Anesthesiologist vs. a Nurse Anesthesiologist

Many people that want to take their place in the medical profession often find that they will not be able to become doctors. That said, many are fully qualified to become nurses in a clinical setting. If you are specifically interested in a medical career focusing on anesthesiology, then you may need to consider whether you want to become a licensed anesthesiologist or work as a nurse anesthesiologist instead.

Required Education and Background

If you are interested in becoming a licensed anesthesiologist, you will have to complete four years of undergraduate work. While it is not required, most people planning to enter medical school choose to major in biology, chemistry, or a combination of the two. Depending on the school and degree program plan, you may also be able to complete both medical school and your undergraduate work in six years. Once you complete medical school, you will have to undergo residency training as well as pass state boards and other exams that will certify you as an MD or DO.

In order to practice as a nurse anesthesiologist, you must complete at least four years of undergraduate work in nursing, and then work as a nurse for at least one or two years in ICU or some other critical care unit. From there, you will need to apply to a two to three year masters or doctorate level program with a major in anesthesia nursing. Once you complete your coursework, you will have to pass your state board exams in order to begin working in this profession.

A Comparison of Duties

For the most part, an anesthesiologist works in either outpatient settings or hospitals. This includes dental surgical facilities as well as other specialty practices where patients may be fully sedated for various procedures. Typically, you will administer various kinds of sedation in order to make sure that patients are not in any pain during the procedure. Some of your responsibilities might include:

In most cases, a nurse anesthesiologist will work under the supervision of the anesthesiologist and perform the following tasks:

Salary Differences

While an anesthesiologist makes approximately $350,000 per year, a nurse anesthesiologist will earn $157,000. As may be expected, these rates will vary depending on whether or not you are paid a fixed salary through the facility, or if you choose to do your own billing instead. You will also find that various regions will offer higher pay than others.

Many people interested in a medical career feel that a focus on anesthesiology will offer them the best opportunities. That said, if you are interested in this field, you may want to give some thought to choosing between becoming an anesthesiologist vs. a nurse anesthesiologist. Depending on your skills and desire for autonomy, one profession may be more suitable for you than the other.