New program helps students LEAP into nurse anesthesia careers

Forefront Magazine, Summer 2021
Zoom meeting of nurse anesthesia students in the LEAP program.

Critical care, cardiothoracic intensive care, pediatrics and trauma are just a few of the specialties 10 students bring to a new, innovative, one-year certificate program to jumpstart their nurse anesthesia education.

The Leadership Excel and Achievement Program (LEAP) pilot program offered by Case Western Reserve University’s Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing and four affiliate institutions was designed to engage a wider student pool and encourage underrepresented minority students to join the field of nurse anesthesia.

Intended for students whose current skills and qualifications don't align with accredited CRNA doctoral programs, the one-year LEAP certificate program equips them with the knowledge necessary to begin their studies to become CRNAs. Once completed, each student is automatically enrolled in one of five doctoral-level nurse anesthesia programs: Case Western Reserve, Columbia University, Medical University of South Carolina, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Arizona.

Based in Los Angeles, California, Marco Oliveros, RN, has been a nurse for eight years, primarily focused on cardiothoracic intensive care. The challenging nature of the field is part of what drew him to want to become a CRNA.

“It’s the hardest advanced practice nursing program to get into and to finish,” Oliveros said. “I’ve always enjoyed a challenge, its rich history, the autonomy, and I have not met a CRNA that is not happy with the choice they made.”

Sonya D. Moore, DNP, CRNA (NUR ’16), nurse anesthesia program director and assistant professor at the school of nursing, created LEAP to encourage and support nurses who have demonstrated academic success and the motivation to enter the field. The response to the program was significant. More than 100 applicants vied for the 10 available pilot program spots.

“I believe the robust number of applicants is reflective of the competitiveness of traditional programs,” Moore said. “LEAP is a way for nurses who want to become a nurse anesthetist, have a strong work ethic and passion for nursing, but who may benefit from a focused preparatory program.”

Oludayo Akinboboye, RN, joins LEAP from Newburgh, New York, where he is a cardiac intensive care unit nurse. Having worked in nursing for seven years, Akinboboye said what excites him most about his profession is helping people during a vulnerable time and seeing them improve through care.

“I know it can be nerve racking for patients to be in the hospital, so I try to make them smile occasionally to take their mind off of their worries,” he said. “I am pursuing the CRNA profession because I want to expand my critical thinking to the highest level. This will enable me to give culturally competent care while utilizing advanced knowledge to maintain the stability of a patient pre-, during- and post-op.”

See more from this issue of Forefront.

New program helps students LEAP into nurse anesthesia careers