we have one student in Washington state, and the rest are from all over Texas,” said Paulette Burns, director of the nursing program. “We plan for more enrollment. We still have room to grow in this program.”

There is an increasing demand for health-care professionals with specialized skills in areas such as surgical nursing and anesthesia, Burns said.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that registered nurses top the list for largest projected job growth through 2012.

“Our (graduate) program is in medical-surgical nursing. This program is best designed to meet the immediate need of the nursing profession,” Burns said.

Forty-three students have earned their graduate degrees since the nursing program began in 2001.

The newest graduate program, the School of Nurse Anesthesia, is one of only four such programs statewide. There are 63 students in the first class, which started in August 2003.

“We want to try to keep our enrollment in the 60s for the next few years and make sure everything remains well-organized and under control,” said Kay Sanders, director of the anesthesia program. “We can probably attain a maximum enrollment of 85 eventually, but we want to approach that growth slowly.”

The program has two phases. Phase I begins each August and is completed the following August.

“It’s incredible how much you learn, and you realize you have to learn everything you’re being taught in anatomy and physiology, chemistry and pharmacology,” said Amy Drake, an anesthesia student.

The first semester must be completed in residence, but students have the option of distance study during the spring and summer semesters of Phase I, Sanders said.
Students are required to have at least one year of critical care experience to be accepted in the program.

“It’s been very humbling for me,” said Wendy Stewart, an anesthesia student. “A lot of us have three to four years experience, so you think you are a nurse that knows a lot and then you come here and find out how much there is to learn.”

Students must enter Phase II, which lasts about 16 months, immediately after completing Phase I, Sanders said.

Students are also required to maintain a high GPA. Many courses require a minimum of a B, and students are not allowed more than 2 Cs throughout the program.

The first anesthesia class started in 2003, so the first graduates will turn their tassels to the side in 2005.

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