The program, which is 36 months in length, is designed to integrate academic and clinical disciplines. During the first 12 months, students complete the majority of their basic science courses. These courses are taught by UMKC faculty within the UMKC School of Biological Sciences, School of Pharmacy and School of Nursing and Health Studies. Following a broad fields orientation to nurse anesthesia, students are introduced to the clinical area. Initially, students are assigned to elective surgery patients who are relatively free of significant pathology. As the students’ clinical skills progress, they are assigned to cases of increasing complexity requiring emergency, obstetrical and pediatric procedures, as well as to patients with significant pathological conditions.
In addition to general anesthesia using mask, laryngeal mask airway, or tracheal intubation techniques, students perform and manage subarachnoid (spinal), epidural, upper and lower extremity nerve blocks. Also, placement of central venous, pulmonary artery, and radial artery catheterization during open heart surgical procedures and trauma cases is performed by students. Senior students provide 24-hour supervised coverage of Truman Medical Center’s high-risk labor and delivery unit.
Academic and clinical knowledge is integrated throughout the 24-month clinical practicum through nurse anesthesia courses, correlative conferences, morbidity and mortality conferences, journal club and high fidelity simulation. Evaluation of student clinical performance is a tool that helps the student identify his or her strengths and limitations, and provides a basis on which to plan for continued growth of clinical skills.
The relationship between the student and the clinical instructor is a dynamic one. At first, the student is a dependent learner, while the instructor provides information, guidance and support to the student. Gradually, this relationship changes as the student’s knowledge base and clinical skills grow, and the instructor allows the student to make increasingly complex decisions while continuing to provide a source of support and guidance.
Ultimately, the student attains the level of skill expected of the beginning practitioner of nurse anesthesia while the instructor acts as consultant.