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September 5, 2012

What is the difference between Anesthesiologist Assistants and Nurse Anesthetists?


The difference between an Anesthesiologist Assistant and Nurse Anesthetists is primarily their scope of practice. When it comes to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetist (AANA) vs. the American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants (AAAA) there is politics in motion. Not all CRNAs are Anti-Anesthesiologist Assistants but the vast majority of CRNAs are against Anesthesiologist Assistants being licensed and working in all 50 states (the nurses just don’t want the competition).

Anesthesiologist Assistants work under the direction (supervision and/or medical direction) of a licensed Anesthesiologist in the Anesthesia Care Team. Anesthesiologist Assistants in the U.S. are either licensed or work under delegatory authority at hospitals, such as an academic teaching institution, private practice setting institution, or outpatient service day surgery centers in the Anesthesia Care Team (ACT). 100% of Anesthesiologist Assistants work in the ACT model.

CRNAs may work under the medical direction (and/or supervision) of an Anesthesiologist M.D. or D.O. part of the Anesthesia Care Team, or they may work under the supervision of a surgeon, dentist or independently licensed practitioner legally authorized to deliver anesthesia services delineated in the rules and regulation written in accordance with various state laws. 80% of CRNAS work in the ACT in the same manner as Anesthesiologist Assistants and the other 20% of CRNAs work out of the ACT independently mostly in rural areas of the U.S.

HOWEVER, one-third of all practicing nurse anesthetist have not earn an undergraduate degree. All Anesthesiologist Assistants must have obtained an undergraduate degree with pre-med core curriculum courses which is very “rigorous” and must take either the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) or GRE (Graduate Record Examination Test).

Hospital that have both Anesthesiologist Assistants and CRNAs employed at their institution in the Anesthesia Care Team (ACT), their jobs are identical and both are used interchangeably doing the same exact job. Anesthesiologist Assistants and CRNAs in the ACT stay in the O.R. (suite) with their patients from the beginning of the case to the end of the case anywhere from 30mintues to 8 hours or more depending on the type of surgery that is being performed.

Anesthesiologist Assistants and CRNAs jobs are both amazing and intriguing professions in the Anesthesia Care Team. Nurses (R.N.s) who meet the criteria and prerequisites can also be admitted to an Anesthesiologist Assistant program (anesthetist), there are several nurses who are Anesthesiologist Assistants who chose to take the Anesthesiologist Assistant route vs. CRNA route for different or personal reasons.

FACT: there is a nurse who is an Anesthesiologist Assistant and her title reads R.N., M.M.Sc., A.A.-C., she has thirteen (13) years experience as an Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant – Anesthetist and twenty-three (23) years experience as Registered Nurse.

She is licensed as an R.N.,A.A.-C. (Anesthesiologist Assistant).

*AA School attended – Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA.

*B.S. Nursing (Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing).

*M.M.Sc. Anesthesiology (Master of Medical Science in Anesthesiology).

In closing, both Anesthesiologist Assistants and CRNAs are highly respected as anesthetists in the Allied Health/Nursing as mid-level providers in or out of the Anesthesia Care Team (ACT).

FACT: Anesthesiologist Assistants can train and teach SRNA (student nurse anesthetist) = CRNAs. Anesthesiologist Assistants also train and teach their own AA-S/RN,AA-S (student anesthetist/student nurse anesthetist) = AA-C/RN,AA-C.


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