Nurse anesthetists aren't the same as...

Nurse anesthetists aren't the same as anesthesiologists

There are 144 comments on the The Baltimore Sun story from Sep 21, 2010, titled Nurse anesthetists aren't the same as anesthesiologists. In it, The Baltimore Sun reports that:

Catherine Gilliss's primary point in her op-ed is that nurse anesthetists are a less expensive alternative to physician anesthesiologists in providing anesthesia.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at The Baltimore Sun.


Austin, TX

#86 Feb 19, 2013
To become a CRNA you have to have a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing and 2-4 years of experience as a Critical Care Nurse. You must have completed pre-rec courses such as 8 hours of General Chemistry, 8 hours of Organic Chemistry, 8 hours of Anatomy/Physiology, 3 hours of Bio-Chemistry with at GPA over 3.0 just to be consider for the program, which by the way is at minimum a Master's Degree with hundreds of hours spent in the OR. You people need to do some research before spouting off about thing you don't know.

Vancouver, Canada

#87 Feb 19, 2013
Nic - I agree a lot of people do not know the details regarding what it takes to be a CRNA.
That being said, the title of this blog stands true - CRNAs are not the same as specialist medical doctor anesthesiologists.
I agree and I think most people agree that it takes a long time to become a CRNA. It also takes a long time to become a detective, or a professor of anthropology. That doesn't mean that these roles are equivalent.
Its not just the number of years, its the intensity of the program, the scope of the program, the competitiveness and the pool from which the applicants come from.
Medical doctors (whether you warranted or not) are very esteemed in our society and the profession of medicine attracts the very best and brightest people. Even among these over achievers only a select few make it through.
Nursing is also very important and very well respected profession but it does not draw the same level of intellect. How many Harvard and Princeton students dream of becoming nurses? How many dream to become doctors? And before you give me a case example, yes I realize there are a few ivy graduates who go into nursing but its not usually seen as a big leap forward.
Another question -
How many of the top 10 medical schools in the United States even offer CRNA programs?
1.) Harvard 2.) Hopkins 3.) U Penn 4.) Stanford ....
Are CRNA programs being offered at the same quality of institution?(This is a serious question, I do not know the answer)
CRNA is an extremely respectable and important profession and is a great way for nurses that want to extend their knowledge and really test their ability - its certainly not for everyone and it is great that nurses are taking on new and challenging roles (in a variety of fields). I am in no way trying to bash your profession but it is important to realize that its just different, not worse, just different.
And - saying that it is a "Masters" degree means nothing - my sister has a law degree which is a "doctorate" it doesn't make her a doctor (even though she jokes around about beating me to this title). A chiropractor has a "doctorate" so what? Next thing you know you'll be able to get your doctorate in baby sitting - its just a name and a title that means diddly squat.
Again - CRNAs are very intelligent, very useful and highly trained individuals but they are by no means doctors. Same goes for emerg nurses, ICU nurses - they are excellent at what they do, but what they do is not the same as what doctors do.
I think having the opinion that these two fields are equal is evidence of lack of evidence and insight into what doctors actually do. I would imagine that the most intelligent and proficient CRNAs recognize their roles, limitations and function in the well oiled machine of providing world class healthcare!

Washington Court House, OH

#88 Feb 19, 2013
Nat you obviously do not know a thing about anesthesia, the intellect that is lacking is noy on the nursing side.

Vancouver, Canada

#89 Feb 19, 2013
Why is it obvious that I don't know a thing about anesthesia?

Rather than throw around blind insults or one liners about a few of the procedures that you were taught how to do why not provide us with some insightful comments/responses to the numerous solid arguments and examples that have been provided in the last few pages of posts?

I did not insult your status or your profession did I? No, I stated that it is very important, and very credible.

What kind of relationship do you have with your supervising anesthesiologist? Do you show him the same kind of respect that you have shown to some of the anesthesiologist or aspiring anesthesiologists on this blog?(or are you a lone cowboy in rural nowhere?)

Washington Court House, OH

#90 Feb 20, 2013
You have not made any cogent arguements, just the usual hash of half gueses. How many medical scools offer nurse anesthrsia programs? Irrelevent as they would be offered through a school of nursing, however the cleveland clinic does indeed train CRAA's.
Masters as unimportent, everyone has one of those, and doctorate same thing.
The fact that I trained next to physicians for nearly 2 years doing the same cases, same procedres means that I am very much aware of their role and training, I do not lack insight.
The assertion that nurses are doing something new, nurses were the first specialists in anesthesia and have been doing it for over 100 years.
Multiple studies have shown no difference in outcome, nor has medical supervision shown any difference.
Given this avalanche of evidence against the adolecent "doctors are way smarter, better looking and just such a better class of people" argument you advance, one could see how I draw my conclusion.

Vancouver, Canada

#91 Feb 20, 2013
You continue to misinterpret. I never said worse/better just different.

Teams need a variety of positions. Teams need to work together.

Just because healthcare has taken a team approach it doesn't mean their is no hierarchy or order.

Everyone from the sub sub specialist, to the GP, to the CRNA to RN to the Porter have a role and are important. Its not about one being "better' or "superior". There is a spectrum of training, and responsibility.

Washington Court House, OH

#92 Feb 20, 2013
No, I just debunked what you said and now you are saying somthing else. The thrust of your posts is the superiority of md anesthesia supported by an appeal to tradition and or authority. I addressed the education and ubderstanding of roles, I pointed out your thought over roles was unfounred.
Nowhere do you say teamwork, now if you would like to discuss teamwork in medicine or between crnas and mds that would be a new topic, not the one we are discussing now.

Vancouver, Canada

#93 Feb 21, 2013
oh man you would get eaten alive at a major tertiary hospital. Try getting a job at Clev Clinic, HMC, Mass Gen with an attitude of "Im just as good as an anesthesiologist, anything he can do I can do better"

You would get torn apart faster than the cocky medical student who tries to boss around an experienced scrub nurse!

Washington Court House, OH

#94 Feb 21, 2013
Really? Why do I work at one then? I have worked solo, care team all crna, done OB only , hearts , trauma outpatient surgery. The only thing I have not done is transplant. I have never walked around saying I am better, that is not the point. The point was the general ability of both providers. One is not always superior to the other as you have asserted. Now your qualifications to judge were what again?

Saint Louis, MO

#95 Mar 1, 2013
Can u be a crna and bridge over to a physician cuz I know crna have there master can they go n get there dr's or no

Louisville, KY

#96 Mar 1, 2013
no, you can get a clinical doctorate but you cannot become a physician.

Vancouver, Canada

#97 Mar 2, 2013
It would be very unlikely but it is not impossible. You could apply to medical school if you have done all of the pre-reqs way back and re-wrote your MCAT (must be up to date) and then get your MD get into an anesthesia residency and become an anesthesiologist but that would take you a minimum of 8 more years and would be pretty silly and financially a terrible idea.

It is however not uncommon for nurses, physical therapists etc. to acquire pre-reqs(if they don't already have them), apply medical school and eventually become physicians but not likely after you have gone as far as becoming a CRNA.

Vancouver, Canada

#98 Mar 2, 2013
On that topic, I found that those with practical experience and medical background were among the best medical students in our class. Some of them struggled a little bit with the first two years which have a lot of basic science but once on the wards they were superstars. Same goes for Pharmacists, there were lots of pharmacists in my medical class who were very smart!

West Mifflin, PA

#99 Mar 26, 2013
The best outcome in anesthesia will always come from an anesthesiologist: nurses can work as carefully managed extenders, but the thought of any nurse-crna administering any anesthetic is anathema to safe medical practice.

Newport, KY

#100 Mar 28, 2013
harold you have no idea what you are talking about.

West Mifflin, PA

#101 Mar 29, 2013
Yep, please put your common sense on hold nd agree thta a nurse (CRNA) is in any way, shape or form, as "safe" as an an anesthesologist (a physician)..when CRNA graduate from med school, my opinion might change...I have physicians and nurses (OMG-a few CRNA) in my famly..I'm 58 and won't fight the CRNA "me too, by golly, I'm just as safe as an anesthesiologist (with much more training)"...I hope that the public refuses any and all "anesthesia"from nurses, which CRNA are not qulified to provide..hey stanley..I was a NP before med school and the lack of what I knew a a nurse vs what I learned as a pysician gave me nightmares

La Crosse, FL

#102 Apr 5, 2013
Anesthetists are the main means of forcing patients to see a cardiologist or other doctors in creating monies for their profession. Abnormal EKG from a patient having a open heart (triple by pass) surgery 10 in the past is enough to warrant an expensive run up by a cardiologist while cancelling other medical tests for the operation. This will cause the test to have to be retaken if the operation moves forward. Its racket and the insurance and medicare are the victims which increase costs.

Vancouver, Canada

#103 Apr 6, 2013
The most dangerous people in medicine are those that don't know what they don't know.

Nurses that recognize their limitations are able to safely practice as CRNAs but those that think they have the same amount of knowledge and experience are downright dangerous!

Physicians are trained to think broadly, diagnose and treat. They are also trained to take control of situations and give appropriate orders.

Nurses are trained to think critically, but primarily to follow the direction of a physician. When shit hits the fan in the OR a physician anesthesiolgist needs to take control of the situation, think broadly and act.

A nurse who simply follows a formulary can get into deep sh## quickly. Knowing when to call for help is the key to the CRNA profession continuing to function.

Stanley, if you were to go to medical school and complete an anesthesiology residency I think you would gain a lot of insight into the many things that you do not know as a CRNA. It will likely scare you when you learn how big the gap in knowledge is. It is understandable that CRNAs think that they are the same as anethesiolgists because they simply don't even have enough knowledge to know what they don't know.

La Crosse, FL

#104 Apr 9, 2013
Try the foreign out island medical school for a diploma in the mill of doctors licensed and cranked out for the USA and other countries and become a Anesthetist. Its cheaper then the cost of training a nurse in the USA.

Vancouver, Canada

#105 Apr 10, 2013
the foreign trained docs that went abroad because they couldn't cut it in the traditional system are just as dangerous as CRNAs. Wannabe doctors are scary no matter what letters are behind their names. Patients (and insurers) should remunerate based on the legitimacy of credentials. Does it matter if you got your medical degree from Harvard or University of Washington or even University of Michigan?? no not really - but if you were desperate enough to go to the Caribbean or Ireland then I sure as heck wouldn't want you doing anything with any risk to me.

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