And this comes from the PRESIDENT of the American Society of Anesthesiologist Assistants
Again, assertions that AAs and CRNAs function at the same level -absolutely misleading.
And, what's with "anesthesia nurse"? If it sounds condescending in print, can you imagine how it would sound out of his mouth? What arrogance.
At least there is a phone number listed at the end of the article. Let's call Rob and let him know what we think of his little article!
Read carefully, SRNAs, this is a grim foreboding...
[font=Courier New]Licensed anesthesiologist assistants help access to medical care
By Rob Wagner
Re: "Don't weaken the standards for anesthesia providers" (My View, April 11).
Maybe you or someone you know has had surgery delayed. Perhaps hospitals in your
area have closed operating rooms as they have in Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa and
elsewhere in Florida.
One reason for growing problems of this nature for patients is a shortage of
anesthesia providers. These are the assistants who help
physician-anesthesiologists perform the critical task of putting you to sleep
There is a common-sense solution rapidly making progress in the Florida
Legislature and around the country, which is to license anesthesiologist
assistants (called AAs). Key legislative action is expected today in Florida's
House Health Care Committee on HB 1381/SB 2332 and it is important that
lawmakers support it.
They need to be assured that this legislation will not weaken standards because
AAs are highly trained and perform the same function as anesthesia nurses. AAs
like myself serve patients in 16 states and have impeccable safety records. AAs
have worked with a high level of safety for 30 years in Georgia and Ohio.
AAs are required to have three times the hands-on, clinical training than are
most anesthesia nurses who currently assist anesthesiologists. Before we are
allowed to enter AA school, we must take the same courses physicians take as
pre-med students. Nurses do not do that. In fact, as the chief anesthetist at
St. Joseph's Hospital in Atlanta, I am in charge of both AAs and anesthesia
If you are "going under," who would you rather have assisting the
anesthesiologist; someone trained to work directly with him or her, or a nurse?
We enjoy our professional relationships with our nursing colleagues. Yet nursing
organizations in Florida continue to misinform, even scare the public, calling
our profession "new" and "experimental."
Try telling that to the prestigious Emory University in Atlanta or Case Western
in Cleveland, which have been training AAs for more than three decades. Or try
to tell that to boards of medicine that oversee AAs in the states in which we
practice and whose members readily vouch for our safety record.
Try telling that to Medicare, the nation's largest health insurer, which
reimburses AAs and anesthesia nurses at the same rate. This means our skill
levels are viewed equally. And tell the insurance companies. They charge no
difference in malpractice insurance
fees between anesthesia nurses and AAs,
meaning our safety records are equal. Try telling that to the Florida Medical
Association, American Medical Association and American Society of
Anesthesiologists, whose members resoundingly support our working in Florida. In
the era of malpractice crisis, doctors are certainly not going to support
"experimental" health care providers.
Why, then, would the anesthesia nurses be opposed to this? In a word, money.
Because of nurse shortages, their salaries are artificially high, up to $150,000
in Florida. If you made that kind of living, wouldn't you try to keep the
This nursing shortage is well documented on the Web sites of Florida schools
that train anesthesia nurses, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
and yes, even on the anesthesia nurses' own Web site, www.aana.org
, where the
shortage is called "serious" and "acute."
To help relieve the problem, two institutions, the University of Florida and
Nova Southeastern, are ready to open special schools for anesthesiologist
assistants in Florida. Would those schools offer programs if they didn't think
AAs are in great demand? Would they risk their reputations on an "experimental"
profession? Of course not.
One AA can mean five more patients per day will get their surgery. That's 1,200
patients per year treated with the help of only one AA. If you are or know one
of those patients, I'm sure you would be grateful to the Florida Legislature for
passing this common-sense legislation.
Rob Wagner is chief anesthetist at St. Joseph's Hospital in Atlanta and
president of the American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants, PO Box 13978
Tallahassee, FL 32317 Phone: 656-8848.