Derek Reckard, MSN, PHRN, CRNA, was named the new president of the Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists on Oct. 20 at PANA’s fall symposium at Omni Bedford Springs Resort in Bedford, Pa.
Reckard has a long history of serving PANA and its members. He has been an active board member for five years.
Before being named PANA president-elect last year preceding his elevation to the top post this weekend, Reckard served as a board Trustee and was the association’s Federal Political Director. He also served on PANA’s Governance Committee, which included state government affairs, and was chairman of the committee for the last two years.
With that background, Reckard brings a firsthand knowledge of the importance of interactions between lawmakers and their constituents --- namely, the CRNAs who live in policy-makers’ home districts.
He helped to spearhead several drop-in days for CRNAs in both Harrisburg and Washington, D.C., where nurse anesthetists walked the halls of the state and federal Capitol buildings and talked directly to state legislators and congressmen.
Expect that tradition to continue during his one-year term in 2018-19.
Reckard said he is focused on increasing member engagement, as the coming year is the best time to launch the initiative. Both the state General Assembly and Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation expect record turnover.
That means there are plenty of opportunities for CRNAs to introduce themselves and the profession to these new elected leaders --- and to start building the bridges that are needed to enact policies that benefit CRNAs and the individuals they care for.
Reckard’s initiative, “Be a KEY Contact,” which stands for the “Keystone Engagement Year,” involves recruiting volunteers who will serve as leaders who then recruit other CRNAs into advocacy work.
Actions include visiting a new legislator’s district office, with PANA and government affairs support; hosting an event with other CRNAs in the area to talk about important issues; serving as the hospital spokesperson who talks with other CRNAs in the break room or who will simply share information around the watercooler about issues PANA is managing; and much more.
Information being shared could be about planned legislative votes, upcoming PANA elections, PAC fund-raisers, regional meetings or anything else of interest.
Reckard also knows the strength of PANA is its membership. Each year, more and more people are showing up at Capitol Days and getting engaged with legislative activities. If you have ideas about how to grow the “Be a KEY Contact” campaign, let him know.
It remains as important as ever for CRNAs to remain engaged. Not only will record numbers of new lawmakers be in office, but some of the most critical issues will still be pending when the new two-year legislative sessions kick off in January 2019.
PANA successfully defeated attempts in the legislative session that just ended to push through a “scope of practice” bill that would have mandated physician supervision of nurse anesthetists in Pennsylvania. It was a major victory. Expect the anesthesiologists to make another push at the bill in the new session.
Reckard also will continue the fight for professional designation, which would formally recognize certified registered nurse anesthetists as “CRNAs” under state statute. Pennsylvania is one of just two states without designation. New York is the other.
A designation bill did advance fully through the Senate, only to get caught up in the House, but the passage provided momentum to build on when the process restarts with a new General Assembly. And the committee chairman in the House who blocked the bill has retired. It creates opportunities.
Regardless of the legislative issue, or association business, Reckard is committed to making sure PANA does all it can for its members … and that its members do all they can to help the association advance the policies that will strengthen and enhance the profession for the benefit of CRNAs and patients alike.
Reckard replaces Jodie Szlachta, Ph.D., MSN, CRNA, who will remain on the board as immediate past president and continue to support the association’s legislative, policy, outreach and advocacy work.
Look for more information about Reckard and a personal presidential message on www.PANAforQualityCare.com after his installation.