Baltimore, Md. – In ceremonies held recently at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, the state's first cohorts of nurse anesthetists and clinical nurse leaders celebrated the completion of their Master of Science (MS) programs.
Seventeen men and women completed the nurse anesthesia program, the only one of its kind in the state of Maryland, which was initiated in 2004 to address a statewide shortage of nurse anesthetists. According to a survey conducted by the Maryland Hospital Association in 2003, there was a 16.6 percent job vacancy rate for nurse anesthetists of the 42 job categories surveyed. That number is expected to grow as the need for comprehensive health care increases along with the state's over-65 population. Notably, 15 of the 17 new graduates have accepted positions as Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists in the Baltimore area.
“We are extremely proud of our nurse anesthesia graduates, who completed this rigorous 28-month, full-time program that included an 18-month full-time clinical rotation,” says Assistant Professor Lou Heindel, DNP, CRNA, director of the School of Nursing's nurse anesthesia program. Heindel notes that the program was created through a collaborative effort between the University of Maryland Medical Center, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, MedStar Health, and Kernan Hospital.
Also celebrating the completion of their MS program were 57 Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) students. The CNL program, launched in fall 2005, is also the only one of its kind in Maryland. The program allows people with a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing discipline to receive an MS degree. CNL coursework and clinical experiences provide students with the opportunity to gain knowledge required for both the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) competencies and the competencies required for the CNL credential at the master's level. CNL graduates are eligible to sit for the RN licensure examination, as well as the newly-created CNL certification examination currently being piloted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Many of the CNL graduates have accepted positions at hospitals and other health care agencies in the Baltimore metropolitan area.
“We are thrilled with the success of our first CNL graduating class,” says Gail Schoen Lemaire, PhD, APRN, BC, assistant professor, who co-directs the program with Assistant Professor Carol Esche, DNP, RN, MA, CNA. “This group of students was truly exceptional and enthusiastic.”
The December graduates included 100 BSN students, 126 MS students (including nurse anesthesia and clinical nurse leaders), and three PhD students. The School leads the state in providing the largest number of professional nurses to the workforce and continues to create innovative educational programs for nurses that are responsive to the health care needs of the nation.