House & Senate Committees Approve Legislation to Grant Professional Designation for CRNAs
Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists
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House & Senate Committees Approve Legislation to Grant Professional Designation for Nurse Anesthetists in Pa.
Pennsylvania is one of two states that fails to recognize CRNAs in some form
HARRISBURG (June 8, 2021) --- Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) moved one step closer to finally securing formal title recognition in Pennsylvania after the House Professional Licensure Committee today unanimously approved legislation (H.B. 931) to establish professional designation.
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 House committee vote is a significant milestone in CRNAs’ years-long effort for formal recognition. Identical measures have passed the Senate in recent years, only to stall in the House committee and expire at the end of each legislative session. House Bill 931, sponsored by state Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne), now goes before the full House for consideration.
Over in the Senate, the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee also unanimously voted today to approve companion legislation (S.B. 416), sponsored by state Sen. John Gordner (R-Columbia). Previous measures there have been approved unanimously by the full chamber.
This marks the first time professional designation legislation for CRNAs has advanced beyond the committees in both chambers during the same legislative session.
“CRNAs in Pennsylvania are one step closer to finally getting the recognition they deserve for the crucial role they serve in keeping patients safe, ensuring access to high-quality care, and lowering health-care costs,” 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. “We’re grateful to the committees for their votes and look forward to working with the full House and Senate to move this measure toward enactment.”
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.
But the lack of that professional designation brings logistical and financial challenges for nurse anesthetists. Pennsylvania-based CRNAs often must obtain credentials from other states for certain activities. 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” 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 of these 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 education, training, clinical experience and scope of practice.
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.
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.