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Oklahoma State Senate

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For Immediate Release: May 1, 2008

Sen. Andrew Rice
Sen. Andrew Rice

Senate Passes Anesthesiologist Assistant Act;
Rice Plan Addresses Healthcare Labor Shortage

A proposal to add more licensed Anesthesiologist Assistants in Oklahoma that passed the State Senate with bipartisan support on Wednesday will help relieve the state’s labor shortage among medical providers, it’s co-author, State Senator Andrew Rice (D-Oklahoma City), said today.

“This is a responsible and prudent policy for Oklahoma,” Rice said. “We have an opportunity to address a problem with our medical labor pool and provide more healthcare services to the people of Oklahoma.”

Rice said 17 other states have a similar law that allows an anesthesiologist assistant to administer anesthetic under the supervision of an anesthesiologist. Because Oklahoma has a shortage of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA), Rice said trained and licensed Anesthesiologist Assistants can help ease the burden of Oklahoma’s workforce gap in health services.

Oklahoma has fewer physicians per capita than any state in the union and Oklahoma currently ranks in the bottom five in the nation in RNs per capita.

“It is a critical priority to protect the health of Oklahoma citizens. As Baby Boomers age and begin to need more healthcare services, our state will be overwhelmed with healthcare needs unless we take proactive steps to address the healthcare practitioner shortage now,” Rice said.

According to the Governor’s Council for Workforce and Economic Development, if current trends continue, by 2012 Oklahoma is expected to have a shortage of more than 3,000 nurses, 600 lab technicians, 400 physical therapists, 300 surgical technologists and nearly 200 occupational therapists.

“We have to start reversing this alarming trend today,” Rice said. “By increasing the number of nurses, therapists, and technicians entering healthcare professions in Oklahoma, we are pursuing the most responsible course toward a stable and healthy quality of life for all Oklahomans.”

For more information contact:
Senator Rice's Office:  (405) 521-5610

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