School of Nursing Positioned to Begin Offering BSN-DNP in Nurse Anesthesia in 2014

(Jan. 28, 2013) – The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Nursing now is the first and only public university in the state approved to offer an eight-semesters program from the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) degree to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) in Nurse Anesthesia.

The curriculum, called the B.S.N. to D.N.P., won final approval from Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) at its Jan. 24 meeting in Austin, following a positive vote from the THECB’s Committee on Academic and Workforce Success last month.

Pending approval by the national Council on Accreditation (COA) of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs, UTHealth could admit the first B.S.N. to D.N.P. class no later than the 2013-14 year. In the meantime, faculty will be involved with transition plans.

“Many rural hospitals in Texas cannot recruit anesthesiologists and are thus 100 percent dependent on Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) to serve their patients,” said UTHealth School of Nursing Dean Patricia L. Starck, D.S.N., R.N. “As the only state-supported institution in Texas to produce CRNAs and with 35 percent of graduates practicing in rural and underserved areas, our school already is an important source of anesthesia providers for the State of Texas. In anticipation of expanded healthcare insurance coverage in 2014, we cannot afford to have a decreased workforce supply and we must move now to meet emerging, higher accreditation standards.”

The current pathway, B.S.N. to the Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) to D.N.P., totals 122 credits and 12 semesters (47 months).  However, the planned B.S.N. to D.N.P. would be 112 credits and nine semesters (36 months).

“We believe that final approval of the B.S.N.-D.N.P. pathway will produce the needed nurse anesthesia workforce for Texas in the most efficient and timely manner, while also being most cost-effective for students,” said Starck, who also is the John P. McGovern Distinguished Professor of Nursing and holder of the Huffington Foundation Chair for Nursing Education Leadership. “We also will be offering the B.S.N. to M.S.N. in nurse anesthesia for interested applicants.”

UTHealth School of Nursing believes that the direct B.S.N.-to-D.N.P. route will be attractive to nurse anesthesia students because it will only be one semester longer and about $3,000 more in cost, versus going B.S.N. to M.S.N and later opting for the D.N.P., which would be an additional five semesters and $15,000 more.

“We will continue to offer the M.S.N. in Nurse Anesthesia and redesign the B.S.N. to D.N.P. curriculum for Nurse Anesthesia to reflect a doctoral educational level for both the core nurse anesthesia clinical courses and new offerings such as translational science and health policy,” said Kristen Starnes-Ott, Ph.D., CRNA, program director of Nurse Anesthesia and assistant professor of clinical nursing. “This is an exciting time in nurse anesthesia education.”

“The school will continue to offer the B.S.N. to M.S.N. to D.N.P. for other advanced practice roles, such as Nurse Executive, Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Nurse Specialist,” said Joanne V. Hickey, Ph.D., R.N., coordinator of the school’s D.N.P. program and holder of the Patricia L. Starck/PARTNERS Endowed Professorship in Nursing. “We are excited about the prospect of offering the doctorate in nurse anesthesia. As a public institution, our tuition rate is very reasonable and affordable, especially for students eager to avoid a large amount of student debt.”

UTHealth’s is the highest ranked nursing graduate school in Texas and among the Top Five Percent nationwide, according to the latest edition of the influential America's Best Graduate Schools guide.  The school produces about 180 new nurses and 140 nurses with graduate degrees each year. For more information or to apply, visit:

– David R. Bates, School Communications Director