Letter to the Editor: State needs to recognize certified registered nurse anesthetists
To the Times:
Surgery and anesthesia can be intimidating. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are advanced practice nurses who specialize in anesthesia and are required to be experienced critical care nurses. CRNAs provide continuous care during anesthesia. We’re usually the last people patients see before a procedure begins and the first to greet them when they awaken. Frequently, anesthesia includes amnesic agents and often, our patients do not remember us or even realize they were cared for by a nurse anesthetist.
During this pandemic, many CRNAs served as front line health-care workers, fulfilling critical roles inside and outside the operating room. CRNAs were uniquely able to utilize their specialized skill set, which includes critical care experience, to care for critically ill patients suffering from this respiratory pandemic in intensive care units or operating rooms.
CRNAs are recognized only as registered nurses, not nurse anesthetists, in Pennsylvania, despite their advanced education and training because there is no definition for nurse anesthetists under Pennsylvania’s Professional Nursing Law. Pennsylvania remains one of only two states that fail to formally recognize CRNAs. This roadblock forces Pennsylvania CRNAs to obtain credentials from other states to provide mission, volunteer, and military work.
Pennsylvania legislators should act to provide CRNAs with the title recognition they need and have earned.
Jodie Szlachta CRNA, Ph.D, Program Director, Crozer-Chester Medical Center / Villanova University Nurse Anesthesia Program