Grants Totaling $1.5 Million Bolster UB's Efforts to Train Nurse Anesthetists For Medically Underserved Areas

By Lois Baker

Release Date: November 15, 1993 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo School of Nursing has received two grants totaling more than $1.5 million to recruit and educate nurse anesthetists who will practice in rural and other medically underserved areas locally and nationally.

A grant for $757,695 from the Indian Health Service is a one-of-a-kind award to UB to recruit Native Americans to be nurse anesthetists. The goal of the grant is to encourage these recruits, once they have received their master’s degrees, to provide care to Native American populations throughout the United States.

Another grant, for $797,803 and awarded by the Division of Nursing of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, will be used to enhance UB’s existing nurse anesthesia curriculum, develop rural clinical-training sites and recruit ethnic minorities and persons from rural areas into the nursing school's nurse anesthesia program.

The nurse anesthetist is the primary provider and monitor of anesthesia in many areas of the U.S., particularly those outside urban population centers. A 1990 study conducted by the National Center for Nursing Research showed that at that time, the nation needed 6,000 more nurse anesthetists.

UB’s efforts to help alleviate the shortage will take several approaches.

The five-year Indian Health Service grant will provide eight full scholarships to Native Americans. Program staff will recruit nationwide, concentrating on the major Indian Health Service medical centers in Gallop, N.M.; Phoenix, Ariz., and Anchorage, Alaska, as well as Western New York’s large Native American population.

The grant also provides money to set up financial, social, academic and other support programs to help recruits complete the 27-month master’s program.

UB has an established track record recruiting and educating Native American nurses. Its Native American Nurse Practitioner program has been in operation for six years, and has attracted students from New York and several western states.

The three-year grant from the Department of Health and Human Services will allow the nursing school to expand its nurse anesthesia program specifically to accommodate candidates who are willing to work in rural areas or with ethnic minorities. Recruitment will be concentrated within those populations, and training centers will be established in outlying areas to attract persons interested in practicing in rural areas.

Statistics from a 1991 survey of health-care personnel in Western New York underscore the need for these nursing specialists. Nurse-anesthetist positions had the highest vacancy rate -- 14.3 percent -- and were among the five most difficult health-care positions to fill.

The UB nursing school will make its program more accessible by giving admission preference to ethnic minorities and residents of rural areas. Beginning courses will be offered at State University College of New York at Fredonia and Jamestown Community College, to facilitate enrollment of students from Western New York’s rural Southern Tier. Advanced courses will be offered at UB.