CRNAs will never reach clinical parity with MDAs until they complete residencies and possibly fellowships. From a health care organization standpoint, pay will reach equilibrium when CRNAs have a broadened scope and equal billing capacities.
However, CRNAs are the cheaper alternative and have a much smaller barrier of entry into the field. I think CRNA is the way to go if you want to get into the anesthesia game in the United States.
The number of MDAs is expected to increase by 19% from 46k (2010) to 54.8k by 2025.
The number of CRNAs is expected to increase by 87% from 44K (2010) to 82k by 2025.
In 2025, there will be an expected 1.5 CRNAs for every MDA, obviously there is tremendous job growth for CRNAs.
This isn't a big deal with the current model and utilization of CRNAs in less complicated higher volume cases such as GI suites and basic ortho surgery. But unless CRNA training becomes significantly more rigorous, MDAs will dominate the anesthesia game in clinical prowess because their training is simply superior.
Even if you control for med school for MDAs and ICU experience for CRNAs, the length of internship, residency, and fellowship (in certain sub specialties) results in nursing schools' ability to simply outpace MDA programs at churning out doctors. This abbreviated training alone should answer your question. If anybody thinks you can condense that level of training into a three year grad school program, or soft doctorate (from what I've heard), they are not being objective.
To be blunt, a doctorate degree is not the same as a residency/fellowship. I think the real solution here for CRNAs is to challenge the anesthesia boards after performing their own structured residency program. I think CRNAs could absolutely successfully challenge the boards if they had a regimented, structured residency like physicians. If they pass the boards, then they can at least objectively demonstrate equal clinical acumen by existing gold training standards.
Best of luck in your program. Regardless of any legislation or cultural changes, you will have a very fulfilling career as a CRNA. I have never met a miserable CRNA, but I have met plenty of miserable anesthesiologists.
Workforce Projection Source: