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New Anesthesia Provider May Threaten Operating Room Safety
Date:2/24/2009

62 nurses have graduated from the program and 90 percent of those have stayed in the Maryland area for employment as CRNAs. There are 450 CRNAs practicing in Maryland, and by 2015 the University of Maryland will have graduated approximately 210 nurse anesthetists, almost half of the total CRNA membership in Maryland.

"The University of Maryland's nurse anesthesia program is well equipped to meet the needs of Maryland's operating rooms into the next decade. We have been in negotiations with Johns Hopkins Hospitals and hope to meet their anesthesia workforce needs in the coming years," said Lou Heindel, DNP, CRNA, and Director of the University's Nurse Anesthesia Program.

There are 109 accredited Nurse Anesthesia programs nationally including the University of Maryland. The first AA school accreditation standards were approved in 1987 and more than two decades later only five schools have been accredited to train AAs. Additionally, CRNAs are the predominant anesthesia providers in the U.S. Military and Veterans Affairs health care system. AAs are not recognized providers in the Military, while nurse anesthetists have been providing anesthesia care to soldiers on the front lines since the Civil War.

Rural

CRNAs are the sole anesthesia providers in more than two thirds of all rural hospitals. (Source: American Association of Nurse Anesthetists). SB 798 and HB 1161 would decrease the number of operating rooms available to educate nurse anesthesia students because AAs are not allowed to train or supervise student nurse anesthetists.

In addition, this legislation could create a shortage of anesthesia providers in rural areas. Unlike CRNAs, AAs simply cannot meet the need of rural hospitals because they are required to be directly supervised by an anesthesiologist at all times. Because anesthesiologists typically shun working in rural communities,
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SOURCE Maryland Association of Nurse Anesthetists
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