Gov. Janet Mills is facing many challenges, with a pandemic and its economic devastation at the top of the list.

The arduous process of choosing hundreds of appointees to staff state agencies to manage these crises, is ongoing. As president of the Maine Association of Nurse Anesthetists, I would entreat Gov. Mills to consider appointing nurses to move our state forward and help keep our residents safe.

This year has cast a light on the value of the nursing profession as never before. Nurses — particularly Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) — walked resolutely into danger to care for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among one of the nation’s most trusted professions for 19 years running according Gallop, CRNAs continue to serve as frontline soldiers battling this unprecedented public health crisis. Despite shortages of equipment and staff, nurses are innovating and finding the best way to manage the sickest patients. As they often are throughout their careers, during the pandemic nurses are called upon to be a lifeline to patients and families at the worst time of their lives. Too often, they are there to care for and comfort patients at the end of their lives.

Amid heartbreak, personal sacrifice, and health risks to themselves and their families, nurses continue to bring knowledge and perspective to this ongoing pandemic that few others can claim. Nurses know what works and what doesn’t. They’ve been there and done that, and they can offer solutions to the seemingly intractable public health and societal problems America faces.

Listen to them. Hear them. Bring them into the decision-making process. For example, we would be happy to act as a consultant on the Governor’s Economic Recovery Panel to discuss ways we believe health care costs can be decreased in our state. CRNAs provide the majority of anesthesia care in Maine and, importantly for states like Maine, more than 60% of care in rural facilities and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs).


America’s nurses offer invaluable insight and experience in issues throughout the healthcare spectrum, and our governmental institutions need every bit of their expertise.

Nurses practice in every conceivable setting, caring for every patient population, throughout our healthcare system. They are caregivers, decision makers, innovators, educators, researchers, counselors, administrators, and business owners. In fact, our state houses one of the nation’s largest CRNA-owned company, Nurse Anesthesia of Maine, with over 15 years of successful business experience.

Nurses see firsthand the results of racism and inequality, poverty, violence, substance abuse, unequal education, and inadequate mental healthcare. When it comes to tackling these issues, nurses bring intimate knowledge and problem-solving experience, as well as the will and dedication to serve their country and fellow citizens.

I ask Gov. Mills, why not look among the backbone of America’s health care system? Why not choose members of America’s most trusted profession? CRNAs are well aware of the challenges faced by healthcare professionals and administrators to improve patient access to safe, cost effective healthcare. If you are looking for America’s best and brightest to serve at your side, choose a nurse?

Susan DeCarlo-Piccirillo, DNP, CRNA, APRN, is president of the Maine Association of Nurse Anesthetists.

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