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Anesthesia Specialists

Topic Overview

Anesthesia specialists are responsible for making informed medical decisions to provide comfort and maintain vital life functions while you are receiving anesthesia and in recovery.

Anesthesia specialists include anesthesiologists and qualified nurse or dental anesthetists.

Anesthesiologist

Anesthesiologists are medical doctors who, after obtaining their medical degrees and completing their internships, complete an additional 3 years of specialized training in an accredited anesthesiology residency program. They are certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology. As medical doctors, they have a wide range of knowledge about medicines, medical care for diseases, how the human body works, and how it responds to the stress of surgery.

Anesthetist

Most anesthetists are nurses who have graduated from an accredited nurse anesthetist program and who have been certified by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). Nurse anesthetists are advanced practice nurses with specialized skills in anesthesia administration. Some nurse anesthetists are supervised by an anesthesiologist or a surgeon, although law and practice may vary by state.

Anesthesiologist assistant

Anesthesiologist assistants (AAs) graduate with a masters-level degree and are certified by the National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants (NCCAA). They have specialized knowledge of anesthesia drugs and techniques. AAs work under the supervision of an anesthesiologist and can administer anesthesia.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
John M. Freedman, MD - Anesthesiology
Last Revised September 4, 2013

Last Revised: September 4, 2013

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