Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, more commonly known as CRNAs, have been providing care since the 19th century. As medical care evolves, CRNAs continue to learn new and improved ways to treat patients, which can include avoiding opioids.
"A couple of really good questions you could ask your CRNA are, 'are there alternatives to opioids?' Because, yes, definitely there are," said Giovanna Mahar, immediate past president of NYSANA. "'How effective will they be in my recovery?' And then, 'what can I take instead of an opioid?'"
New York is the only state in the country without a scope of practice for CRNAs.
"In New York, we’re recognized under hospital code," Mahar said. "I have a nursing license in New York. I do not have an advanced practice license, which is a little sad. CRNAs have been providing anesthesia since the Civil War. So, we’re not a new profession. This would really help in recognizing the amount of work that we’ve put into our educations and our careers. It would write into law who we are. I think it would also help the patients with setting the expectation that we have of ourselves and that they should have of us in our standards of care.
Mahar also notes that CRNA’s are crucial in rural areas, and sometimes are the only ones able to provide anesthesia in those smaller hospitals. Right now, lawmakers are reviewing legislation that would codify a CRNAs role in the state’s healthcare system.