The program of Nurse Anesthesia Education was initiated at the University of Kansas under the auspices of the Department of Anesthesiology in 1966. The first four students were admitted in June 1967 and full accreditation was granted by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists in 1968.
In response to public and professional demands for quality service and credible education, a minimal curriculum has grown into a full complement of course offerings. The Kansas Board of Regents recognized this educational excellence by granting the program baccalaureate status in 1978 after having served as a certificate program to that point.
In 1982 the program was granted full department status and graduated its first bachelor’s degree students that same year. In 1984 the program attained graduate status and began to offer a degree of Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia while phasing out the bachelor's degree.
Dr. Carol Elliott was the first department chair of the program in the School of Health Professions until her retirement in June, 2007. Donna Nyght, CRNA, DNP, was appointed her successor as chair the following month.
It was proposed in 1993 that the program expand to include satellite locations. Sponsored by a grant provided by the Division of Nursing, Health and Human Services, the first satellite program was established at Mount Carmel Medical Center in Pittsburg, Kan. Students at a satellite campus began with the first two semesters on the KUMC campus. A second satellite program was initiated at Overland Park Regional Medical Center in Overland Park, Kan., in 2003. Using Web-based instruction the program then provided the required didactics online to students who completed their clinical experiences at the satellite affiliates. The curriculum at the satellite programs was identical to that offered on the KUMC campus. While these sites are no longer primary clinical sites, they continue to be serve as clinical affiliates for the program.
In addition, a cooperative agreement from 1988 to 2008 with the BryanLGH Nurse Anesthesia program in Lincoln, Nebraska has brought their students to the University of Kansas for the academic portion of their program. The Bryan LGH students received their Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia from the University of Kansas.
Over 350 graduates have entered the professional ranks of nurse anesthesia as University of Kansas graduates. Today the Nurse Anesthesia program is a national leader in education and clinical instruction in the field, with numerous recognitions and high rankings by local and national publications. It remains one of eight departments in the School of Health Professions on the medical center campus of the University of Kansas. Continued close cooperation with the Department of Anesthesiology allows the collective mission of physicians and CRNAs to be that of producing highly qualified anesthesia practitioners.