Newswise — PARK RIDGE, Ill. -- The American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (AANA) encouraged the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to develop national standards of practice for healthcare professionals to ensure its facilities provide the highest quality of care for the nation’s veterans.
In an Aug. 25 letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough, AANA President Dina Velocci, DNP, CRNA, APRN, highlighted the importance of allowing Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and other providers within the VA to work at the top of their education and training. “Given the VA’s well established federal supremacy, there is no doubt the VA can and should create national practice standards that are reflective of the full scope and education of healthcare providers.”
National standards of practice will allow all healthcare professionals working in the VA system to have consistent scope and requirements of practice, notwithstanding any state license, registration, or other requirements. Since nearly one-third of all VA medical facilities have one or more sites of care in another state, and 14 percent of licensed healthcare professionals employed by the VA have a state license, registration, or certification in another state than their main VA medical facility, having national standards of practice would allow these providers to care for veterans where and when they need it most.
“The development of national standards of practice is critical to ensuring that our veterans have access to the care they deserve and will ensure continuity of care,” Velocci said in the letter. “Every veteran should be able to access that care in any VA facility. Ensuring that national practice standards for non-MD/DO providers are robust and allow providers to practice to the top of their scope will help to increase access to care, reduce wait times for veterans at VHA facilities, and reduce costs.”
AANA’s letter also stressed that during the COVID-19 public health emergency, the VA waived unnecessary regulations that the national standards of practice should make permanent. For example, during the pandemic, AANA collaborated with the VA on a travel nurse program to help ensure CRNAs were available in COVID hotspots, even if that meant traveling across state lines. “Through this partnership, CRNAs were able to bring their advance skills, including advanced airway and ventilator management, placement of invasive lines and monitors, and skill as team leaders, to help treat the sickest COVID patients, illustrating the need for national standards that allow providers to work at the top of their scope.”
Earlier this year, AMVETS, one of the largest veterans’ service organizations in the United States, called for similar standards during testimony in front of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. AMVETS, in their testimony, stated that the creation of national practice standards was also necessary to implement the new joint VA-Department of Defense electronic health record system.
This interoperability system will help ensure that there is no disruption in healthcare for active members of the military as they transition to veteran status. “AMVETS believes these new national practice standards must be inclusive of all health care services that its health care professionals are authorized to provide in any state. Anything short of fully comprehensive practice standards will unnecessarily limit Veteran access to care and negatively impact Veteran access and health outcomes,” according to their testimony.