The Department of Nurse Anesthesia at Virginia Commonwealth University was organized in 1969 as a "School" for Nurse Anesthetists.


A Leader in Nurse Anesthesia Education

A School of Nurse Anesthesia was established at VCU in 1969. As such, it was the first teaching program to be implemented in the newly organized School of Allied Health Professions at the Medical College of Virginia Campus. In May 1979, the Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia degree became the first such offering within the profession of nurse anesthesia. While of major importance to the University, it also marked a significant milestone for the specialty of nurse anesthesia.


The graduate program in nurse anesthesia began as a twenty-four (24) month curriculum, graduating its first class in 1981. This program evolved to include a seven-semester, twenty-eight (28) month, didactically front-loaded curriculum designed to provide graduate level education and training. A second hallmark was achieved in 1979 with the approval of a curriculum for the post graduate Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia (MSNA) degree.


The Department of Nurse Anesthesia achieved another milestone in 2007 with the development and approval of the Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice program; the first practice doctorate with a focus specifically on the specialty of nurse anesthesia. The Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP) program is intended to support CRNAs in a more scholarly approach to the discipline and enhance knowledge in the areas of patient safety, evidence-based practice, and leadership.


The Curricula Today

Beginning in January 2017, the MSNA and MSNA-DNAP options will be replaced with a exciting new curriculum. Baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses interested in seeking graduate nurse anesthesia education at VCU will enroll in the entry-to-practice DNAP program option, a nine-semester program of study culminating with the award of the Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice degree and eligibility to take the National Certification Examination (NCE). 


All programs offered by the Department are supported by doctorally-prepared faculty from basic health sciences including medicine, pharmacy, and chemistry. Clinical requirements are met through support of a multitude of healthcare providers at over 40 clinical sites across the Commonwealth of Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, and Tennessee.


The School of Allied Health Profession’s PhD Program in Health-Related Sciences is structured as a four-year course of study and is intended to meet the critical need for doctorally-prepared allied health professionals in the areas of teaching, research, and administration. It offers a curriculum with an interdisciplinary core of courses with specialty tracks in Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Gerontology, Health Administration, Nurse Anesthesia, Occupational Therapy, Patient Counseling, Physical Therapy, Radiation Sciences and Rehabilitation Leadership.  This innovative distance learning program provides a unique opportunity for nurse anesthetists interested in earning a research doctorate.