Position Statement on Authority to Accredit Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (April 11, 2022)
The COA is nationally recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) as an accrediting agency for the “accreditation of institutions and programs of nurse anesthesia at the post-master’s certificate, master’s, or doctoral degree levels in the United States, and its territories, including programs offering distance education.” The COA is the sole agency with the authority to establish educational requirements for programs that prepare qualified registered nurses to become CRNAs, including clinical supervision of nurse anesthesia students.
The COA’s Standards for Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Programs – Practice Doctorate identify the didactic and clinical curriculum requirements that all nurse anesthesia educational programs must meet. The Standards also contain requirements pertaining to the conducting institution, faculty, students, graduates, clinical sites, policy, and evaluation. Included in the Standards are supervision requirements for nurse anesthesia students in clinical settings. Please refer to Standards F5, F7 and F8. (Refer Standards for Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Programs – Practice Doctorate, 2015, revised January 2022.)
Position Statement on Student Titling (April 11, 2022)
The COA recognizes nurse anesthesia programs use a variety of titles and descriptors for their students (e.g., student registered nurse anesthetist, nurse anesthesia student, graduate student nurse anesthetist, resident registered nurse anesthetist, etc.). The accreditation Standards and the Accreditation Policies and Procedures do not require programs to use specific titles or descriptors. The COA supports each program determining the title that works best for them. Programs must ensure the title being used is consistent with state rules and regulations. It is important to note Standard G.8 states, “The program forbids the employment of nurse anesthesia students as nurse anesthetists by title or function.” (Refer Standards for Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Programs – Practice Doctorate, 2015, revised January 2022.)
Position Statement on Doctoral Education for Nurse Anesthetists
The COA supports doctoral education for entry into nurse anesthesia practice by 2025. The COA has approved the following Standards in support of this position.
A4. The governing body appoints a CRNA as program administrator with leadership responsibilities and authority for the administration of the program. The CRNA administrator must be qualified by experience and have an earned graduate degree from an institution of higher education accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency.
A5. The governing body appoints a CRNA, qualified by graduate degree, education, and experiences to assist the CRNA program administrator and, if required, assume leadership responsibilities. This individual must have an earned graduate degree from an institution of higher education accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency.
C2. The faculty designs a curriculum that awards a master’s or higher-level degree to graduate students who successfully complete graduation requirements.*
* The COA will not consider any new master’s degree programs for accreditation beyond 2015. All accredited programs must offer a doctoral degree for entry into practice by January 1, 2022. On January 1, 2022 and thereafter, all students matriculating into an accredited program must be enrolled in a doctoral program.
COA Supports Innovative Degree Options for CRNAs
The Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) recognizes that entry-into-practice graduates from accredited nurse anesthesia programs as of 2025 will meet the competencies as outlined in the COA’s Practice Doctorate Standards. There will exist a need for graduates prior to 2025 to have the opportunity to achieve doctoral level education, if desired, with either a practice and/or research focus. There will also be an opportunity for graduates of practice-focused doctoral degrees to attain a research-focused doctoral degree, and vice versa.
The COA recognizes and supports the need for academically appropriate articulation between master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as between practice and research focused doctoral degrees. The COA supports the development of innovative programs designed to articulate between these areas of academic preparation. These programs should be designed to recognize past academic and professional experiences thereby avoiding curricular repetition.
Doctoral degree deadline for Program Administrators (originally published as a Q & A by COA in 2009)
COA has set a firm goal for all CRNA program administrators (Program Administrators and Assistant Program Administrators) of all doctoral programs to have doctoral degrees by 2018. This year was chosen to allow individuals time to obtain either practice-oriented or research-oriented doctoral degrees. COA believes this is sufficient time since it is 9 years after the publication of COA’s position statement. Should there be a problem with meeting the deadline, the COA will consider the merits of the individual situation including the program administrator’s progress toward earning a doctoral degree. This is the same procedure that was used in the past when COA began requiring master’s degrees for program directors. Any individual who believes he cannot meet a deadline should contact the COA as far in advance of the deadline as possible. Please be aware that a request will be seriously considered and may or may not be acceptable to COA. Programs failing to meet the requirement for CRNA program administrators with doctoral degrees would receive citations.
Degree from institutions that are candidates for accreditation (originally published as a Q & A by COA in 2009)
COA will not accept graduation from an institution that is a candidate for regional accreditation as meeting the requirement for program administrators to graduate from a college or university that is accredited by a nationally recognized institutional accreditor. Candidacy status refers to institutions that are at the level of pre-accreditation by a nationally recognized institutional accreditor. Under COA standards, CRNA program administrators must possess earned graduate degrees from institutions of higher education that are accredited by a nationally recognized accreditation agency. Failure to comply with this standard is of critical concern in decisions on nurse anesthesia program accreditation.