Washington Observer-Reporter | March 27, 2021
In the most ordinary situations, surgery and anesthesia can be frightening or intimidating. Certified registered nurse anesthetists provide comfort and reassurance to help diminish these uncomfortable feelings and they never leave their patient’s side. We’re usually the last people patients see before a procedure begins and the first to greet them when they awaken.
When this pandemic separated families in crisis, the promise of CRNAs to be there for every heartbeat, every breath took on a whole new meaning. CRNAs are uniquely qualified to care for critically ill patients who are suffering because of this respiratory pandemic. Many CRNAs have been serving as frontline health-care workers, fulfilling critical roles inside and outside the operating room during this crisis.
Unfortunately, Pennsylvania remains just one of two states that fails to formally recognize “certified registered nurse anesthetist” in some form. Because there is no definition for nurse anesthetists under the state’s Professional Nursing Law, CRNAs are recognized only as registered nurses, despite their advanced education and training. The lack of recognition leads to underutilization of CRNAs in many critical roles. This brings logistical and financial challenges, and Pennsylvania CRNAs often must obtain credentials from other states for certain activities such as serving in the United States military.
It’s long past time for the state to act. The commitment of CRNAs during this health-care crisis has availed more physicians to provide hands-on care, expanded the capacity of both CRNA and physician providers to help patients, and augmented the state’s health-care system to continue to meet the growing demands of this pandemic. CRNAs deserve full title recognition in Pennsylvania.
Heather A. Towers DNAP, CRNA