Critical Care

February 2, 2024

La Salle’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences launched its own Post BSN to DNP Doctor of Nursing Practice Anesthesia program in early 2024.

La Salle University’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences launched an independent post BSN to DNP nurse anesthesia program in January 2024.

Prior to this program, the University partnered with the Frank J. Tornetta School of Anesthesia at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery to prepare nurse anesthetists at the MSN level and in 2023, graduated the first class of doctoral-prepared nurse anesthetists. Under this partnership, La Salle faculty taught the core MSN and DNP classes while the Tornetta faculty taught the 27-month anesthesia clinical residency portion of the program.

The new, independent 41-month program will lead to students earning their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.

The program is being started at the right time. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the expected employment growth for the field is projected to increase 40% from 2021 to 2031. About 30,200 openings for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

Leading this program are Director Chris Giberson, Ph.D., and Assistant Director Tara Pettit, Ph.D.

The first cohort will graduate in spring 2027. After a successful on-site visit in November, the program received its accreditation by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA).

Upon completion of the program, graduates will earn their La Salle degree and will be eligible to take the National Certification Examination administered by the National Board for Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA).

“The new post BSN to DNP nurse anesthesia program at La Salle University is a cutting-edge nurse anesthesia program that places the adult learner in focus,” Giberson said. “The first year provides an optimal transition into graduate learning through foundational coursework and doctoral project introduction presented in a fully online, distance education format. Year two of the post BSN to DNP nurse anesthesia program at La Salle University
swiftly moves into the anesthesia-centric coursework while still maintaining experiences in research and doctoral project development. Clinical opportunities are introduced in year two and the nurse anesthesia learner is assimilated into the clinical arena after optimal didactic and simulation training fostering success. The program continues with a didactic and clinical component until graduation.”

The students in the program will receive an innovative curriculum that was created with their learning in mind. Students will also have access to a state-of-the-art simulation lab including anesthesia workstations, simulation mannequins, and other high-end tools and instruments, thanks in part to a $500,000 grant from the Regina Charitable Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation that was received in mid-September.

Students will learn about anesthesia from experts from across the country alongside La Salle’s on-site faculty.

“The program will focus on individuals while building a ’team’ with each cohort. Simulation will be used to support education throughout the program. The student will graduate well prepared, having the tools to deliver anesthesia in any clinical setting while feeling supported throughout the program,” Giberson said.

This new curriculum will build on the University’s previous partnership to keep the legacy of Dr. Frank J. Tornetta—a leading anesthesiologist in the Philadelphia area who passed away in 2009—and his “golden nuggets for a successful career in anesthesia” intact, Kathleen Czekanski, Ph.D., R.N., CNE, School of Nursing and Health Sciences dean said.

Czekanski shared that Tornetta’s “golden nuggets” stressed the importance and value of practicing the profession in a kind and compassionate manner, adhering to the code of ethics, teaching others, lifelong learning, and caring for themselves.

“Dr. Tornetta would say, ’A living is made by what we earn. A life is made by what we do for others. Think in terms of human values and not valuables,’” Czekanski recalled.

Czekanski and graduate program Chair Patricia Dillion, Ph.D., have been working to bring this program to life since 2021. This includes securing clinical sites for students in highly competitive hospitals around the Philadelphia area.

“Based on the reputation we have, we’ve had excellent outcomes,” Czekanski said.

Czekanski is confident that this program will be a success due to the demand for healthcare workers and the desire for high quality nurse anesthesia providers.

The first cohort of 16 students began in January 2024. As part of the recruitment process they received numerous applicants who are excited to be a part of the La Salle post BSN to DNP nursing anesthesia program.

“I am extremely excited about seeing the interest in such well-rounded, highly intelligent, critical care nurses who are currently applying. Our students will be leaders at the facility, state, and national level. Our future is bright as a nurse anesthesia profession and as La Salle University,” Giberson said.

-Maria Johnson