What role should accreditation Standards play in regulating the CRNA workforce?

None.  The COA does not and cannot consider workforce (i.e., supply and demand for CRNAs) in its accreditation decision-making process. COA activities in this regard would be inconsistent with U.S. Department of Education and Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognition requirements. It would also have antitrust implications.

Instead, the COA requires programs to demonstrate substantial compliance with the Standards, which address program quality assessment and improvement. While the COA does not make accreditation decisions based on the number of CRNA practitioners in the geographic area of a particular program, the Standards do require each program to provide adequate didactic and clinical resources for all students.  Recently, the COA revised this requirement by establishing an approved class size for each nurse anesthesia program preparing students for entry into practice, based on the adequacy of resources (refer to Accreditation Policies and Procedures, “Program Resources and Student Capacity,” P-15).  The COA requires programs to verify that there are adequate resources to support an educational program that meets the Standards and to secure prior approval before increasing the number of students. Approval is required even if the program increases the number by one student.  In addition, programs are required to provide information on student enrollment data annually.