“In times of war and peace, military service requires a commitment, when there is often a sacrifice to be made for something greater than oneself,” said AANA President Angela R. Mund, DNP, CRNA. “As a veteran myself, I know what many veterans are experiencing personally in terms of healthcare challenges. As we honor those members of the military who served their country with such devotion, it is our turn to honor their service and make sure veterans have timely access to the care they need.”
Out of almost 60,000 CRNAs, 5% serve in the military, and 1,000 CRNAs provide care in VA healthcare facilities. Nationwide, CRNAs deliver more than 50 million anesthetics each year and practice in every setting from hospital emergency rooms to ambulatory surgical centers.
Since before World War I, CRNAs have provided courageous, excellent care for soldiers and veterans under the most difficult circumstances. CRNAs have full practice authority in the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force and are the predominant provider of anesthesia on forward surgical teams and combat support hospitals.
In 2016, the VA issued a final rule granting three of the four advanced practice registered nursing (APRN) specialties full practice authority, allowing them to practice to the full scope of their education and training, excluding only CRNAs. Since then, reports have continuously highlighted a lack of access to anesthesia services in the VA, which the APRN final rule cited as a reason to revisit the decision to leave CRNAs out.
Veterans Need Care Now, a grassroots coalition committed to reducing surgical wait times in U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities, recently released the results of a survey of voters and veteran households that found veterans and their families continue to experience critical health care delays at VA facilities. In the survey, over eight in ten (82%) felt that reducing wait times for veterans’ health care was very important reason for support, and 39% felt it was one of the most important. This wide support extends across party, age, gender, race and all other key demographics, but is especially strong among veterans and their families.
“CRNA full practice authority within the VA will increase veteran access to care, decrease wait times and lower costs. This reduction in cost will allow vital resources to be reallocated to other veterans’ services, including housing, job training and mental health care, “said Mund. “In addition to being the most cost-effective delivery method for anesthesia, CRNAs practicing independently deliver high-quality safe anesthesia care to veterans.”