USD addressing state’s nurse anesthetist shortage with new program

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VERMILLION, S.D. (KCAU) — The University of South Dakota will be offering a new program to help build the state of South Dakota’s healthcare system for years to come.

USD’s School of Health Sciences announced a decision on Thursday that brought optimism to healthcare providers across the region. A new wave of CRNAs, or certified registered nurse anesthetists, is on the way.

As work continues on the new health science building in Vermillion, optimism continues to grow for the health science department at USD, as the school said it will offer a DNAP, or Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice program at its community college in Sioux Falls.

Haifa Abou Samra, the dean of health sciences at USD said this type of education can’t be installed overnight.

“Is this something that’s going to be a viable option for us? Because it’s a program that requires a lot of resources and it has a high intensity when it comes to clinical requirements. It’s a very involved program,” Abou Samra said.

Dr. Tim Ridgway, the dean of the Sanford School of Medicine, said USD is in a position to offer this program due to its ongoing partnership with Sanford Health.

“We have faculty on our medical school staff in anesthesiology and in other areas. We have the infrastructure in Vermillion, our basic biomedical sciences to offer the foundational curriculum, so we were able to put together what we think will be a high quality program.”

Nurse anesthetists help in a wide variety of settings, like assisting surgeons, pain management, or even dental offices, and are desperately needed in South Dakota.

“In rural areas, there’s a high demand for CRNAs. And in South Dakota, like 83 percent of the counties, of rural counties, use CNRAs to support their procedures and patient care,” said Abou Samra.

Applications for the CRNA program will be accepted will be accepted starting in the summer of 2023, giving the school time to complete the process on all accreditations required.

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