CRNA vs AA?

  1. What is the real difference between a CRNA and an Anesthesiologist Assistant? Do hospitals prefer to hire one over the other? Which training is more rigorous? Any information on the difference between these two would be greatly appreciated!
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  2. Visit jprn2018 profile page

    About jprn2018

    Joined: Jun '17; Posts: 79; Likes: 18

    9 Comments

  3. by   wtbcrna
    http://www.wana-crna.org/pwdocs/ChartCRNAvsAA2012.pdf.

    http://www.aana.com/newsandjournal/D...214-p25-31.pdf


    The Difference Between CRNAs and AAs | TheCRNA.com - Everything Nurse Anesthesia.

    The biggest differences that you will see is the job opportunities for AAs is extremely limited compared to CRNAs and AAs cannot work without medical direction/supervision of an anesthesiologist. CRNAs can and do work independently and the percentage of CRNAs working independently has grown over the last several years. CRNAs work in every state and US territory.
  4. by   loveanesthesia
    All CRNAs are RNs with patient care experience prior to beginning an anesthesia program. The practice of anesthesia has much in common with the practice of nursing. It's continual patient assessment and adjusting according to the patient responce. Anesthesiologists Assistants do not have a nursing background so do not understand basic content such as medical terminology, physical assessment, patient communication and much, much more. AAs are taught to assist an anesthesiologist while CRNAs are taught to care for a patient. CRNA opportunities are growing as health care finance becomes more important. AAs must practice under medical direction which is becoming less common because the model is more expensive while there is no evidence patient outcomes are improved. Many AAs wish they were CRNAs, but no CRNAs wish they were an AA.
  5. by   Bluebolt
    Very well said.
  6. by   offlabel
    Any non physician anesthetists, whether individually or corporately, one day realize they don't need to have their hand held by a doctor to do anesthesia. CRNA's knew that very early on and AA's are beginning to realize this now. One day there will be such a thing as a "militant AA" as far as anesthesiologists are concerned, if that entity doesn't already exist.

    The difference is that AA's practice at the pleasure of their state's board of medicine and can be dealt a lethal blow over a weekend. CRNA's are credentialed completely independently of any physician organization and as such are free to pursue or not pursue varying degrees of "independence" as they see fit.

    Take away? AA's need to play nice, regardless of the skill and experience they bring to the table. CRNA's don't.
  7. by   manusko
    Quote from offlabel
    Any non physician anesthetists, whether individually or corporately, one day realize they don't need to have their hand held by a doctor to do anesthesia. CRNA's knew that very early on and AA's are beginning to realize this now. One day there will be such a thing as a "militant AA" as far as anesthesiologists are concerned, if that entity doesn't already exist.

    The difference is that AA's practice at the pleasure of their state's board of medicine and can be dealt a lethal blow over a weekend. CRNA's are credentialed completely independently of any physician organization and as such are free to pursue or not pursue varying degrees of "independence" as they see fit.

    Take away? AA's need to play nice, regardless of the skill and experience they bring to the table. CRNA's don't.
    The problem with AAs being militant and wanting to break free is that they can not do this without going back to school and switching professions. They literally cannot practice independent of a anesthesiologist.
  8. by   NovaAEC
    Quote from loveanesthesia
    All CRNAs are RNs with patient care experience prior to beginning an anesthesia program. The practice of anesthesia has much in common with the practice of nursing. It's continual patient assessment and adjusting according to the patient responce. Anesthesiologists Assistants do not have a nursing background so do not understand basic content such as medical terminology, physical assessment, patient communication and much, much more. AAs are taught to assist an anesthesiologist while CRNAs are taught to care for a patient. CRNA opportunities are growing as health care finance becomes more important. AAs must practice under medical direction which is becoming less common because the model is more expensive while there is no evidence patient outcomes are improved. Many AAs wish they were CRNAs, but no CRNAs wish they were an AA.
    Your statements are very misleading to the AA profession.

    1) The practice of anesthesia has much in common with the practice of nursing.

    More in common with nursing compared to what? The practice of anesthesia is not synonymous with nursing.

    2) Anesthesiologists Assistants do not have a nursing background so do not understand basic content such as medical terminology, physical assessment, patient communication and much, much more.

    This statement makes it seem like AA's don't obtain any training or education in medicine. We both know this isn't true. Patient communication? Are nurses the only group of people who know how to have a conversation with others? AA programs require 2 years of education in science courses (pre-med) many of which take medial terminology as a prerequisite. Physical assessment is also learned in AA programs and again taught in CRNA programs.

    3) AAs are taught to assist an anesthesiologist while CRNAs are taught to care for a patient.

    Assistant is a little misleading when it comes to what AA's do in the OR. In fact, CRNA's and AA's do the exact same thing. Nurses just tend to use whatever ammo they can find to put down another profession that has the same goal they do. To care for the patient while they are in their hands.


    The nursing board has been outstanding when it comes to supporting nurses (including CRNA's). That is not up to debate. However, when you have posts like this where you purposefully put down a profession with false anecdotes of experience or abilities -- you lose credibility.
  9. by   wtbcrna
    Quote from NovaAEC
    Your statements are very misleading to the AA profession.

    1) The practice of anesthesia has much in common with the practice of nursing.

    More in common with nursing compared to what? The practice of anesthesia is not synonymous with nursing.

    2) Anesthesiologists Assistants do not have a nursing background so do not understand basic content such as medical terminology, physical assessment, patient communication and much, much more.

    This statement makes it seem like AA's don't obtain any training or education in medicine. We both know this isn't true. Patient communication? Are nurses the only group of people who know how to have a conversation with others? AA programs require 2 years of education in science courses (pre-med) many of which take medial terminology as a prerequisite. Physical assessment is also learned in AA programs and again taught in CRNA programs.

    3) AAs are taught to assist an anesthesiologist while CRNAs are taught to care for a patient.

    Assistant is a little misleading when it comes to what AA's do in the OR. In fact, CRNA's and AA's do the exact same thing. Nurses just tend to use whatever ammo they can find to put down another profession that has the same goal they do. To care for the patient while they are in their hands.


    The nursing board has been outstanding when it comes to supporting nurses (including CRNA's). That is not up to debate. However, when you have posts like this where you purposefully put down a profession with false anecdotes of experience or abilities -- you lose credibility.
    The only time AAs and CRNAs are interchangeable is when they both work in restrictive ACT environments.

    When you can find one study comparing outcomes of independent AAs giving comparable care to independent CRNAs or anesthesiologists then you will have valid argument about AAs until then you need to go a forum that is for AAs not CRNAs.
    Last edit by wtbcrna on Jan 31
  10. by   loveanesthesia
    Quote from NovaAEC
    Your statements are very misleading to the AA profession.

    1) The practice of anesthesia has much in common with the practice of nursing.

    More in common with nursing compared to what? The practice of anesthesia is not synonymous with nursing.

    Nursing has more in common with the practice of anesthesia compared to any other profession. Nurses monitor patient responses and adjust their care based on patient responses on a minute to minute basis. Anesthesia providers also do this. Who else does?

    2) Anesthesiologists Assistants do not have a nursing background so do not understand basic content such as medical terminology, physical assessment, patient communication and much, much more.

    This statement makes it seem like AA's don't obtain any training or education in medicine. We both know this isn't true. Patient communication? Are nurses the only group of people who know how to have a conversation with others? AA programs require 2 years of education in science courses (pre-med) many of which take medial terminology as a prerequisite. Physical assessment is also learned in AA programs and again taught in CRNA programs.

    Yes, but every SRNA from day one already has a basis in this prior to beginning their anesthesia program. The SRNA then spends 3 years advancing their knowledge in the practice of anesthesia.

    3) AAs are taught to assist an anesthesiologist while CRNAs are taught to care for a patient.

    Assistant is a little misleading when it comes to what AA's do in the OR. In fact, CRNA's and AA's do the exact same thing. Nurses just tend to use whatever ammo they can find to put down another profession that has the same goal they do. To care for the patient while they are in their hands.

    Some CRNAs in some settings may function as AAs, but that does not mean AAs are the same as CRNAs. Every CRNA has the capability to function without medical direction. Every AA must practice with medical direction.

    The nursing board has been outstanding when it comes to supporting nurses (including CRNA's). That is not up to debate. However, when you have posts like this where you purposefully put down a profession with false anecdotes of experience or abilities -- you lose credibility.
    It's important to understand that CRNAs are proud of our capabilities and history. You may feel that my demonstration of the differences between a CRNA and an AA is a 'put down', but I'm just stating facts.
  11. by   Bluebolt
    Quote from NovaAEC
    Your statements are very misleading to the AA profession.

    1) The practice of anesthesia has much in common with the practice of nursing.

    More in common with nursing compared to what? The practice of anesthesia is not synonymous with nursing.

    2) Anesthesiologists Assistants do not have a nursing background so do not understand basic content such as medical terminology, physical assessment, patient communication and much, much more.

    This statement makes it seem like AA's don't obtain any training or education in medicine. We both know this isn't true. Patient communication? Are nurses the only group of people who know how to have a conversation with others? AA programs require 2 years of education in science courses (pre-med) many of which take medial terminology as a prerequisite. Physical assessment is also learned in AA programs and again taught in CRNA programs.

    3) AAs are taught to assist an anesthesiologist while CRNAs are taught to care for a patient.

    Assistant is a little misleading when it comes to what AA's do in the OR. In fact, CRNA's and AA's do the exact same thing. Nurses just tend to use whatever ammo they can find to put down another profession that has the same goal they do. To care for the patient while they are in their hands.


    The nursing board has been outstanding when it comes to supporting nurses (including CRNA's). That is not up to debate. However, when you have posts like this where you purposefully put down a profession with false anecdotes of experience or abilities -- you lose credibility.
    I'm really not sure where AA's get this confusion that we are the same. Perhaps because you are only allowed to work in a strict medically directed ACT practice you only see anesthesia from within your small snowglobe of direction. Out of the 15 sites, we rotate through during our 3-year doctorate only one site is medically directed and that is because it's a huge well known teaching hospital. CRNAs are not taught to work under medical direction, it's something we would have to adapt to if we took a job in an environment an AA practices within. During rotations it's essentially learning to work at 50% of your capability because there are so many hands involved in your case.

    CRNAs are not trained or educated to practice like AAs, they are trained and educated to practice like MDAs. This is why they are successfully running their own practices and working collaboratively with MDAs doing QZ billing. You'll find that is the heart of the matter and where you seem to get confused.

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