Why the Anesthesia Shortage??

  1. I started to ask this on the "why doesn't OK have a CRNA program" thread, but I wanted to hear what the experts have to say

    so.. why the shortage?? I think I know part of the reason, the aging baby boomers (both retiring from the profession and entering the OR more ). The increased life expectancy
    As I mentioned in the other thread, I am under the impression that many schools have closed down in the last 20 years due to the MS degree and more advanced types of cases required by the AANA.

    but what other dynamics are at work here?

    Matt
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  2. 3 Comments

  3. by   loisane
    In addition to the factors you mentioned:

    The general nursing shortage is affected by the increased work opportunities for women, while we have not offset this with an increase in the number of men entering nursing. And many nurses don't stay in nursing, they leave the profession for a variety of reasons.

    In terms of anesthesia, some think we underestimated the need for new providers in the 90s. There was a prevailing view then that there would be less surgery occuring, as health care was reorganized. So there would be less of need for anesthesia.

    Of course, this did not happen. And there has been a growth in the venues for anesthesia outside of the OR -invasive radiology/ diagnostics, cath lab, GI labs, pain management, etc.

    I have also heard the opinion that there are always cycles of feast or famine, this one is just another, and it will get better with time.

    These are certianly not all the factors. I am sure others will think of some more.

    loisane crna
  4. by   smogmatt
    so has there been a glut of CRNA's/MDA's recently? within the last 15 years??
  5. by   loisane
    Hmmm-more like the perception of a possible glut in the future. A future that is now in the past, if that doesn't sound too crazy.

    In lots of professions, including anesthesia, there are people who do work force analysis to project future trends. Then those projections are used to make policy decisions. So in the early 90s, policies steered people away from anesthesia (medical and nursing), in order to keep the workforce balanced with the actual need.

    I cannot say that this explanation is a widely accepted truth. I have heard it in some circles. But of course, there are other explanations too. And which one of them you think is the primary reason for how we got where we are, well is somewhat personal opinion.

    The pendulum always swings. There aren't enough providers, salaries go up, lots of people want to go to school, schools increase enrollment, spots get filled, salaries level off, sign on bonuses dry up, less interest in school, schools might even decrease class size a little, until the next cycle, and it starts over.

    This current shortage is more pronounced, and prolonged than previous ones. Even so, some people are claiming to see signs of recovery already, while others dispute this.

    What can I say? Keep your ear to the ground, and try to read the signs as best you can.

    loisane crna

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