Biology (MS)

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The Mayo Clinic Health System- Franciscan Healthcare School of Anesthesia and the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse (UWL) Biology Department have partnered to develop a program to meet the specific needs of the nurse anesthetist student.

The School of Anesthesia operates within the Mayo Clinic Health System Franciscan Healthcare complex in La Crosse, Wisconsin.  Students are taught in a didactic and clinical setting during the course, which requires 27 consecutive months of study.

Upon completion of the 31 graduate credits required of the program, students will have earned a Master of Science Degree in Biology from the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse.

The School of Anesthesia is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA) of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs, a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education.

COA contact information:
Mail:  222 South Prospect Avenue, Park Ridge, Il
Telephone:  847-692-0750

COA Standards and guidelines for educational programs may be found on their website.  The program’s next scheduled accreditation onsite visit by the Council on Accreditation will be in the Fall of 2025.

Program statistics

Matriculation rates, success rates for first-time takers on the Certification Exam and employment rates are listed below and are published on the UWL website.

Matriculation year20122013201420152016
Number of Graduates 10 10 10 10 10
Matriculation rate (%) 100 100 100 100 100
Certification pass rate (%)
first time takers
80 100 90 100 80
Employment rate (%)
within 6 months of graduation
100 100 100 100 100

For more program information, please contact:

Jessica Peterson, CRNA
Program Director
Franciscan Healthcare School of Anesthesia
700 West Avenue South
La Crosse, Wi 54601

Admission Requirements

Admission Prerequisites

Student applying for admission to the School of Anesthesia must meet the following requirements without regard to gender, age, race, creed, color, or national origin:

  1. Must be currently licensed as a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.
  2. Be eligible for a Registered Nurse (RN) license by the Wisconsin Department of Nursing.
  3. Have 18 months (24 months preferred) of nursing experience in critical or intensive care setting (ICU, CCU, SICU, PICU, NICU).
  4. Be a graduate from an accredited school of nursing that offered credits in biophysical sciences including 1 semester of microbiology, 2 semesters of anatomy/ physiology, and 2 semesters of chemistry and / or physics.
  5. Have an undergraduate Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 3.00 on a 4.0 scale.

Admission Procedure

  1. Submit a completed application for admission to Franciscan Healthcare School of Anesthesia including a $40 non-refundable processing fee (Make check payable to:  Franciscan Healthcare School of Anesthesia).
  2. Submit a completed application for admission to the graduate program of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Biology Department including a $56 non-refundable processing fee. Apply electronically. Acceptance to UWL’s program does not guarantee acceptance into the School of Anesthesia.
  3. Submit official Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores to UW-La Crosse Department of Biology (general exam only, not subject exam).
  4. Submit unofficial GRE scores to the Franciscan Healthcare School of Anesthesia.
  5. Submit official transcripts of educational experiences to UW-La Crosse and Franciscan Healthcare School of Anesthesia. 
  6. Submit three letters of reference to the Franciscan Healthcare School of Anesthesia.  One must be from a current supervisor.  The others may be from colleagues, physicians, or a professor.  The “Confidential Report on Applicant” form may be used. 
  7. Submit a copy of your current RN license to the Franciscan Healthcare School of Anesthesia.

The deadline for applications is October 1st.  Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.  Applicants will be screened and eligible candidates will be invited to appear for a personal interview before the Franciscan Healthcare School of Anesthesia Admissions Committee in late October or early November.

The program is submitting its application to the Council on Accreditation (COA) for Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs to transition to awarding of the Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.  Candidates applying to be admitted in 2018 may be admitted to the MS Biology Nurse Anesthesia Concentration track or the DNP CRNA track.  If approved by the COA 6 students will enter the MS Biology track and another 6 students will enter the DNP track in May 2018.  If the program is not approved to award the DNP all students will enter into the MS Biology track.


Basic and Applied Sciences Applicable to Anesthesia

  Contact hours Semester Credits
Anatomy, Physiology, and Pathophysiology 320 20
Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics 48 3
Pharmacology of Anesthetic Drugs 112 7
Physical Assessment for Anesthetists 32 2

 Principles of Clinical Anesthesia

  Contact hours Semester Credits
Professional Aspects of Practice- History, Ethics, Legal  48 3
Principles of Anesthesia Practice- Preoperative evaluation, Post-anesthesia surveillance, Selection of Anesthetic Agent/Positioning, Monitoring and response to monitored information, Management of altered physiology  96 6
Clinical Practicum-Experience in administering anesthetics   1800 in the clinical area, under direct supervision of an MDA-CRNA. Approximately 900 surgical/ obstetrical procedures are experienced. Assignment in the clinical arena coincides with classroom instruction.    
Clinical Conferences and Seminar- Discussion of specific Topics relevant to student needs.  To include related conferences and review. 64 4

Instruction/ Practice in Ancillary Services

  Contact hours Semester Credits

Ancillary services to anesthesia practice- PACU and pain Management (20 hours):  Basic Life Support (5 hours), Neonatal Resuscitation (5 hours), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (8 hours), Pediatric Advanced Cardiac Life Support (16 hours)

48 3

Curriculum for completion of Master of Science in Biology

  Contact hours Semester Credits
Endocrinology 48 3
Research 32 2

Clinical Affiliations

Additional clinical experiences in general surgery and specialized procedures (open-heart) is obtained at Gundersen Health System during the course of the program.  This rotation is approximately four weeks in length and is available to second year students.  Gundersen Health System is within walking distance of Mayo Clinic Health System- Franciscan Healthcare.  Clinical rotations are also available at Community Memorial Hospital (Winona Health) in Winona, Minnesota and Vernon Memorial Hospital (CRNA only practice) in Viroqua, Wisconsin.  These sites provide students with regional experience in a diverse practice style.  Both sites are approximately 35 miles from La Crosse.  Available to second year students, transportation is the student’s responsibility.  An additional clinical site is available for semester breaks and the summer session of the second year.  The CRNA only practice site in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin at Sauk Prairie Memorial offers experiences in regional and postoperative pain management services.  Transportation is the responsibility of the student; the School of Anesthesia pays for lodging.


The Franciscan Healthcare School of Anesthesia, as a vital part of Mayo Clinic Health System Franciscan Healthcare, subscribes to the philosophy of the organization.  We fervently promote Christian concepts which emphasize the dignity of all human person, their origin, purpose, and destiny.  Society is a complex and evolving entity within which the common good and the changing needs of groups and individuals must be fulfilled.  As a member of society, every person has the basic right to good health care and easy access to health care services. 

We believe that anesthesia care is an individualized therapeutic relationship which recognizes the individual dignity of the patient and his right to life. 

We accept the nurse anesthetist assumes a professional obligation to preserve these concepts in his/ her relationship with the patient.

We believe that upon completion the student is prepared to be not only a certified registered nurse anesthetist, but with graduate education, a potential educator and researcher in the sense that clinical investigation and problem solving are an integral part of nurse anesthesia.  As a result, the student till have developed insight and direction for resourceful and constructive professional practice, will regard life-long education as a professional obligation, will use sources of knowledge effectively and fulfill professional, ethical, and societal obligations.

Program Objectives

Upon completion of the course of study and fulfillment of the terminal objectives and other obligations of the program, students of the School of Anesthesia will have achieved eligibility to write the qualifying examination of the National Board Certification of Nurse Anesthetists.  Through the course curriculum and clinical preparation, student will meet the following program objectives:

  1. Perform a preanesthetic interview and assessment
  2. Evaluate patient history, physical, and appropriate lab and x-ray data.
  3. Develop an appropriate anesthesia care plan consistent with the overall medical and nursing regime.
  4. Administer general anesthesia for all ages and all categories of patients, utilizing a broad variety of techniques and agents.
  5. Perform/ manage regional anesthesia.
  6. Use and interpret a broad variety of monitoring modalities.
  7. Manage fluid / blood therapy within the medical plan of care.
  8. Recognize and take appropriate action when complications arise during anesthesia management, consistent with standards of practice and policy of the organization, and referring to a physician all problems beyond these limitations.
  9. Position or supervise positioning of patients to assure optimal physiologic function and patient safety.
  10. Function as a team leader/ member in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and possess ACLS and PALS recognition.
  11. Perform arterial punctures, interpret and take appropriate actions with reference to screening pulmonary function and blood/gas determinations.
  12. Supervise and/ or provide consultation for ventilator care for patients in acute-care situations.
  13. Utilize appropriate principles of basic and behavioral sciences in protecting patients from iatrogenic complications.
  14. Teach paramedical personnel in area of expertise and contribute to community health care education.
  15. Recognize personal and professional strengths and limitations and appropriate action consistent with valid self-awareness.
    1. Accept constructive criticism, make appropriate changes, and seek appropriate personnel for advice and consultation.
    2. Practice effective communication skills.
    3. Promote and maintain effective interpersonal relationships.
    4. Maintain an industrious and productive work standard.
    5. Demonstrate understanding, compassion, and empathy.
    6. Recognize own value system and refrain from imposing individual values on others.
    7. Demonstrate ability to perform effectively under stress.
  16. Know and function within appropriate legal requirements as a licensed professional, accepting responsibility and accountability for your own practice.
  17. Participate in state and national professional organizations in preparation for active involvement.
  18. Demonstrate the ability to critically assess and apply research concepts.
  19. Develop and participate in anesthesia programs as a skilled educator and researcher.


The 27-month program is scheduled as follows, combining classroom experiences at UW- La Crosse and the School of Anesthesia with clinical experiences at Mayo Clinic Health System- Franciscan Healthcare.

First Year

Summer session Credits
BIO 511- Anatomy 6
ESS 782- Echocardiography 3
ANES- Physical Assessment for Anesthetists 2
Semester 1 -Fall Credits
Bio 718- Advanced Human Physiology I 4
ANES-Seminar 1
ANES-Pharmacology I & II 3
ANES-Clinical Practicum I   --
Semester 2- Spring Credits
Bio 719- Advanced Human Physiology II 4
ANES-Seminar 1
ANES-Advanced Concepts 3
ANES-Pharmacology III 3
ANES- Clinical Practicum II --
Summer session Credits
ANES- Professional Aspects   3
ANES- Clinical Practicum III --

Second Year

Semester 1- Fall Credits
BIO 570- Endocrinology 3
BIO 715- Pathophysiology I 3
ANES- Seminar 1
ANES- Clinical Practicum IV  --
Semester 2- Spring Credits
BIO 717- Pathophysiology II 3
CHEM 530- Chemistry 3
ANES- Seminar 1
ANES- Clinical Practicum V --
Summer Session Credits
ANES- Clinical Practicum VI --
ANES- Research 2

Student Time Commitment to the Program

This program provides for a flexible integrated time commitment and management.  The program commitments include:

  • Didactic class and home study- class preparation and study requires approximately two hours of study for each one hour of class.
  • Clinical experience
  • Call time- students rotate in-house call experience and are required to take call on weekends and holidays when their rotation requires.
  • Pre-operative evaluations and postoperative surveillance.

All students will be allowed up to 20 days of Student Time Off (STO) each academic year.  STO is managed by the student and used at his/ her discretion with clinical coordinator approval.  The STO program combines the benefits traditional identified as vacation, floating holiday, sick, conference, and funeral time.  STO allows the student to manage his/ her time consistent with lifestyle needs. Holiday in-house coverage will be shared as weekend coverage is.

Student Employment

Because of the heavy study demands of the program, students are limited to accepting outside employment to only those weekends when they are not committed to the program.  Additionally, students may not work a 2300-0700 shift when they must report to the program at 0630.  No student may be employed as a CRNA by title or function while in student status.

Tuition and Costs


Tuition costs for the School of Anesthesia are $1500 yearly and are subject to annual increase.  Tuition at the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse varies from semester to semester depending upon credit load.  Total costs for the entire program are approximately $15,000 for students who are Wisconsin residents and approximately $30,000 for non-residents.   Tuition payments for the School of Anesthesia are due on a yearly basis in August.  UW-La Crosse payments are on a semester basis.  View tuition, fee, and refund information for UW-La Crosse.

Anticipated Costs (Mayo Clinic Health System- Franciscan Healthcare only)

Application Fee- $40

Acceptance Fee- $1500

The application fee must accompany the application.  The acceptance fee is payable only after the applicant is accepted into the School of Anesthesia and is applied to tuition.  The acceptance fee is non-refundable.

Textbook Costs

The cost of required textbooks is approximately $600.  The student will be mailed a list of the required textbooks with their orientation material after they are accepted into the program.  The student will be responsible for purchasing the required textbooks.  A fully equipped and modern library is maintained for exclusive use by our students.

American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) Membership

Upon entering the school, all students are jointly registered with the Council on Accreditation for Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs and the National Board for Certification and Re-certification of Nurse Anesthetists. The fee is $200 for the duration of the program and paid by the student.

Refund Policy

Should any student withdraw for any reason or should the student be dismissed from the program the School of Anesthesia tuition will have the following refund policy:

For Student Leaving Before                                       Amount Refunded

December 31st (1st year)                                              $750

December 31st (2nd year)                                             $700

The School of Anesthesia has no control over the fees paid to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. 

Loans and Grants

Applications for Financial Aid can be obtained from the University of Wisconsin Financial Aid Office.  No stipend is paid for any part of the program.