Open Letter to Our Nurse Anesthetist Colleagues
as published in ASA Monitor, June 2021
Almost every day, we have the privilege of working with you. We recognize your service to our patients, anesthesia groups and departments, hospitals, and surgery centers. We respect your vital role and value the signiﬁcant contributions you make to the anesthesia care team. Together, we provide our patients the safest and highest-quality care as they battle diseases, have their joints replaced, or bring new life into the world.
Our partnership is one of the oldest in medicine and is a proven and successful model of care. We know many of you value and thrive in this model as well. ASA is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the longstanding working relationship between physician anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists.
We are concerned, however, that the actions of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists’ (AANA) leaders threaten this relationship. AANA’s initiative for nurse anesthetists to adopt the term “anesthesiologist” is less about respecting your role on the anesthesia care team and more about creating discord within it. Using the term “anesthesiologist” to describe a nurse anesthetist is incorrect and misleading. It also discounts the importance and credibility of your achievements in the nurse anesthesia profession — a profession with a more than 100-year history. Title misappropriation and plans for an organizational name change are a distraction for all of us and not in the best interest of our patients.
We are united by our shared commitment to patient care. ASA intends to dispute and prevent any AANA actions that intentionally degrade the important relationship between our professions and the patients we serve. ASA calls on AANA to focus on our patients and the anesthesia care team — and stop misrepresenting titles.
Please join us in upholding the proven strength of the anesthesia care team — for the best interest of our patients.