A pain-free anniversary: ECU celebrates 10 years of educating nurse anesthetists

nurse anesthesia pinIf you recently had a pain-free surgery, you might have a Pirate nurse anesthetist to thank. 

The College of Nursing will honor the 10th anniversary of the nurse anesthesia concentration in the MSN program during East Carolina University’s homecoming. Dean Sylvia Brown, Dr. Maura McAuliffe, director of the nurse anesthesia concentration, and Dr. Phyllis Horns, vice chancellor for health sciences, will welcome guests at a reception on Nov. 8.

More than 100 students have graduated from the ECU nurse anesthesia program since the first class was admitted in 2003. All have passed the National Certification Examination and are Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA). Of those, 85 percent practice in North Carolina and 58 percent practice in eastern North Carolina, McAuliffe said. 

CRNAs provide anesthetics to patients in a variety of practice settings and for every type of surgery or procedure.

ECU’s program was created through a partnership between ECU, Vidant Health and East Carolina Anesthesia Associates to help alleviate a shortage of certified registered nurse anesthetists in eastern North Carolina and to provide specialty training for nurses close to home.

The campus-based program requires full-time study for 28 consecutive months involving 50-60 hours of clinical and didactic education each week. Nurse anesthetist students take rigorous basic science classes with ECU medical and physical therapy students, followed by applied science courses in anesthesia. They also take nursing core courses with other graduate nursing students. Throughout the program, the students learn to integrate classroom and procedural knowledge into clinical practice in the state-of-the-art simulation lab in the ECU College of Nursing.

Students accepted into the program must be registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing with a minimum of one year of intensive care unit experience.

Students receive most of their clinical instruction at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, but also work at Vidant SurgiCenter in Greenville, Vidant Chowan Hospital in Edenton, Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital in Ahoskie and Vidant Pain Management Center. Students are supervised one-on-one by a credentialed CRNA or anesthesiologist as they administer anesthesia. By graduation, the Student Registered Nurse Anesthetists have an average of 800 cases, logging from 1,900 to 2,400 hours delivering anesthesia, McAuliffe said.

For more information, go to http://www.pirateanesthesia.org




  1. Happy 10 year Anniversary to the Nurse Anesthesia Concentration. The nurse anesthesia concentration recruits, retains and prepares nurse anesthetists with outstanding records of academic achievement, strong leadership experience and a commitment to advanced nursing practice. Congratulations to Director Dr. Maura McAuliffe and faculty for a job well done!

  2. In all my years at ECU, this program has from the beginning had great success and as a graduate of ECU and as a faculty member, I have always been so proud of this program. All of the faculty members in this program seem to have the success of the students as their main agenda. Thank you to all academic and clinical faculty for this success.
    Frances Eason

  3. Congratulations to the ECU CRNA program!!!! This program is a true asset to the citizens of NC and beyond! I had the good fortune of witnessing the high-quality care provided by one of our Pirate CRNAs who provided anesthesia care for my son when he had surgery. This exceptional care; a direct outcome of the exceptional education provided through ECU College of Nursing, made a difficult situation much easier knowing that my son was being cared for by a Pirate CRNA! We couldn’t have asked for better care. Thank you for all you do!!!!

  4. A big thank you to the CRNA faculty, students and alumni for your stellar contributions to our college, patients and state. This is a world class CRNA educational program!!! Happy 10th Anniversary!!!! Well done!!!!!!

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