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What is the Difference Between a Nurse Anesthetist and an Anesthesiologist?

The terms anesthetist and anesthesiologist are often used interchangeably with many people thinking these two medical professionals are the same and have the same duties and responsibilities. Surprising to many, these are two different professionals. While they both deal with anesthesia and patient care, they’re very different and have different educational requirements. Individuals interested in pursuing careers in anesthesia should know the vital information on both professionals.

Related resource: Top 30 Most Affordable Certified Nurse Anesthetist Programs

What is a Nurse Anesthetist?

A nurse anesthetist is a registered nurse or Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) who has a completed a nurse anesthetist program. They work in a variety of medical settings, including hospitals, doctors’ offices, and outpatient care centers. They assist surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other physicians before, during and after surgical procedures by providing anesthesia to patients. Nurse Anesthetists also provide nursing care to patients and pain management.

An individual interested in becoming a nurse anesthetist must earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in nursing. He or she must also pass the NCLEX-RN exam to obtain licensure as an RN. Prior to enrolling in the nurse anesthetist program, the RN must complete at least one year of clinical experiences as a prerequisite to the program. Upon completion of these requirements, the RN must complete the nurse anesthetist training and pass a certification exam to earn the title of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).

What is an Anesthesiologist?

Becoming an anesthesiologist is a large commitment that requires several years of education. Unlike anesthetists, which are nurses, anesthesiologists are medical doctors. To become an anesthesiologist, the candidate must have both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. The anesthesiologists must earn a medical degree, but it can be to become either a medical doctor (M.D.) or a doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.). This entails about four years to earn a bachelor’s degree and an additional 3 to 4 years of medical school.

The medical student must then pass both a state and national licensing exam to earn a medical degree. Additionally, the aspiring anesthesiologist must complete a residency, which takes at least one year to complete. While completing the residency, the anesthesiologist may focus on a specific specialty, such as obstetrics, pediatrics, critical care or cardiac. When all the training is completed, the anesthesiologist may obtain certification through the American Board of Anesthesiology. Anesthesiologists provide anesthesia to patients in surgical procedures, but they oversee the nurse anesthetist and do not generally provide patient care.

Career Outlook & Wage Potential

Both nurse anesthetists and anesthesiologists are very much in demand, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As the demand for more and better healthcare services increases, so does the need for these medical professionals who are such a necessity in the operating room. Nurse anesthetists are expected to see job growth of 31 percent between 2016 and 2026 while employment of anesthesiologists should see job growth of 15 percent.

As of May 2018, nurse anesthetists earned wages ranging from $110,520 to $194,99 with the average annual wage at $169,450. The average hourly wages for anesthetists was listed as $81.47. Anesthesiologist wages ranged from $133,080 to $400,000 or more with their average yearly wage at $267,020. The hourly wage for anesthesiologists was $128.38. Anesthesiologists are some of the highest-paid professionals in the medical industry.

Choosing a career as a medical professional can be demanding, challenging and yet very rewarding. Those who choose to be part of a surgical team often find their careers entail some very exciting work. An added bonus is that nurse anesthetists and anesthesiologists can both

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