While Barry University has been training exemplary nurse anesthetists for more than 25 years—a feat alone worth applauding—2021 marks a major milestone in the advancement of our programming, as the first-ever graduates of our Post-Baccalaureate Doctor of Nursing Practice receive their diplomas. This inaugural DNP class of 36 post-baccalaureate graduates completed 86 credits over 3 years and devoted more than 2,000 hours to clinical training.
“This cohort exceeded our expectations,” says Dr. Rebecca Lee, Program Director and Professor of Anesthesiology. As a graduate of Barry’s former Master of Science in Anesthesiology program, Dr. Lee played an integral role in the transition to the DNP and has shepherded the first class through the rigorous curriculum requirements, many of which coincided with a global pandemic. “The pandemic added to their challenges,” says Dr. Lee, “and they met each challenge with fortitude and resilience.”
Among their many accomplishments, the Class of 2021 set high standards with their scholarly research. “They have identified significant practice concerns and added to the body of evidence to increase patient safety, leadership, communication, and professionalism within our anesthesia community,” says Dr. Lee. “They completed their DNP projects with Institutional Review Board approvals in their eighth semester of the curriculum. They have disseminated their scholarly work at the state associations and are getting ready to submit for publications in peer-reviewed journals.” This demonstrated interest in advancing anesthesia practices is a testament to the program’s comprehensive scope and diverse clinical opportunities. “Our Barry CRNA graduates are safe entry-level anesthesia providers who also possess the skill set to critically appraise and apply evidence-based methods in clinical practice and disseminate their findings for relevant practice changes,” says Dr. Lee.
Equipping entry-level DNP grads to innovate within their fields has been a critical aspect of the program’s development and transition from the MS. Not only do Barry’s DNP students engage in high-level simulations at dedicated labs, they also receive three times more pharmacology and pathophysiology education than students at equivalent programs. That’s a lot of training, but the Class of 2021 has been up to the task. “They set the bar very high for those to follow,” says Dr. Lee.
Upon graduating, many of the Class of 2021 plan to stay in Florida, though Texas, New York, Kentucky, and Virginia are also on the map for this cohort. As their careers continue to flourish, Dr. Lee hopes the they will “keep the Barry University legacy of excellence in clinical practice moving forward by serving as future educators, mentors, and leaders.” Barry CRNA grads have a long tradition of leadership within the field, shaping the future of the profession as chief anesthetists, clinical coordinators, and policy change agents. “We ask that you continue to serve our profession and contribute to the national and state organizations through legislative initiatives and leadership endeavors,” says Dr. Lee. “Continue to have a seat at the table.”