Why PAC

Why Now?

I am reading a book, “From Silence to Voice – What Nurses Know and Must Communicate to the Public” by Bernice Buresh and Suzanne Gordon. The authors are two journalists that have written about what they learned about nurses when they were media consultants to the Nurses of America (NOA). While they write about nurses in general, much of what they write can be applied to Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and other Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs).

The authors found that everyone had more of a public voice on health and health care issues than nurses. Not surprisingly, physicians were the most frequently quoted group. Nurses, on the other hand, were always either in last place or tied for last place and provided only 1.1% of quotations in the print media. Why is it, in anesthesia, the practitioners that actually deliver the care are not considered the experts? A profession’s public status and credibility are enhanced by having its expertise acknowledged in the journalistic media and by the people making the laws and ultimately, the changes in health care.

We have all watched with concern, amazement, or perhaps anxiety or excitement as health care has changed since the introduction of health care reform. While we may agree to disagree as to whether the changes are for the good or deleterious, the fact is that it is the law of the land and we must be proactive and take a seat at the table or we will allow other organizations to speak for us and dictate our practice. Buresh and Gordon noted that “a profund ambivalence exists in nursing about whether it is even advisable to be more visible, more vocal, and to assume a larger role on the public stage…[and that] conditioning goes on within nursing to inhibit the kind of public communication that would make nursing known.”

Nursing, like every ther profession in today’s world, must justify its existence and compete for resources. Since the release of the Institute of Medicina (IOM) report, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health” in 2011 which advocates APRNs practice to the full extent of their education and training, we have all felt the wheels turning forward in recognizing not only how valuable APRNs are but how necessary we are to providing cost-effective, quality health care. Per the IOM report, “Nursing represents the largest sector of the health professions, with more than 3 million registered nurses in the United States.”

“From Silence to Voice” compares this number to the 690,000 physicians and surgeons. The authors go on to say, “The fact is nursing’s major strength is in its members and the influence it can bring to bear through those numbers.” AANA reports there are over 40,000 CRNAs. It is time for us to stop being semi-invisible people!

A Political Action Committee (PAC) is a type of organization that pools campaign contributions from members and donates those funds to campaign for or against candidates, ballot initiatives or legislation. This year, VANA will be initiating its own PAC. We must have a voice when issues such as practice rights and reimbursement are discussed. No one can speak better to our competencies, quality and value than we, ourselves. VANA-PAC will allow us to have that voice. The PAC will allow us to support candidates for state office who have taken responsible positions regarding quality health care and other issues of importance to CRNAs, regardless of their political affiliation. It will also allow us to increase the visibility of the nurse anesthesia profession as well as allow for participation in the legislative process. An accurate picture of Nurse Anesthetists will emerge when CRNAs and VANA are able to tell legislators, and ultimately the public, what we can do and why it is so important. We must pool our resources for the advancement of our profession. Let us join voices and be silent no more.

For more info or to help with the PAC contact: Jean Snyder, DNAP, CRNA, PAC Chair at snydjf32@cox.net

Healthcare is changing. Of this, there is no doubt.

Nurses and other highly skilled non-physician practitioners, are being called on to play a greater role in providing high quality, lower cost health care. As Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, we will play a vital role. In Virginia, outdated regulatory barriers have prevented advanced practice nurses from practicing to the full extent of their education and training. Some insurances still do not recognize and allow payments to CRNAs. Your donation to Virginia CRNAs Who Care About Healthcare can help to change this. Please make your donation today. Thank you!

Jean Snyder, CRNA, MSNA CRNA-PAC Chair