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VA Grants APRNs Full Practice Authority. Almost.

By Jennifer Thew RN  
   January 03, 2017

"This clearly speaks to the underutilization of CRNAs, and it also raises questions about anesthesiologists who spend their time supervising CRNAs rather than actually providing hands-on patient care," she wrote.

"Just imagine how many more veterans could be cared for if start times for surgical and other types of cases requiring anesthesia were no longer delayed unnecessarily while waiting for supervising anesthesiologists to become available."

While The American Association of Colleges of Nursing acknowledges the VA allowing three APRN roles full practice authority is progress, it agrees the policy needs to be extended to include CRNAs.

"AACN believes the full cadre of clinicians will not be maximized within the VHA if CRNAs are excluded," the organization said in a news release.

"AACN appreciates the opportunity that the VA has provided to allow for an additional 30-day comment period on full practice authority for CRNAs. We stand firm in our view that CRNAs would increase access, and will submit additional comments to the VA in collaboration with our colleagues in the community."

Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, president of the American Nurses Association echoed those sentiments.

"The American Nurses Association is pleased with the VA's final rule allowing APRNs to practice to the full extent of their education and training," she said in an official statement.

"However, ANA is concerned with the final rule's exclusion of CRNAs, which is solely based on the VA's belief that there is no evidence of a shortage of anesthesiologists impacting access to care. We join with our colleagues in continuing to advocate for CRNAs to have full practice authority within the VA health care system."

The AANA plans to continue to advocate for full practice authority to be extended to CRNAs at the VA.

"We are charging full steam ahead. A grave injustice has been done to our nation's veterans, who deserve much better. I'm a veteran, so I can sympathize," says Nimmo. "CRNAs are ready to help change the VA culture that long wait times for care are OK. They are not OK. We plan to keep delivering that message until the VA finally gets this right."

Comments on the final rule and full practice authority for CRNAs can be submitted to the VA until January 13, 2017.

Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.

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