AANA Applauds Addition of CRNAs To SAMHSA Practitioner List

Rosemont, Ill. (AANA) – In a recent final regulation issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), CRNAs, also known as nurse anesthesiologists or nurse anesthetists, have been permanently added to the definition of a practitioner who is appropriately licensed by a state to prescribe and dispense medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD).

This final rule was an update from an original rule proposed in December 2022 and went through several modifications, including those from American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (AANA) advocacy outreach.  

“We applaud SAMHSA for its decision to include CRNAs in the definition of practitioner as it supports practitioner autonomy and creates a patient-centered view while reducing barriers to OUD care,” said AANA President Dru Riddle, PhD, DNP, CRNA, FAAN.  “AANA shares the healthcare community’s concern about the increase in opioid drug use, abuse and deaths and is committed to working collaboratively to achieve comprehensive solutions to curb the opioid epidemic in the United States. This is especially true in areas with a high level of provider shortages, such as rural and underserved areas.”

CRNAs, as professionals in the science of nurse anesthesiology, work in rural and underserved communities where the need to decrease reliance on opioids is great. CRNAs have been on the front lines of developing novel non-opioid based treatments for both chronic and acute pain, and AANA supports maximum flexibility in allowing pain treatment plans that rely on the clinical judgment of the practitioner directing care. CRNAs are chronic pain management practitioners, managing pain through a multimodal approach that includes opioid-sparing or non-opioid pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic pain mitigation strategies. 

“As a main provider of pain management services, CRNAs are uniquely skilled to provide both acute and chronic pain management in a patient-centered, compassionate, and holistic manner,” said Riddle. “As members of one of America’s most trusted professions, CRNAs have always served on the front lines of patient care from the beginning, and we continue to answer the call to help keep patients healthy and safe.”

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