University at Buffalo nurse anesthesia students and faculty, along with other certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) met with State Senators and Assemblymembers in the state capitol on May 10 to support scope of practice legislation for CRNAs.
Senate bill S769A codifies a scope of practice for CRNAs that allows them to practice to the full extent of their education and training. New York is the only state in the US that does not formally recognize the CRNA profession – instead, their scope of practice is regulated by the Department of Health. This staffing model, which requires multiple providers even in routine cases, increases health care costs and limits care access.
“Legislators, Senators and Assemblymembers alike should support this legislation to ensure we can provide the workforce necessary in [New York State] as the anesthesia providers shortage is widely evident,” says Cheryl Spulecki, DNAP, RN, CRNA, ACNP, FAANA, nurse anesthetist program director at the University at Buffalo School of Nursing. “The practice and educating of nurse anesthesia is cost efficient, has an undisputed safety record, and offers anesthesia services to all communities, especially to the rural areas of NYS as sole providers.”
Nurse anesthetists have an extensive history in the US: nurses first provided anesthesia care on the battlefields during Civil War, and nurse anesthesia was the first advanced practice nursing specialty.
The value and safety of CRNA care was once again demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic, when NYS Governor Kathy Hochul signed an executive order allowing CRNAs to practice without supervision. CRNAs were an invaluable resource in strained ICUs managing critically ill COVID-19 patients. They functioned as advanced practice nurses, taking on leadership roles, educating airway management teams, aiding in respiratory management and educating in critical care skills.
“It’s time NYS receives the anesthesia care it deserves,” Spulecki says. “Let’s keep our operating rooms running and provide our communities the services they deserve across all of NYS.”
Published May 18, 2023