Updated: Jul 28, 2021
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Senate Passes Professional Designation Legislation for CRNAs
House passed identical measure Tuesday, moving provision closer to law than ever before
HARRISBURG (June 16, 2021) --- The state Senate today unanimously passed legislation that would finally grant formal title recognition to certified registered nurse anesthetists in Pennsylvania, just a day after the House passed a nearly identical measure.
This marks the first time that both chambers have passed bills granting professional designation to CRNAs, and it is the farthest the issue has ever made it through the General Assembly despite more than a decade of legislative review.
One of the measures still must pass the other chamber before going to the governor for his signature, but the fact that identical bills have passed both the House and Senate is a significant achievement and potentially hopeful sign for enactment.
“We have seen more movement on these measures in the last seven days than we have in the last 10 years --- or ever, really,” said Matt McCoy, DNP, CRNA, President of the Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists (PANA), which represents more than 3,700 CRNAs and students in the commonwealth. “This has been a long and hard fight, but I’m hopeful that we are finally on the cusp of getting CRNAs the recognition they deserve.”
Pennsylvania is one of just 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 specialized training.
The lack of that professional designation brings logistical and financial challenges for CRNAs.
Pennsylvania-based 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” of talented health-care professionals.
The pandemic revealed additional shortcomings.
In response to COVID-19, many CRNAs wanted to contribute more to the facilities where they work but could not. Likewise, hospitals and other health-care institutions wanted to use CRNAs to their fullest capacity during a time of crisis but could not. Many facilities felt restricted by the way the state licenses CRNAs and would not allow nurse anesthetists to provide advanced, critical care services, even though it is within their clinical experience and scope of practice.
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.
For more information about certified registered nurse anesthetists in Pennsylvania, visit www.PANAforQualityCare.com or follow along on social media via Twitter at @PANACRNA or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PANACRNA.