New School of Nurse Anesthesia Enrolls First Class

Kathy Dean Features, Learning, Spring 2022

The University of Mobile welcomed the inaugural class of students in August 2021 to the Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP) program in the new School of Nurse Anesthesia. Graduates of the 36-month DNAP program will be eligible to take the National Certification Examination required to become Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists.

UM has the first and only DNAP program in a four- state region that includes Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia. It is accredited and approved by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs, the Alabama Board of Nursing, and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

“We are proud to offer this opportunity for dynamic critical care nursing leaders to pursue education and clinical training necessary to become Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists here at the University of Mobile. The gulf coast region, including Mobile, has a critical shortage of CRNAs which limits the availability of anesthesia services, creating a barrier to health care access for many underserved Alabamians. At UM, we are training future CRNAs in order to fill that gap, by providing safe and efficient anesthesia services for our population in Mobile and across the state and country,” said School of Nurse Anesthesia Director and Professor of Nurse Anesthesia Todd Hicks, DNP, CRNA.

The School of Nurse Anesthesia joins the School of Nursing and School of Health and Sports Science to form the College of Health Professions. Located in Weaver Hall, the three schools provide students with state-of-the-art simulations and experiential learning through the Center for Excellence in Healthcare Practice.

The DNAP program builds on the university’s reputation for producing exceptional health care professionals and

is designed to meet the region’s expanding health care needs. Overall employment of nurse anesthetists and nurse practitioners – a program offered through UM’s School of Nursing – is projected to grow 45% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Being able to partner with Mobile-area hospital systems to train local nurse anesthesia students is a major win for our community. Our partner systems are seeing the realities of the current and future needs in this profession, and we are thrilled to be able to bring the highest quality practitioners to continue the great tradition of health care here in our region,” said UM President Lonnie Burnett.

The new program offers blended learning environments including classroom, simulation, online and clinical. Students train locally in the Mobile metropolitan area. It is led by faculty with extensive teaching and clinical practice experience.

Hicks joined UM after serving as an assistant professor and associate pathway coordinator of the BSN-DNP Nurse Anesthesia Pathway at University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Currently, he is the Expert Clinical Sciences Lecturer for Valley Anesthesia Review, a nurse anesthesia board review course given multiple times per year across the country. In this role, he has assisted more than 1,000 nurse anesthesia graduates to prepare for the National Certification Examination. Hunter Speeg, DNP, CRNA, is assistant professor of nurse anesthesia and associate program director of the School of Nurse Anesthesia. He served as an adjunct assistant professor within the BSN-DNP Nurse Anesthesia Pathway at UAB while maintaining a clinical anesthesia practice at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham.

Learn more at umobile.edu/dnap.

About the Author

Kathy Dean

Kathy is an award-winning media relations director and former journalist whose expertise has enabled the University of Mobile to gain national and regional attention. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Auburn University and worked as a journalist for 12 years, including 10 years at the Mobile Press-Register, earning regional and national awards for coverage of education, deadline reporting and feature writing. She joined the University of Mobile staff in 1993, earning awards for writing and public relations including the Baptist Communicators Association grand prize for feature writing in 2015 and 2012. She is a charter member of Providence United Methodist Church, serves on the board of the John Will Scholarship Foundation, and is a member of the Public Relations Council of Alabama, Baptist Communicators Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. Kathy lives in Daphne with her husband, Chuck, who earned his M.B.A. from the University of Mobile. They have two children and two grandchildren.