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USD Addresses South Dakota's Nurse Anesthetist Shortage through New Degree Program

A USD nursing student administers an IV bag to a simulation mannequin. USD will offer a new Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP) degree program in Sioux Falls to help build and grow the health care workforce in South Dakota.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota will offer a Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP) degree program in Sioux Falls to help build and grow the health care workforce in South Dakota. USD is the only public university in the state to offer this degree.

The DNAP degree prepares registered nurses to become Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs). Nurse anesthetists work in a variety of settings where they administer anesthesia and provide care before, during, and after surgical, therapeutic, diagnostic, and obstetrical procedures. They also provide pain management and some emergency services. Nurse anesthetists serve as the sole provider of anesthesia care in 83% of South Dakota’s counties.

“As the state’s only comprehensive School of Health Sciences, USD is uniquely positioned to offer the DNAP program,” said USD President Sheila K. Gestring. “This program helps meet South Dakota’s demand for nurse anesthetists, and our graduates will be prepared to take on leadership roles in a variety of health care settings and improve health care delivery.”

Offering the program in Sioux Falls will allow students to access USD’s robust infrastructure at the CCSF, the Health Sciences Center and Sanford Health. The partnership between USD and Sanford Health continues to grow as Sanford will play a pivotal role in the DNAP program by providing resources and clinical experiences for students.

“USD and the Sanford Health system have worked together every step of the way in creating and developing this program, leveraging resources and expertise to fill a workforce need in the state and offer a program that is regionally competitive and affordable,” said School of Health Sciences Dean Haifa Abou Samra, R.N., M.S., Ph.D.

Students will learn from expert nursing and Sanford School of Medicine faculty who will provide dynamic curriculum that is evidence-based with state-of-the-art technologies.

“The USD Department of Nursing is known for quality education across its programs, and this will be no exception,” said Samra.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a job growth of 14% for nurse anesthetists will occur between the years 2019-2029, a much faster growth than the average for all occupations. An increased focus on preventative care and demand for health care services from an aging population contribute to the need for additional nurse anesthetists.

“Graduates of this program will not only improve health care opportunities in South Dakota, but this career path is an excellent option for health care-focused students as the average salaries for CRNAs in South Dakota exceeds $165,000 per year,” said Brian L. Maher, South Dakota Regents executive director and CEO. “It is a win for the degree earner and a win for the state.”

The approved program will begin admitting students as early as summer 2023.

ABOUT THE SCHOOL OF HEALTH SCIENCES

USD’s School of Health Sciences is a national leader in interprofessional health sciences education. South Dakota’s comprehensive School of Health Sciences develops scholars, practitioners and leaders in health and human services, including addiction counselors, dental hygienists, health science practitioners, medical laboratory scientists, nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, physician assistants, public health practitioners and social workers.

ABOUT USD

Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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Hanna DeLange
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