International Council of Nurses Report Stresses Importance of CRNAs to Universal Healthcare Coverage

PARK RIDGE, Ill. (AANA)—The International Council of Nurses (ICN) recently issued “Nurse Anesthetists Guidelines,” to provide developed and developing countries with clarity on the role and practice of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs). The report highlights the role CRNAs play throughout the world as a solution to making surgical and anesthetic services a reality for all patients.  

The Guidelines heavily reference Scope of Nurse Anesthesia Practice developed by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) to define the professional scope for nurse anesthetists. 

“Many low- and middle-income countries have a critical need for both physicians and nurses specialising (sic) in anesthesia,” the report cited. “One solution to this problem is increasing access to Nurse Anesthetists.” 

For example, in the United States, CRNAs play an essential role in ensuring that rural America has access to critical anesthesia, sedation, and pain management services. They often serve as the sole anesthesia provider in remote hospitals, affording these facilities the capability to safely and cost-effectively provide many necessary procedures, including obstetric care.   

CRNAs expertly care for the whole patient, not just their condition, and make patient care more affordable and accessible. There are 4x more CRNAs than anesthesiologists in poor rural counties,” AANA President Steven M. Sertich, CRNA, MAE, JD, Esquire, said. “The ICN report reviewed literature and concluded that there were no differences in outcomes between anesthesia providers. CRNAs can provide safe care in low-income and middle-incomecountries as well as high-income countries like the United States.” 

Report authors included AANA members Betty J. Horton, PhD, MA, MSN, CRNA, FAAN, co-chair, IFNA/ICN Task Force for the development of Guidelines for Advanced Practice; Rebecca L. Madsen, DNP, MS, CRNA, APRN, IFNA Education Committee chair and co-chair, IFNA/ICN Task Force for the Development of Guidelines for Advanced Practice; and Jacqueline S. Rowles, DNP, MBA, MA, CRNA, ANP-BC, NSPM-C, FNAP, FAAN, IFNA president and Council of National Representatives USA. 

CRNA expertise in airway management, monitoring and management of patients on ventilators, placement of invasive lines, and overall management of critically ill patients uniquely positioned them to provide lifesaving care to those suffering from COVID-19. A recent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services report on patient services noted that CRNAs are among the top 20 specialties that served the most beneficiaries between March 2020 and June 2020, during the beginning of the pandemic. 

Advanced practice nurses such as CRNAs are members of one of the most trusted professions according to Gallup. For more than 150 years, nurse anesthesiology has put the healthcare and well-being of patients first. CRNAs provide anesthesia care across all settings and in all patient populations, including all branches of the U.S. military.