UWO ready for first class of nurse anesthetist students

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist - June 15, 2017Students bring a wealth of experience to state’s first doctor of nursing practice (DNP) nurse anesthesia program.

Students in the inaugural class of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Nurse Anesthetist Program have arrived on campus and are enthusiastically kicking off the first leg of their journey to becoming nurse anesthetists. The nurse anesthesia program is Wisconsin’s first doctoral-level nurse anesthetist program.

With 30 percent of all certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) set to retire in the next five years, UW Oshkosh College of Nursing (CON) developed the program to help alleviate the shortage in Wisconsin. Nurse anesthesia is UWO’s second Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) emphasis; the Family Nurse Practitioner emphasis launched in 2010.

Feature-2_Pg6_300The 12 students who make up the first cohort represent diverse professional backgrounds and bring a wealth of knowledge to this exclusive program. “I can’t wait to begin and to immerse myself into learning,” said Jason Schultz of Sun Prairie. “I look forward to meeting the faculty and staff, my fellow students and to begin this intensive journey to become part of UW Oshkosh’s first nurse anesthesia class.”

Army veteran Schultz was a member of the Old Guard special unit. He was responsible for funerals in Arlington National Cemetery, greeting foreign nationals and presidential ceremonies, which included meeting both presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and taking part in Obama’s inauguration. After receiving a disability discharge from the Army in 2009, Schultz headed back to Wisconsin from Washington D.C.

Schultz enrolled in the traditional nursing program at Marian University with no prior healthcare experience; his own personal experiences as an injured veteran guided his decision to pursue a nursing career.

“It was difficult at times given my lack of knowledge in the area, but I persevered and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2012,” he said.

Feature-3_Pg6_300After graduation, Schultz was accepted into the nurse residency program at UW Hospital and Clinics in Madison, where he worked as a circulating nurse in the operating room. Within six months, Schultz was functioning as a charge nurse in the inpatient operating room in a level 1 trauma hospital. In less than a year, he could circulate any case in the inpatient setting and soon after that he began functioning as a scrub nurse and joined the unit nursing council.

After taking on extra responsibilities, Schultz felt that he was being underutilized and began searching for something more.

“I had heard about CRNAs in nursing school, however, it was during my time in the OR that I really began to understand exactly what a CRNA was,” Schultz said. “I worked alongside CRNAs every day for three years and I was in awe of their knowledge, autonomy and confidence.”

Schultz craved that responsibility and the expertise and skills his coworkers possessed. It was admiration of these qualities, encouragement from coworkers, extensive research and shadowing experiences that ultimately drove Schultz to pursue the degree at UW Oshkosh.

Feature-1_Pg4_150While Schulz is new to campus, Inshirah Robinson ’11, of Madison, earned her BSN in Nursing through the Accelerated BSN Program (ACCEL) at UW Oshkosh. Robinson knew she wanted to become a CRNA even before she started the ACCEL program.

As a UW Oshkosh alumna, Robinson was familiar with the faculty and staff in the CON and knew that they would go above and beyond to prepare students to become outstanding leaders in healthcare. Robinson’s nursing career started immediately following her senior synthesis clinical in the ACCEL Program at Aurora BayCare in Green Bay.

“I worked in the intensive care unit, which was an amazing opportunity as a new grad,” Robinson said. “I had fantastic preceptors and charge nurses who helped mold and shape me into a quick-thinking, critical care nurse.”

Before nursing school, Robinson worked at Northwestern University in the Department of Anesthesiology, where she had frequent contact with CRNAs and anesthesiologists. Robinson’s motivation for changing direction in her career from business administration to nursing was guided by those interactions.

“At my old job, I was responsible for ensuring that paperwork was complete and signed off by CRNAs and anesthesiologists for billing purposes,” Robinson explained. “I would walk through the door to obtain the signatures and the thick red line on the floor stated proper surgical attire was to be worn past that point, and there was always a flurry of activity. It was then that I realized the only way to get past that line and in on the action was to become a CRNA.”

Robinson heard that UW Oshkosh was going to offer a nurse anesthetist program from nurses she worked with in the Cardiothoracic Surgery Heart and Lung Transplant Unit at UW Hospitals and Clinics. Robinson reached out to her ACCEL advisers and a CRNA who she knew in the area to gain as much information as possible about the rumors she had heard. After both sources confirmed that the nurse anesthetist program was going to happen, Robinson completed her application.

“I felt that I was a good match for this trailblazing program with my critical care experience, certifications, knowledge and previous experience with the CON,” she said.

Robinson said this is an amazing opportunity not only to obtain a DNP while becoming a nurse anesthetist, but also to meet the future requirement for all CRNAs to hold a DNP.

“I’m looking forward to learning everything I can to become the best nurse anesthetist possible, and I am really excited to use the new simulation lab that was built after I finished my BSN,” Robinson said.

After earning her doctorate in nurse anesthesia, Robinson plans to work in the clinical setting to become an expert in anesthesiology. She would love to work in the academic setting to educate nurses and future CRNAs.

Written by Daniele Frechette


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