WCHP Academic Policy

The Department of Nurse Anesthesia, the Westbrook College of Health Professions, and the University of New England are committed to offering a quality Nurse Anesthesia education program that complies with the evaluative criteria of the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA). The program provides learning experiences to enable graduates to achieve the outcomes required for the practice of Nurse Anesthesia. Please refer to the WCHP Graduate Program Progression Policies and Procedures (PDF) for a detailed description of academic standards.

PROGRAM COMPLETION TIMELINE

Students are expected to complete 27 actual months in the program.

RULES OF CONDUCT WHILE ON AFFILIATION AT CLINICAL SITES

Success in the Nurse Anesthesia profession requires certain behavioral attributes including but not limited to personal commitment and hardiness, self-awareness, resilience, perseverance, empathy, discipline, honesty, integrity, personal regard for others, the ability to work effectively with others in a team environment, and the ability to address a crisis or emergency situation in a composed manner. Adherence to these attributes requires a high level of maturity and self-control, even in highly stressful situations. During the clinical phase, students must conduct themselves in a highly professional manner consistent with the patient care responsibilities with which they will be entrusted. Failure to adhere to these standards, as noted below, or comply with the Clinical Rotation Policies will result in disciplinary action ranging from a written warning to dismissal from the program (depending upon the violation and the circumstances surrounding the offense).

  1. Creating or contributing to situations that jeopardize patient safety. 
  2. Students are expected to follow all policies in the Student Code of Conduct section of the University of New England Handbook. Unethical behavior such as academic dishonesty, falsifying case logs, or medical records is considered a violation of the Program’s standards of conduct. 
  3. Respect the confidentiality of patients and fellow students. One is not permitted to discuss any patients by name outside the clinical encounter situation. Students should not discuss other students with preceptors. For academic presentations, all identifying data, including name, initials, date of birth, and facility where seen will be omitted.
  4. Unauthorized possession, use, copying, or distribution of hospital records or disclosure of information contained in such records to unauthorized persons.
  5. Use, distribution, or unauthorized possession of intoxicating beverages or drugs on hospital premises or reporting to work under the influence of intoxicants.
  6. Unauthorized absence from the Anesthesia Department during regularly scheduled clinical hours.
  7. Failure or refusal to follow instructions of a duly assigned preceptor including refusal to accept clinical assignment.
  8. Use of vile, intemperate or abusive language, or acting in a disrespectful manner to any employee, supervisor, patient, or visitor.
  9. Any disorderly conduct on hospital premises.
  10. Creating or contributing to unsanitary conditions.
  11. Theft, fraud, or unauthorized use of property belonging to the hospital, patient, or visitor.

CLINICAL PRACTICUM COURSE EXPECTATIONS

To successfully complete each clinical practicum course, students must achieve a grade of A or B. Details regarding clinical practicum expectations will be detailed in the Student Clinical Practicum Handbook and course syllabus. Clinical progression will be monitored during each clinical practicum. If students are not meeting clinical objectives, they will be placed on Probation.

If a student is placed on a 30-day Probationary Status, they will continue with the clinical objectives scheduled for that level. The student will communicate with program faculty and clinical faculty to develop a plan based on their clinical evaluations, clinical faculty feedback and/or program faculty findings. The plan will include strategies for improvement of clinical performance. 

At the end of the 30-day Probationary Status, the student’s performance will be re-evaluated by the clinical and program faculty. If they are successful, they will resume their clinical practicum at the same level their peers are at and return to good standing. Being placed on probationary status will delay the student's graduation date accordingly. If progress continues to be unsatisfactory, the student will receive an 'F' for the course and be dismissed from the program.

Students may be placed on a second 30-day probationary period for additional (unresolved or newly identified) performance issues. The process described above would apply for this as well. Students are granted a maximum of two (2) probationary periods not to exceed 60 days total. If additional (newly identified) performance issues continue to occur after a student has been granted (2) probationary periods, the student would be immediately dismissed.

ESSENTIAL TECHNICAL STANDARDS

Principles
Nurse anesthesia education requires that accumulation of scientific knowledge be accompanied by the simultaneous acquisition of specific skills and professional attitudes and behavior. Nurse Anesthesia faculty have a responsibility to society to matriculate and graduate the best prepared nurse anesthetists, and thus admission to this program has been offered to those who present the highest qualifications. The essential technical standards presented in this document include pre-requisites for matriculation, subsequent promotion from year to year, and ultimately graduation from the University of New England School of Nurse Anesthesia. These standards pertain to all matriculated students. All required courses in the curriculum are necessary in a progressive order to develop essential skills and knowledge required to become a competent nurse anesthetist.

The faculty is committed to fostering relationships with its students that encourage human and professional growth. Its policies and procedures attempt to reflect this commitment to proactive and supportive communication.

It is imperative that all students recognize that the primary responsibility for a successful nurse anesthesia education, both in and outside the classroom, rests with the individual. Students, including students with disabilities, must have the capacity to manage their lives and anticipate their own needs. The School has incomplete influence in helping students achieve these personal adaptations. Situations can arise in which a student’s behavior and attitudes resulting from a disability or other personal circumstances represent a secondary problem which impairs the student’s ability to meet the School’s standards, even after implementation of all reasonable accommodations have been made by the School.

Recommendations

  1. No otherwise qualified individual will be denied admission to the School of Nurse Anesthesia based solely upon a disabling condition.
  2. Candidates with disabilities applying to the School of Nurse Anesthesia will be expected to have achieved the same requirements as their non-disabled peers.
  3. Matriculation into the School of Nurse Anesthesia assumes certain levels of cognitive, emotional, and technical skills. Nurse anesthetist candidates with disabilities will be held to the same fundamental standards as their non-disabled peers. Reasonable accommodations will be provided to assist the candidates in learning, performing, and satisfying the fundamental standards, so long as the candidate provides timely, comprehensive documentation establishing the candidate’s disability status and need for reasonable accommodation.
  4. Reasonable accommodations that facilitate candidate progress will be provided but only to the extent that such accommodation does not significantly interfere with the essential functions of the School of Nurse Anesthesia, fundamentally alter the program, significantly affect the rights of other candidates, or pose a health or safety risk to any individual including patients. 
  5. The School, under the law, is obligated to provide all reasonable accommodations that will eliminate or minimize the barriers disabled candidates may face in the process of successfully completing the requirements for graduation from the University of New England’s School of Nurse Anesthesia.

Abilities and Skills
A candidate for this program must have abilities and skills of five varieties including observational skills; communication skills; fine and gross motor skills; intellectual skills: conceptual, integrative and quantitative abilities; and behavioral and social/emotional attributes.

I. Observational Skills
The candidate must be able to acquire a defined level of required information as presented through demonstration and experiences in the basic sciences and anesthesia courses including, but not limited to, information conveyed through labs and simulated anesthesia exercises. Furthermore, a candidate must be able to observe a patient accurately, both at a distance, and close at hand, acquire information from written documents and visualize information as presented in radiographic images and patient monitors. The candidate must have visual and hearing acuity, including use of depth perception and peripheral vision; hearing normal and faint body sounds (blood pressure and heart sounds) and hearing auditory alarms on monitors and anesthesia delivery systems. Such observation and information acquisition necessitate the functional use of visual, auditory, and somatic sensation while being enhanced by the functional use of other sensory modalities.

In any case where a candidate’s ability to observe or acquire information through these sensory modalities is compromised, the candidate must demonstrate alternative means and/or abilities to acquire and demonstrate the essential information without reliance upon another person’s interpretation of the information. The university will provide appropriate reasonable accommodations to foster the student’s ability to meet these standards, so long as the student registers with UNE Disability Services.
 
II. Communication Skills
The candidate must be able to effectively and efficiently communicate using verbal, written, and reading skills, in a manner that demonstrates sensitivity to patients, their families, and all members of the health care team. A candidate must be able to accurately elicit information, describe a patient’s change in mood, thought, activity, and status. He or she must also demonstrate established communication skills using traditional or alternative reasonable means that do not substantially modify the standard.

III. Fine and Gross Motor Skills
The candidate must be able to, with or without the use of assistive devices, but without reliance on another person, interpret x-ray and other graphic images and digital or analog representations of physiologic phenomenon (such as EKGs).

The ability to participate in basic diagnostic and therapeutic maneuvers and procedures (e.g. palpation, auscultation) is required. It is also essential for a candidate to possess the gross motor skills sufficient to provide a full range of safe and effective care to patients. These include the ability to move within confined spaces, reach above shoulders, bend, stoop, squat, stretch, and reach below the waist. Fine motor skills are necessary to perform psychomotor skills such as picking up objects, grasping, pinching with fingers (intubations, manipulating a syringe, starting IVs), twisting and squeezing.

Physical stamina sufficient to complete the rigorous course of didactic and clinical study is required. In addition, physical endurance and strength are requirements in order to tolerate training during an entire shift (including overtime or call), standing for long periods of time, and sustaining repetitive movements (performing CPR, positive pressure ventilation, etc). Candidates must be able to provide hands-on patient care such as lifting, pushing, and pulling excessive weight to position patients, pick up and carry children, ambulate patients and transfer anesthetized patients from stretchers and beds. When transporting patients to patient recovery areas, the candidate is required to move not only the patient's weight but also the heavy bed.

The candidate is required to carry heavy equipment and supplies, sit for long periods of time on stools with and without any back support, twist and turn to visualize monitors and the surgical field, and possess the strength and flexibility to assist in the restraint of combative patients. In addition, the candidate must be able to move quickly to respond to emergencies. At all times the ability to administer care to patients in a safe manner is paramount.
 
IV. Intellectual Skills - Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities
The candidate must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, and synthesize information in a timely fashion. In addition, the candidate must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structure. Problem-solving, the critical skill demanded of nurse anesthetists, requires all of these intellectual abilities. These problem-solving skills must be able to be performed in a precisely limited time demanded by a given clinical setting. In addition, the candidate must be able to adapt readily to changing environments and deal with unexpected activities.

V. Behavioral and Social/Emotional Attributes
Candidates must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients.

Candidates must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of patients. They must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze and synthesize information effectively in a precisely limited time demanded by a given clinical setting, while under stress, and in an environment in which other distractions may be present.

Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, self-reflection, emotional intelligence, interest, and motivation are all personal qualities that will be assessed during the admissions and educational processes.

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