New Surgical Suite Simulates Real-World Operating Room for UA Nurse Anesthetist Students

Nov 17, 2016

University of Arizona College of Nursing students seeking to become certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) through the Doctor of Nursing Practice program will enter the anesthesia workforce confident and real-world ready thanks to a new surgical simulation suite that mimics a real-life operating room.

The suite, which includes state-of-the-art patient simulators, a high-tech anesthesia gas machine and a video-observed airway system, was made possible thanks to a five-year, $250,000 grant from the Marshall Foundation, which has given more than $11.5 million to the UA for scholarships and programs.

“This gift has allowed us to expand our simulated learning with the most advanced equipment available,” said Kathleen Piotrowski, DNP, CRNA, clinical assistant professor and program director for the nurse anesthesia specialty. “We can create complex, realistic patient scenarios so that our students can master the most demanding anesthesia-related skills and procedures in a realistic hands-on setting. Besides being a safe environment for them to make and learn from their mistakes, simulation can also be used to practice handling rare critical events that students are unlikely to see during their clinical rotations, but might encounter later.”

VIDEO: Go inside the new surgical suite

For first-year nurse anesthetist student Jal Atkielski, BSN, RN, the new technology is an added bonus to the rigorous and challenging program he’d been eager to start.

“When you come into the simulation lab, it’s nearly life-like,” said Atkielski. “It’s something every student needs to have. We need to be put in uncomfortable situations that are going to make us better students and providers.”

As a medical ICU nurse at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, Atkielski always knew he wanted to become a nurse anesthetist. Born and raised in Tucson, he earned his Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from the UA in 2009 and says he is looking forward to serving his community as a CRNA.

“I’ve been in Tucson for 38 years,” said Atkielski. “This is my home; this is my community. To give back is something that is just inside of me. I really take great pride in Tucson, and I’m a Wildcat all the way.”

The first class of nurse anesthetist students will graduate from the UA in May 2017. With a projected 10 to 15 graduates per year, and each new CRNA performing an average of 750 anesthetic procedures in hospitals, surgery centers and offices annually, each UA class will provide more than 11,000 anesthetics per year for Arizona residents.

“There’s widespread need for CRNAs throughout Arizona,” said Dr. Piotrowski. “Our students are training at facilities right now that have slots they need to fill for anesthesia providers. When our students graduate, they will be well-prepared to fill these positions.”

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About Marshall Foundation

A shrewd businesswoman and UA professor, Louise Foucar Marshall bought land in and around the University and founded the Marshall Foundation in 1930 to support education and youth, particularly those who were less fortunate. When Mrs. Marshall died in 1956 at the age of 92, she left all of her assets to a volunteer Board of Directors who continue her legacy of giving today. Since that time, the Marshall Foundation solely through the management of its real estate assets and through the redevelopment of the area known as Main Gate Square has donated over $21 million to the University of Arizona in scholarships, special projects, and to not-for-profits in Pima County.

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