This year, January 22th through 28th is CRNA Week 2017, a time when the nation recognizes just how important certified registered nurse anesthetists are to the nation's healthcare industry. It's also a time to consider the potential benefits of utilizing these professionals to a greater extent — and to take a new look at the rich variety of benefits of locum tenens CRNA staffing to help improve operational efficiencies as well as the overall care continuum.
"In today's changing healthcare environment, patients want healthcare delivered with personal care, at a lower cost, with a high degree of confidence," explains the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA). "CRNAs deliver all of these."
And in a healthcare industry where physicians are at a premium, certified nurse anesthetists may provide a financially viable alternative to anesthetists — on a locum tenens or full-time basis — that doesn't mean sacrificing quality of care. With this in mind, let's take a look at five excellent reasons why today's healthcare employers may want to consider adding locum tenens CRNAs to their long-term staffing plans.
5 Benefits of Locum Tenens CRNA Staffing for CRNA Week 2017
Locum CRNA Staffing Benefit #1: Safe, Cost-Effective Care
"Research shows that certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are the most cost-effective anesthesia providers with an exceptional safety record," the AANA states.
"According to a 1999 report from the Institute of Medicine, anesthesia care is nearly 50 times safer than it was in the early 1980s," the AANA adds. "Numerous outcomes studies have demonstrated that there is no difference in the quality of care provided by CRNAs and their physician counterparts."
Though considering a nursing discipline (rather than a physician specialty, such as anesthesiologists), CRNAs are not without their own stringent educational requirements. The minimum education and experience required for CRNA status involves not only a baccalaureate or graduate degree in nursing (or other appropriate major), but also "an unencumbered license as a registered professional nurse and/or APRN in the United States or its territories" and a "minimum of one year full-time work experience, or its part-time equivalent, as a registered nurse in a critical care setting."
Furthermore, CRNA certification requires graduation "with a minimum of a master’s degree from a nurse anesthesia educational program accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs," as the AANA fact sheet adds.
Locum CRNA Staffing Benefit #2: Versatility
"CRNAs are anesthesia professionals who safely administer approximately 43 million anesthetics to patients each year in the United States," the AANA explains in its CRNA fact sheet.
CRNAs are "highly educated anesthesia experts who provide every type of anesthesia, for patients of all ages, for any kind of procedure, and in every healthcare setting where anesthesia is required," explains the AANA, emphasizing the versatility of these healthcare professionals to provide anesthesia services in all situations, even those where physician anesthetists may currently dominate.
Locum CRNA Staffing Benefit #3: Practice Autonomy & Responsibility
Technically, CRNAs are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), meaning they practice with a high degree of autonomy and professional authority. Like NPs, CRNAs haven't yet achieved full practice autonomy in all states, but the move in that direction has accelerated in recent years. In 2001, for instance, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) ruled that state governors could "opt out" of the federal physician supervision rule; so far, almost 20 states have done so.
In the states that haven't opted out, CRNAs must still work under the authority of a surgical lead. This, however, doesn't detract from their overall efficiency or cost effectiveness, and speaks to the fact that many studies have underlined that they're every bit as safe and efficient as physician anesthetists.
"After analysis of seven years of Medicare data, Dulisse and Cromwell (2010) found the change in CMS policy allowing states to opt out of the physician supervision requirement for CRNA reimbursement was not associated with increased risk to patients," reported NursingWorld in 2014. "Other research suggests that CRNAS are less costly to train than anesthesiologists and have the potential for providing anesthesia care efficiently and competently."
Locum CRNA Staffing Benefit #4: A Rich History; A Rural Emphasis
Again, the AANA points out that nurse anesthetists "have been providing anesthesia care to patients in the United States for more than 150 years — since the Civil War, actually! More recently, the actual certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) credential came into existence in 1956.
"Legislation passed by Congress in 1986 made nurse anesthetists the first nursing specialty to be accorded direct reimbursement rights under the Medicare program," the AANA adds.
This history of nurse anesthetists making a difference is particularly rich in America's rural areas. "CRNAs are the primary providers of anesthesia care in rural America, enabling healthcare facilities in these medically underserved areas to offer obstetrical, surgical, pain management and trauma stabilization services," the AANA explains. "In some states, CRNAs are the sole providers in nearly 100 percent of the rural hospitals."
Locum CRNA Staffing Benefit #5: Cost Savings in Action
The AANA fact sheet also points out that the national average malpractice premium for self-employed CRNAs was 33 percent lower in 2016 than it was in 1988 — and that's 65 percent lower, when adjusted for inflation). This speaks not only to financial advantages of staffing CRNAs, but also to the overall reliability of these versatile healthcare professionals.
"Managed care plans recognize CRNAs for providing high-quality anesthesia care with reduced expense to patients and insurance companies," the AANA adds. "The cost-efficiency of CRNAs helps control escalating healthcare costs."
We invite you to discuss your locum tenens CRNA staffing options with a knowledgeable Staff Care specialist: You can contact us here or submit a staffing request directly via this form.
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