Not everyone thinks so, especially the AANA.
There was an editorial on this topic in the ASA newsletter by Doug Bacon.
I had responded to Dr Bacon's comments with a recitation of several articles in the AUA newsletter which support his musings that the AANA is actively working to diminish the training programs that are at the core of our specialty.
The ASA newsletter chose not to publish my comments so I post them here.
Letter to the Editor, ASA newsletter
I agree with Dr Bacon’s evaluation of the evidence suggesting that AANA, by its actions, is working aggressively to defeat fixing the anesthesiology teaching payment rule. As such they are actively hurting our future. With better funding nurse anesthetists have opened 22 new training programs since 2000, whereas 8 anesthesiology residency programs have closed (30 since 1994). The ASA’s efforts at reconciliation with AANA may be for naught.
I refer the interested member to recent issues of the AUA Update, the newsletter of the Association of University Anesthesiologists (http://www.auahq.org/newsletter.html). In the Summer 2006 issue the AUA President Roberta Hines outlined the financial impact of this legislation emphasizing the importance of it to the future of the specialty. In that issue also was a report of a speech by the then ASA President Orin Guidry who presented clear evidence that AANA was effectively undermining efforts of the ASA to promote legislation that would correct the payment reductions for teaching residents. Notably CMS includes AANA as a stakeholder in this physician-related legislation. One may speculate how this came to be. Indeed the AANA position paper on the topic ends with:
Message to Congress: Oppose teaching rules changes that disrupt fair payment treatment between nurse anesthetists and anesthesiologists. The rules should not unfairly advantage one type of provider over another.
This continues their theme, promulgated to legislators, that nurse anesthetists, despite not having undergone the rigors of premedical education, medical school, and residency, are equivalent to anesthesiologists.
The Fall 2006 issue contained an overview by James Hall of the status of anesthesiology assistants programs, perhaps an alternative that organized anesthesiology could promote to provide alternate members for the anesthesia care team who would be less likely to work against us. Anesthesiologists should work with their state legislators to develop licensure pathways for AAs and academic programs need to support and develop AA schools. Also in that issue was a report on a NY Times article on the movement of nurses from the third world to the US such that every new nurse anesthetist translates into one less bedside ICU nurse, which in turn further contributes to the nursing shortage in poor countries, despite the fact that there are non-RN alternative anesthesia providers.
The Winter 2006 issue contained a report of Jerry Reve’s Rovenstine lecture with his analysis of problems with anesthesiology research, many of which can be addressed through the financial impact of the teaching rule. The problems he identified may be construed as a symptom of our difficulties providing proper academic support of anesthesiologists in training.
The Summer 2007 issue includes an article by Robert Johnstone, an ASA Director, who describes efforts by the AANA to promote a competing bill that would include direct Medicare funding of student nurse anesthetists. He describes his chagrin, upon talking to his legislators, of learning that the nurse anesthetists had already visited with a competing message. Finally, Johnstone’s article prompted a comment by me:
The following can be found on the Webpage of
my state society:
“On May 2nd, the Pennsylvania House Insurance Committee met for testimony on Governor Rendell’s health plan. Representatives from the
The evidence appears compelling that AANA is actively working against the efforts of the ASA to ensure the future viability of Anesthesiology. The AANA is a large society, and most of the nurse anesthetists we work with belong to it and thus can be assumed to support its activities, daily collegiality notwithstanding. Chamberlain is widely thought to have blown it in his disregard of the evidence that he faced. I wonder if we are doing the same?
W Andrew Kofke MD MBA FCCM
Editor AUA Update
Professor University of Pennsylvania
Submitted to ASA Newsletter June 25, 2007