FAQ for the DNP in Nurse Anesthesia Program

What experience do I need to be a competitive candidate for the program?

The Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs requires candidates to have at least one year of full-time critical care experience to be considered for any nurse anesthesia program. To be a competitive applicant for Columbia Nursing’s Doctor of Nursing Practice in Nurse Anesthesia, candidates are encouraged to have at least two years of full-time critical care experience before the application deadline. Most accepted candidates have at least three to five years of full-time ICU experience.

What type of critical care experience is required?

All critical care experience, including Pediatric ICU, is acceptable with the following exceptions: 

  • Neonatal ICU, ICU Float Pool, PACU, and ER experience will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis 
  • Operating room, telemetry, step-down, cath lab, and interventional lab experience is not acceptable

What is the average GPA of accepted candidates?

Acceptance into the DNP in Nurse Anesthesia program is a holistic process. Though a solid GPA is a predictor of success in the program, it is not the only consideration. We look at the applicant’s entire history and make acceptance decisions based on their full academic, professional, and personal experience. That being said, the average overall GPA of successful applicants is 3.5.

Why is the CCRN recommended?

Certification as an Adult or Pediatric Critical Care Nurse (CCRN) is a measure of competency attainment and is preferred by the faculty. Attainment of this certification demonstrates a foundational knowledge base of the critical care principles that the program will build upon.

How many students apply and how many are accepted?

There were close to 300 qualified applicants for the most recent cohort of master’s degree students, and 38 were admitted. In 2022, we will admit the inaugural cohort of approximately 20 DNP nurse anesthesia residents. 

Do I need a New York license to apply?

You need an active RN license but do not need a New York license when you apply. You most likely will need a New York license for clinical.

How long is the DNP in Nurse Anesthesia program?

It is a total of 36 –months, full time. There is not a part-time option.

What is the structure of the curriculum?

The first year is devoted to advanced science courses, doctoral nursing core courses, basic principles of anesthesia, and structured high-fidelity simulation activities. The compulsory clinical residency component begins during the second year with advanced didactic coursework for the nurse anesthesia role, high-fidelity simulation, and doctoral seminars. During clinical residencies, candidates have increasing responsibility for anesthesia patient care under guidance. Applying theoretical knowledge to the realities of clinical practice is a dynamic process that enhances and enriches learning, while preparing the graduate to function effectively and competently as a professional. The program’s sequential design permits the nurse anesthesia resident to acquire the necessary skills to progress along this continuum, practicing to the full scope of anesthesia practice upon graduation.  

Can I work while in the program?

Classes are generally held Monday through Thursday in the first year, with open lab on Friday. Clinical starts in September of the second year. Coursework is intensive, and while working during the program is not recommended by program faculty, some residents work several shifts per month before clinical begins. Once the clinical sequence starts, time commitments in the operating room and the classroom virtually preclude any opportunity to work outside of the program. If a nurse anesthesia resident is not doing well in the program, they will be asked about work and counseled on their ability to be successful in the program.

If I have completed graduate level coursework prior to matriculation, can transfer credits be applied?

Yes, in some cases, but stipulations apply. Please review Columbia Nursing’s advanced standing policy for more information. 

What should I do to prepare before I start the program?

Our faculty say: “Enjoy yourself”! That may be different from advice you’ve heard before, but we mean it. You will be embarking on an academic and clinical journey that will take up most of your time for the next three years. Spend time with family and friends, go on vacation, exercise, read some fun books, and, of course, get your affairs in order before you start the program. You will have plenty of time to dive deep into your anesthesia and basic science books once the program begins.

Where are the clinical sites in the program and how do I choose them?

View a list of our nurse anesthesia clinical sites. We have multiple sites in the tri-state area and in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Washington, DC. We are continually assessing the strength of our clinical sites to assure that nurse anesthesia residents have the best clinical experience possible, encompassing the full scope of anesthesia practice. This could mean longer travel distances to gain these experiences for some nurse anesthesia residents.

Does the program offer full scope of practice opportunities?

Yes. We are working on providing more opportunities, especially increased exposure to peripheral nerve blocks and autonomous practice.

What is your National Certification Exam pass rate?

Our first-time pass rate has been above 90-94% for the past several years. Our graduates all pass the boards on subsequent attempts, for a pass rate of 100%.