Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Kurt Knaus, P: 717-724-2866
Wolf Administration Supports Professional Designation for CRNAs
Pa. is one of just two states that fails to recognize nurse anesthetists in some form
HARRISBURG (April 29, 2021) --- The administration of Gov. Tom Wolf this week announced that it fully supports professional designation for certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) in Pennsylvania.
The Department of State endorsed the plan in an April 28 letter to the Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists (PANA), which represents more than 3,700 CRNAs and students in the commonwealth. The department, which is responsible for professional licensing, spent more than a year reviewing the proposal as part of its Sunrise Evaluation Report examining the state’s occupational practices.
“This is an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to finally give CRNAs the recognition they deserve,” PANA President Matt McCoy said.
Pennsylvania is one of just two states that fails to formally recognize CRNAs in some form. Because there is no definition for “certified registered nurse anesthetist” under the state’s Professional Nursing Law, CRNAs are recognized only as registered nurses, not as CRNAs.
This brings logistical and financial challenges. Pennsylvania nurse anesthetists who serve in the military must secure designation in another state to provide anesthesia in the armed services. They cannot assist on rapid response teams in states affected by natural disasters because they lack formal credentials. And, after receiving training in Pennsylvania, many nurse anesthetists relocate to states with full credentialing, contributing to the state’s “brain drain.”
Bipartisan measures have been introduced in both the state House and Senate to finally recognize nurse anesthetists as “CRNAs” under Pennsylvania statute.
Senator John R. Gordner (R-Columbia) has re-introduced his professional designation legislation (S.B. 416). An identical measure passed the Senate unanimously in June 2019 before getting stuck in a House committee. Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne) has re-introduced a companion bill (H.B. 931) in the House.
Two-thirds (67%) of Pennsylvania voters support professional designation for certified registered nurse anesthetists, including those who identify as Republican (59%), Democrat (75%) and Independent (62%), according to results of a statewide public opinion poll conducted last year by G. Terry Madonna Opinion Research.
CRNAs are the hands-on providers of anesthesia care, operating safely in every setting where anesthesia is administered, including hospital operating and delivery rooms; ambulatory surgical centers; the offices of dentists, podiatrists, ophthalmologists, and plastic surgeons; pain management centers and more.
With advanced degrees and a high level of education and clinical experience, CRNAs are able to deliver the same safe, high-quality anesthesia care as physician anesthesiologists but at a lower cost, helping to control the nation’s rising health-care costs.
Because of their training and experience, numerous medical studies show there is no statistical difference in patient outcomes when a nurse anesthetist provides treatment. In fact, these studies by nationally recognized health-care policy and research organizations prove that CRNAs provide high-quality care, even for rare and difficult procedures.