Looking Towards the Future
At Radar Healthcare, we specialize in matching Anesthesia Providers with the best opportunities to meet their personal goals and grow professionally. In these challenging times, we are always on the lookout for new opportunities for you and wanted to share what we’ve been tracking and let you know that we’re thinking about you.
The Diverse Future Roles of CRNAs
As healthcare facilities across the country care for a growing number of patients in the COVID-19 pandemic, providers with versatile skills are more valuable than ever. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are equipped with training and expertise that make them well-suited to various roles in patient care and leadership – which they may be called on to use outside the scope of their normal anesthesia responsibilities.
The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) has recommended that CRNAs “consider seeking out roles within their facilities that best fit their education, training, and skillset to support the needs of their patients, colleagues, and the community.” The pandemic could overwhelm the U.S. healthcare system, and facilities need to develop emergency response plans that utilize their existing resources most effectively. Here are a few ways CRNAs can contribute their diverse skills to best support facilities during COVID-19.
CRNAs are highly skilled clinicians capable of expanding the country’s critical care workforce. They are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who have, on average, three years of prior critical care nursing experience, and specialized knowledge that is crucial in an emergency. The COVID-19 virus results in severe illness in 15.7% of positive cases. Patients with serious cases of the virus may require mechanical ventilation, which involves care from experienced clinicians. CRNAs can help in areas including: airway management (including intubation), ventilator management, vascular volume resuscitation, pain management, and advanced patient assessment.
CRNAs’ expertise in anesthesia and critical care nursing also prepare them to take on leadership roles in emergency preparation and response. They can help develop and implement preparedness programs, policies and procedures, resource management, and organizational communication.
Because CRNAs have extensive knowledge that can be applied to different roles, the AANA recommends that CRNAs and facilities carefully consider which responsibilities are best suited to an individual’s current competencies, skillsets, and privileges. Other factors they should evaluate include government directives or guidance, regulatory requirements, and malpractice insurance coverage.
The AANA stated that if a CRNA decides to accept RN responsibilities, “they may practice as an RN if the role is within their comfort level and within the scope of RN practice in the given facility and state, if the CRNA and facility can meet all regulatory and accreditation requirements for that role, and if the CRNA has completed all of the current competencies for the specific RN role. CRNAs, however, may be held to a higher standard of care and practices than RNs, consistent with the scope of practice for CRNAs in a given state. CRNAs cannot separate themselves from their advanced practice background and their highest level of education and training.”
CRNAs and facilities should ask pertinent questions to understand how CRNAs can provide the most value, such as:
- Do they have the education and core competencies to fit this specific RN role?
- Can they meet the anesthesia standard of care?
- Could they be providing reimbursable anesthesia services?
During emergency situations, healthcare facilities will ask providers to help in any way they can. CRNAs should be sure to stay informed and proactive in their role at this time. They should be prepared to be flexible in their job duties and expectations, working with their facilities to determine where their expertise can have the greatest impact. CRNAs who are on the job hunt should stay vigilant, remembering that their skillset and knowledge base are incredibly valuable.
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