Susan Bazemore: Department of Veterans Affairs CRNA, SRNA mentor and mother of future CRNA

U.S. Navy Veteran Susan Bazemore works as the chief certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. She feels fortunate that her employer grants nurse anesthetists with a certain level of autonomy, but because of long wait times at other VA facilities nationwide, she believes CRNAs should be granted full practice authority.

In the military, all anesthesia providers are licensed independent practitioners – a consistency Susan says the VA could benefit from as well.

“It’s hard for some VA facilities to recruit CRNAs because their scope of practice is so restricted,” said Susan. “I think full practice authority would create and attract more anesthesia providers who want to work at the VA.”

In May, the VA published a proposed rule extending full practice authority to CRNAs, which would allow them to provide anesthesia services without the oversight of a physician when working within their scope of practice. The proposed rule would increase the number of qualified health care professionals who are authorized to provide safe and cost effective anesthesia care to veterans in a timely manner.

Recognizing all VA advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), which include CRNAs, to their full education and training provides a common-sense solution to the challenges associated with ensuring America’s veterans have access to the high-quality healthcare they need and deserve.

“Anesthesiologists can be a valuable resource in the operating room by providing anesthesia care rather than supervising competent CRNAs,” said Susan. “Even when CRNAs are performing a relatively simple procedure like an endoscopy, which we will most likely perform by ourselves, we still have to find a physician to sign our charts.”

With 33 years’ experience working as a CRNA, Susan mentors future nurse anesthetists as a clinical site coordinator at her VA facility. Duke University and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences student registered nurse anesthetists do their clinical cardiac training at her hospital.

“I had great instructors and mentors while in anesthesia school and want to provide students with a positive clinical experience when working alongside them,” she said. “I enjoy seeing their enthusiasm as they gain clinical skills and knowledge.”

After listening to her father’s stories and experiences in the military, Susan was inspired to join the Navy. She initially worked as a nurse before attending the Navy’s anesthesia program at George Washington University in Bethesda, Maryland.

Susan’s stories and experiences as a CRNA most likely influenced her daughter Kaitlyn who is in the nurse anesthesia program at Duke and will be a CRNA when she graduates in August 2017.

Susan encourages CRNAs, anesthesia providers and surgeons to submit letters to their congressman or congresswoman and to the VA to advocate for full practice authority for APRNs. All comments must be received on or before July 25, 2016: