Jakkarin “Jake” Sareerak, program director for the proposed DNP-NA Degree Program, shares his experience as a CRNA and his vision for the program in development.

Critical thinker. Self-directed. Emotionally intelligent.

Those are the qualities that make a strong student at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis. They are also the personal attributes that have driven Jakkarin “Jake” Sareerak, program director for the school’s proposed Doctor of Nursing Practice — Nurse Anesthesia (DNP-NA) Degree Program, is his career as a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA).

“It is by far one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” Sareerak said. “With the level of autonomy, critical thinking and hands-on skill, no two cases are alike. But the most rewarding thing about being a CRNA is the ability to be with the patient from the beginning to end of their surgery.”

Meet the new DNP-NA Program Director
Jakkarin “Jake” Sareerak With over a decade of experience as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, Jakkarin “Jake” Sareerak brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to clinical, academic and leadership roles.
Read more about Jake’s background

Sareerak has traveled quite a distance from his time waiting tables at a Denny’s. He received an associate degree in nursing and Bachelor of Science in Biology. He continued his education, earning a master’s-degree in nurse anesthesia, a DNP in health leadership and, currently, is in a DNP to Doctor of Philosophy program in nursing education. It’s that education piece he uses to envision the UC Davis program in development.

“I am planting the seed of excellence in in nurse anesthesia education,” he said. “The School of Nursing puts a lot of emphasis on transforming health care through education, research and practice, all of which align close with my only career goals.”

There are only five accredited DNP-NA programs in California. The UC Davis will be the sixth in the state and the first in the University of California system. The proposed three-year program combines distanced-based online education with on-campus or on-site immersion, simulation or clinical experiences to prepare CRNAs. Sareerak says the program is full-time, rigorous and for nurses who put a support plan in place before enrolling.

Rather than hampered by legacy programs, Sareerak says developing a new program from the ground up offers unique opportunities for both faculty and students. He compares it to building a new house, where each element is designed and then constructed exactly as you envision.

“You get to work with a team of like-minded people for that end goal of creating one of the best programs in the nation,” he said.

In California, there are almost 40 million people, but there are only 8,500 providers — a quarter of whom are CRNAs — who specialize in anesthesia. Out of these, 2,200 are nurses who are certified to administer anesthesia. CRNAs provide a large share of anesthesia services in rural areas and other underserved communities. But 2020 legislation made the shortage of anesthesia specialists even worse.

Inequitable access to health care and understanding the cultural differences of patients served in California are woven into the program’s DNA. While legislatures across the country are removing diversity, equity and inclusion programs from higher education, the School of Nursing is committed to improving health equity for everyone.

“I feel like it's very important that we train future health care providers to mimic the demographic of the community because there are many nuances that people from other backgrounds may not understand,” Sareerak explained. “

Sareerak says this environment is optimal to develop a program, curriculum and clinical sites that address the inequities in health care and meet the evolving needs of the state.

“We get to do an ongoing assessment and reassessment of the curriculum and tailor it so that it would fit the needs of our student and the program. Now from the student perspective, you get to be a part of a culture to fine tune their curriculum and direction of the program. In my opinion, an opportunity like this doesn't come up that often,” he said.

The DNP-Nurse Anesthesia program will open for admissions in fall of 2024 and matriculate its first cohort in June of 2025 pending final degree program approvals from the University of California, as well as initial accreditation from the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA).