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Measures Seek to Formally Recognize CRNAs in Statute

Tuesday, May 17, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Sarah Dailey
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Measures Seek to Formally Recognize CRNAs in Statute


HARRISBURG (May 17, 2016) --- Certified registered nurse anesthetists are the main hands-on provider of anesthesia care in Pennsylvania, and have been for more than a century, yet the commonwealth remains among only a handful of states that do not formally recognize CRNAs in statute. That would change under companion measures advancing in the House and Senate.


The two bills --- S.B. 481, sponsored by Sen. Pat Vance (R-Cumberland/York), chairwoman of the Senate Public Health & Welfare Committee, and H.B. 764 introduced by House Majority Whip Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) --- would define “certified registered nurse anesthetist” under the state’s Professional Nursing Law. Right now, CRNAs are recognized only as registered nurses. All but five states, including Pennsylvania, recognize CRNAs in statute.


“CRNAs deserve recognition for the role they play in ensuring safe, reliable, affordable care, and for standing side by side with patients every step of the way, no matter the procedure --- whether it’s open-heart surgery or pain management,” said Ann Culp, president of PANA, which represents more than 3,000 CRNAs and students in Pennsylvania.


Dozens of CRNAs and students visited Harrisburg today to urge legislators to support the bills.


Pennsylvania is among the highest draws nationally for certified registered nurse anesthetist students --- there are 12 nurse anesthetist programs in the commonwealth. But because Pennsylvania does not have an official CRNA designation in statute, many graduating students wait for placement, as long as six months or more, when they return home. That’s because state boards must verify that these students meet the requirements necessary to be classified appropriately in those states.


Defining CRNA in Pennsylvania law would carry across borders, help these students get placed so they can start working immediately and maintain the commonwealth’s professional leadership in the field.


CRNAs safely administer more than 34 million anesthetics to patients in the United States each year and practice 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; and pain management centers.


CRNAs also remain the primary anesthesia providers in rural America. In fact, more than two-thirds of all rural hospitals rely on CRNAs to provide anesthesia care. Without CRNAs, some 1,500 facilities would be unable to maintain trauma stabilization and surgical and obstetrical capabilities, forcing many rural Americans to travel long distances for such services.


In Pennsylvania, nurse anesthetists must obtain a bachelor’s degree, graduate with a minimum of a master’s degree from a nurse anesthesia accredited program, complete additional hours of clinical work (the average student nurse anesthetist completes almost 2,500 clinical hours) and pass a national exam in order to be able to practice. CRNAs also must be a registered nurse, and they must be recertified every four years. Nurse anesthetists’ recertification includes meeting advanced practice requirements and obtaining a minimum of 40 continuing education credits.


Because of this training and experience, numerous medical studies show there is no statistical difference in patient outcomes when a nurse anesthetist provides treatment with or without an anesthesiologist present. And, as health-care demands continue to grow, increasing the number of CRNAs will be a key to containing costs while maintaining quality care.


Learn more about CRNAs in Pennsylvania. Visit, or go to Twitter at @PANACRNA and Facebook at




CONTACT:       Kurt Knaus

Phone: 717-571-5687