Skip to Main Content

Degrees and Requirements

Master of Science in Health Science (Nurse Anesthesia)

NOTE: Due to the unexpected Covid-imposed restrictions on clinical rotations over the last two semesters, Allegheny School of Anesthesia has decided to suspend admissions for the Fall of 2021. 

Today's nurse anesthetists need advanced theoretical knowledge and extensive clinical experience to meet the critical demands of their profession. La Roche University's graduate program in health science offers an integrated approach to nurse anesthesia education: a valuable blend of theoretical classroom learning and clinical practice and research that's geared to a complex and rapidly changing field.

Baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses pursuing a master's degree full-time combine theoretical course work at La Roche University with clinical-based education and practicum at Allegheny School of Anesthesia (ASOA), located at Allegheny General Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center.

Current Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) can supplement their clinical expertise and earn advanced degrees with part-time, graduate-level study.

By developing a broad base of knowledge in the biophysical sciences, both non-CRNA and CRNA students can gain the expertise necessary for comprehensive anesthesia management of patients. You'll learn to develop management strategies for patients of various age groups with different co-existing disease processes by applying the theoretical concepts studied in the classroom. You'll also develop the research skills necessary to solve complex problems on the job, and to evaluate current anesthesia literature. Development of leadership skills essential for managing patients within a multidisciplinary framework is an essential component of our program.

La Roche University has been a leader in nurse anesthesia education for over 25 years. After a decade of offering a bachelor's degree in the field, the University moved its curriculum to the graduate level in 1987, following a mandate by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) that anesthesia education be offered at the graduate level by the late 1990s.

The strong reputations of La Roche University's health science program and Pittsburgh's health care arena have attracted students from across the country and around the world to pursue advanced specialty education in nurse anesthesia. In turn, health science graduates are highly sought for positions nationwide.

One of the program's greatest strengths is its faculty. Dedicated, full-time professors hold doctorates and are recognized in their areas of expertise. Experienced adjunct faculty are highly respected professionals from La Roche University's affiliated school of anesthesia and Pittsburgh's health care community. Together, they provide a unique blend of theory and practical application leading to a challenging education that prepares qualified nurses to meet the changing demands of the anesthesia profession.

Graduate Health Science Curriculum

The graduate program in nurse anesthesia is a 24 month format, consisting of two parts: a La Roche University portion, and a clinical-based portion taught at ASOA. A student seeking to become a CRNA must complete both parts of the curriculum successfully in order to be granted the Master of Science in Health Science from La Roche University. Students who already possess the CRNA credential (but wish to earn the Master's degree) are required to complete only the La Roche University portion of the curriculum.

The graduate program is a full-time program. Incoming students officially begin in the fall semester, and take five consecutive semesters of courses at La Roche University. For first year students, La Roche courses are taught on Thursdays and Fridays, and professional preparation in the hospital is scheduled on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Summer session classes at the end of year one are offered during the late afternoon and early evening. For second year students, the La Roche courses are taught on Mondays, with clinical work scheduled for the remainder of the week. The remaining time is spent entirely at the program's affiliated clinical sites: Allegheny General Hospital, The Western Pennsylvania Hospital, Forbes Regional Hospital, Alle-Kiski Medical Center, Butler Memorial Hospital, Passavant Hospital, Sewickley Valley Hospital, St. Clair Memorial Hospital and The Beaver Medical Center, and Wheeling Hospital.

The La Roche University portion of the graduate program consists of three components:

  • The first component provides students with a broad base of knowledge in the biophysical sciences, through which they can develop expertise in the anesthesia management of patients in the perioperative, resuscitative and ventilatory support phases of care. This part of the curriculum includes courses in anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology; organic, medicinal and biological chemistry; pharmacology; and medical physics.
  • The second component is designed to introduce students to the methodology of research including the nature of scientific thinking, selection of research techniques, analysis and interpretation of data and formulations of conclusions. As part of this component, students are required to design and present a project in anesthesia education or anesthesia research. The goal of the research component is to establish the critical thinking skills needed to evaluate medical research and to provide an understanding of research methodology. Students also have the option of writing and defending a Master's thesis.
  • The third component consists of advanced theory courses in anesthesia. Students are presented with principles and techniques involved in anesthesia management of patients of varying ages and health conditions.


    Curriculum Goals and Objectives:

  • to prepare practitioners in the area of anesthesia
  • to develop nurse anesthetists as consumers of and contributors to anesthesia research
  • to prepare nurse anesthetists to serve as leaders, educators and role models in anesthesia and health care delivery systems
  • to prepare specialists who are able to facilitate managerial improvement in the delivery of anesthesia service
  • to provide nurse anesthesia students with a sound foundation for entry into doctoral study.

Upon completion of the master's level nurse anesthesia program, the students will be able to:

  • demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the fundamental sciences to ensure greater competence in anesthesia practice, as well as teaching in a nurse anesthesia program
  • engage in collateral reading in anatomy, physiology, chemistry, pharmacology, and clinical subjects related to the field of anesthesia
  • conduct research and evaluate current literature in order to initiate and provide improved anesthesia and acute patient care
  • assume a leadership role in collaboration with health care team members and serve as a role model for future health care providers
  • function as a resource person for nursing staff/other learners
  • apply principles of research to the clinical anesthesia setting
  • design, implement, evaluate and revise an anesthetic care plan for assigned patients
  • utilize appropriate scientific principles related to asepsis, anesthesia and respiratory techniques
  • apply knowledge of nursing theories and models in advanced nursing and specialty areas of nurse anesthesia practice.

Course Sequence

The La Roche University requirements include 49 credits of courses, taken in the sequence shown below.

Note: courses in the summer of Year One are offered in six-week blocks. HSCG5012 is scheduled in session 6A (the first block) and HSCG5010 follows in the second block (session 6B).

In addition, all students are required to register for two additional 6-credit courses which are taught at Allegheny School of Anesthesia: HSCG5030 (Anesthesia Didactics I) and HSCG6030 (Anesthesia Didactics II).

Students at Allegheny School of Anesthesia take HSCG5030 (Didactics I) in Year One and HSCG6030 (Didactics II) in Year Two

The total credits for this graduate program, including HSCG5030 and 6030, is 49.

Note: students who already possess the CRNA credential are exempt from taking HSCG5030, 6030 and 6055. Your total credit requirement for the Master of Science degree is 33.

Summary of Requirements

1. Fall Year One:  

  • HSCG0001
    PROFESSIONAL ASPECTS OF ANESTH

    HSCG0001
    PROFESSIONAL ASPECTS OF ANESTH

    Credits (Min/Max): 1/1

    This course includes an introduction to the ethics, legal aspects, psychology, and professional adjustments associated with a career in anesthesia. The history of anesthesia and nurse anesthesia is presented, as well as a discussion of the role of the CRNA in department management and organization.

    PREREQUISITES:

    Graduate Students Only

  • HSCG5000
    ADVANCED PHARMACOLOGY I

    HSCG5000
    ADVANCED PHARMACOLOGY I

    Credits (Min/Max): 3/3

    This course introduces the basic principles of pharmacology. Topics include the pharmacokinetics of drug absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion; the mechanisms of drug action; drugs affecting the central nervous system and the autonomic nervous system; inhaled anesthetics; and neuromuscular blocking agents and reversal.

    PREREQUISITES:

    Graduate Students Only

  • HSCG5003
    ORGANIC AND MEDICINAL CHEMISTRY

    HSCG5003
    ORGANIC AND MEDICINAL CHEMISTRY

    Credits (Min/Max): 3/3

    This is a one-semester survey course in organic chemistry organized around the functional groups of compounds. Aspects of organic chemistry pertinent to health, environment, and biochemistry are stressed. Time permitting, classes of drug molecules will also be examined. Because concepts such as spatial orientation and geometric, optical and conformational isomerism are essential to an understanding of drug action, these concepts are essential to the course.tion.

    PREREQUISITES:

    Graduate Students Only

  • HSCG5021
    ADVANCED ANATOMY, PHYSIOLOGY ANDPATHOPHYSIOLOGY I

    HSCG5021
    ADVANCED ANATOMY, PHYSIOLOGY ANDPATHOPHYSIOLOGY I

    Credits (Min/Max): 5/5

    This course is a study of the structure and function of the human body. Emphasis is placed on the nervous, muscle and cardiovascular systems. Selected pathophysiology of each of the above systems will be examined.

    PREREQUISITES:

    Graduate Students Only

  • HSCG5030
    ANESTHESIA DIDACTICS I

    HSCG5030
    ANESTHESIA DIDACTICS I

    Credits (Min/Max): 6/6

    This course is an introduction to anesthesia practice and techniques. It includes topics which deal with pre-operative evaluation and interview of patients, anesthetic drugs, anesthesia selection and care plans, patient positioning, fire safety, postoperative visits, monitoring, anesthesia machines, airway management, venipuncture, and other principles of anesthetic management.

    PREREQUISITES:

    Graduate Students Only

  • HSCG5101
    CLINICAL PRACTICUM I

    HSCG5101
    CLINICAL PRACTICUM I

    Credits (Min/Max): 0/0

    An orientation to the perioperative clinical area, providing the SRNA with hands-on experience in the basic skills of anesthesia delivery, including equipment check, basic drug set-up, preoperative patient assessment, initiating IV therapy, patient positioning, airway management, anesthesia induction, mask/LMA/intubation techniques, anesthesia maintenance, fluid and drug calculations, emergence techniques, extubation techniques, and safe transfer of patient care to PACU personnel. SRNAs will be expected to bring the classroom to the OR, by correlating theory to practice. SRNAs will also gain an appreciation of the role of the CRNA, as part of a multidisciplinary team, in the delivery of anesthesia care. They will deliver anesthesia to patients with a variety of comorbidities, presenting to the OR for a wide variety of surgical procedures. Each SRNA will be assigned by the Program Director to one of the program's affiliating clinical sites, either alone, or in groups, depending on the clinical site. During this clinical practicum, SRNAs will be assigned to a CRNA preceptor, who will provide direct clinical supervision, guidance and evaluation.

    PREREQUISITES:

    Graduate Students Only

2. Spring Year One:

  • HSCG5001
    ADVANCED PHARMACOLOGY II

    HSCG5001
    ADVANCED PHARMACOLOGY II

    Credits (Min/Max): 3/3

    This course is a continuation of Advanced Pharmacology I. It is an intensive and comprehensive study of drugs and adjuvant agents currently utilized in the practice of anesthesia and therapeutics. The course will include a review of local and intravenous anesthetics; narcotic agonists and antagonists; other psychotropic agents; anti-inflammatory drugs; and drugs that act on the cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, hepatic, gastrointestinal and hematological systems.

    PREREQUISITES:

    Graduate Students Only

  • HSCG5004
    BIOCHEMISTRY

    HSCG5004
    BIOCHEMISTRY

    Credits (Min/Max): 4/4

    This course is an introduction to the chemistry of living organisms. It includes a discussion of cellular macromolecules, metabolic pathways, energy transformation and respiratory mechanisms. The composition of body fluids is also considered. The effects of anesthesia on body fluids, on the function of major organs, and on the activity of specialized molecules will be described. The major theories of narcosis and their biochemical implications will be examined.

    PREREQUISITES:

    Graduate Students Only

  • HSCG5022
    ADVANCED ANATOMY, PHYSIOLOGY ANDPATHOPHYSIOLOGY II

    HSCG5022
    ADVANCED ANATOMY, PHYSIOLOGY ANDPATHOPHYSIOLOGY II

    Credits (Min/Max): 5/5

    This course is a continuation of Advanced Anatomy, Physiology, and Pathophysiology I. The course will cover the cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, hepatic and endocrine systems. Selected pathophysiology of each of the above systems will be discussed.

    PREREQUISITES:

    Graduate Students Only

  • HSCG5102
    CLINICAL PRACTICUM II

    HSCG5102
    CLINICAL PRACTICUM II

    Credits (Min/Max): 0/0

    PREREQUISITES:

    Graduate Students Only

3. Summer Year One:

  • HSCG5010
    RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

    HSCG5010
    RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

    Credits (Min/Max): 3/3

    This course is designed to explore the nature, value, and utility of nursing research. An overview of the process by which research is conceived and conducted is presented, with emphasis on varying approaches and methodologies, conceptual consistency, and ethical considerations. Critical appraisal of published research affords the student the opportunity to become a more discriminating consumer of research and a better-informed participant in the research process. The relationships among research, theory, and practice are presented and linked to the student's arena of practice.

    PREREQUISITES:

    Graduate Students Only

  • HSCG5012
    MEDICAL PHYSICS

    HSCG5012
    MEDICAL PHYSICS

    Credits (Min/Max): 4/4

    This is a survey course in physics, which will cover topics of importance to anesthetic applications. Essential concepts related to atomic structure, pressure, hydrostatics, hydrodynamics, the ideal gas laws, diffusion, heat and vaporization will be presented. The physics of fire and explosions as well as safety issues will be discussed. The development of problem solving skills will be emphasized.

    PREREQUISITES:

    Graduate Students Only

  • HSCG6101
    CLINICAL PRACTICUM III

    HSCG6101
    CLINICAL PRACTICUM III

    Credits (Min/Max): 0/0

    This clinical practicum will be a continuation of Clinical practicum I and II, however, will provide the SRNA with hands-on experience with more advanced anesthesia techniques, such as central and peripheral regional blocks and central line placement. SRNAs will be assigned specialty rotations, including cardiac, regional, trauma, pediatric and neuro.

    PREREQUISITES:

4. Fall Year Two:

  • HSCG6012
    NURSING RESEARCH II: EVIDENCE- BASED NURSING PRACTICE

    HSCG6012
    NURSING RESEARCH II: EVIDENCE- BASED NURSING PRACTICE

    Credits (Min/Max): 3/3

    PREREQUISITES:

    Graduate Students Only

  • HSCG6030
    ANESTHESIA DIDACTICS II

    HSCG6030
    ANESTHESIA DIDACTICS II

    Credits (Min/Max): 6/6

    This course examines specific anesthetic techniques used for surgery involving pediatric, neurosurgical, obstetric, thoracic, dental, endoscopic, vascular, cardiac, abdominal, emergency, diagnostic and outpatient procedures. Conferences will be an integral part of this course and will include a review of journal articles and case discussions.

    PREREQUISITES:

    Graduate Students Only

  • HSCG6102
    CLINICAL PRACTICUM IV

    HSCG6102
    CLINICAL PRACTICUM IV

    Credits (Min/Max): 0/0

    PREREQUISITES:

5. Spring Year Two:

  • HSCG6055
    ADVANCED THEORY AND HEALTH ASSESSMENT

    HSCG6055
    ADVANCED THEORY AND HEALTH ASSESSMENT

    Credits (Min/Max): 4/4

    This course is designed to build upon the student's basic knowledge and skills. It will encompass and integrate a variety of input for medical and anesthetic management. It will focus on a greater depth of understanding and the ability to analyze concurrent problems that can arise in patient care and propose an appropriate course of management.

    PREREQUISITES:

    Graduate Students Only

  • HSCG6103
    CLINICAL PRACTICUM V

    HSCG6103
    CLINICAL PRACTICUM V

    Credits (Min/Max): 0/0

    PREREQUISITES:

6. Summer Year Two:

  • HSCG6104
    CLINICAL PRACTICUM VI

    HSCG6104
    CLINICAL PRACTICUM VI

    Credits (Min/Max): 0/0

    PREREQUISITES: