Why no CRNA's in Canada

Specialties CRNA


I keep hearing about the CRNA program in the US, but I don't understand why there aren't any CRNA's in Canada. I live in Canada and with the shortage of Anestheologists, I don't understand why Canada isn't screaming for them. I would love to do the CRNA program and, because I'm from Canada, would chose to practice here. I rarely hear the program mentioned here, but when I do its always with regards to the US, and how its such a great program, great pay, great everything. Any suggestions, anybody? I hear lots about NP programs of study and other specialities, but not CRNA. Does it have something to do with us always being 2 steps behind the US, is this something that with time will change, or is it like this for reason? :confused:

Brenna's Dad

394 Posts

Hi Simmone,

I was born and raised in Canada, received my undergraduate training, and practiced nursing there for almost five years, before jumping ship and heading to greener pastures. I have to tell you, I consider this one of the smartest moves I have ever made.

The health care system in Canada is controlled by physician lobby groups who have successfully (in the name of "safe" patient care) persuaded the passing of legislation which gives all the power to physicians and very little to other medical disciplines. It is law, for example, that only physicians can prescribe medications, most medical treatments, etc. Such legislation makes advanced nursing practice almost impossible. Nurse Practitioners, I believe in all provinces, therefore, must practice "under" a physician. Obviously, it would be impossible for a CRNA to practice. A CRNA under Canadian law would not be able to prescribe the anesthetics he or she would be administering to the patient.

Why don't the provincial nursing associations simply lobby the government for expanded advanced practice nursing roles? Especially in a health care climate where cost-effective alternatives to anesthesia, such as the CRNA, would be very appealing? Because the physicians control the individuals who make such decisions , and convince most of the public (the majority of whom are completely ignorant of what a nurse actually does until they or a loved one ends up in an ICU) that this just wouldn't be "safe." A physician controlled model of health care delivery is the only "safe" alternative.

So, as I step off my soapbox, the problem is really simply politics and unfortunately the nursing lobby groups in Canada are extremely weak and pathetic, while the physician lobby groups, backed by pharmaceutical companys and the thick wallets of the physicians themeselves are strong.


6,620 Posts

I have been told that nursing groups don't lobby hard for advanced practice nursing roles because they don't want to be seen as just little doctors, they want to stress what nurses can already do to improve health care. I think that's a load of bs...

I think it's just the fact that most nursing organisations are not concerned with creating a utopia for advanced practice nurses when we are busy trying to survive within the current health care system...CRNAs are, unfortunately, just not a big priority. Can you imagine the amount of work that would go into creating school programs, regulating bodies, etc. for CRNAs? Unless CRNAs or wannabe CRNAs do it, it won't ever be an option.


13 Posts

Brenna's dad,

do you think CRNA's will ever practice in Canada, or have we gone to far down the drain for that? What about if our health care system becomes privatized, what changes would you expect to see then? Any ideas on a possible role of CRNA's in the Canadian health care system? Whould you ever consider coming to Canada to practice if our system were to change. How is practicing in the US different from Canada? How's the pay for a CRNA in the US? Just throwing a lot of things out there to try and get a feel for the way our health care system compares, if any, with the US.




19 Posts

Specializes in Medical/Surgical, Long Term Care.

Brenna's Dad,

Like Simonne, I'm also a Canadian who is very much interested in pursuing the CRNA program... even if it means heading to the states.

I am interested in what got you on your path to being a CRNA (read elsewhere, you got accepted :) - CONGRATS!!!). Where did you do your undergrad? Finishing with a CDN undergrad, was it 'harder' to get into a U.S. program? Did you have to do supplementary courses? Are you considered an international student and paying the int'l fees as well?

Brenna's Dad

394 Posts

Wow, I just reread my post re. physician and nursing lobby groups and what a soapbox I was on that day. Despite that fact that this is pretty much how I feel, I seemed a tad too emotional...

In response to Lady Vee's post, I received my initial nursing education via a diploma program at a local college and then completed an Advanced Diploma in Critical Care from BCIT in Vancouver. As I was nearing completion, BCIT developed a Bachelor program which incorporated the credits I had already received in the above mentioned program, so this seemed like the natural way to go. I finished my Bachelors of Technology in Specialty Nursing with a Critical Care focus last summer, after five or six years of mostly distance learning, and applied to school last January.

Truthfully, I felt that my status as an international student would be a hinderance, but apparently it was not. The interview committee was interested in the Canadian system and my specific education path, but my Canadian education was not viewed negatively. So, I guess it wasn't any harder to get into a US school.

However, the schools themselves remain VERY competetive. The short list for the school I applied to, for example, consisted of 24 individuals . The faculty made it clear several times, that the applicants were ALL, VERY qualified.

I didn't do any supplementary courses, mostly becuase I wanted to have a bit of a break. But, I did think of it as a method of improving my application.

I have just recently received my permanent resident status, so will no longer be considered an inernational student. However, this would not have affected my tution fees, since the school was private and the tuition per credit hour did not differ. The few schools that I did look into were the same. The tution fees did not differ between international and US students.


1 Post

Hi have just recently graduated from the BScN program. i have done a placement in the OR and have taken a position as an OR nurse. i have also noticed the lack of anesthesiologists around... to the point we have many surgeries cancelled. i have looked into the CRNA also, i came across your postings... i thought i'd give a link to something i found a few minutes ago.

it's about a pilot program of anesthesiology teams in Ontario with a list of pilot hospital!!!!! ... http://ogov.newswire.ca/ontario/GPOE/2007/03/17/c3643.html?lmatch=&lang=_e.html

hope you enjoy... it gave me a little excitment


150 Posts

Specializes in NICU, CVICU.

This article says the Anesthesia Assistants' training program is only 22 WEEKS!! Good grief! (maybe they meant months???)

Specializes in Adult SICU; open heart recovery.

Interesting. Instead of allowing CRNAs, the plan calls for creating a role for "nurse practitioner-anesthesia". Hmmm....


268 Posts

CRNAs in the United States make MORE MONEY than what Canadian MDAs make. Even if they allowed CRNAs in Canada, you'd be foolish to go up there to make 70% less than what you would make in the states.

Canadian MDAs only make about 180k. Why go there to earn less money than that? I think a canadian CRNA would only make about 100k.


198 Posts

Specializes in CRNA, ICU,ER,Cathlab, PACU.

strongly consider coming to the USA and training. Many rural hospitals will offer you a J1 Visa position to work in the USA for dual citizenship. Here in Washington there are many practices that are within commuting distances over the boarder into Canada. The other post about Ottowa was interesting Nurse Practitioner-Anesthesia? AAs in Canada? Wow, maybe you should look there?

good luck


275 Posts

No, an AA is not the same thing as a CRNA in the states...its different

For the person who posted that it should be 20 months not 20 weeks this is what i found on the Michener website (an AA program offered in Toronto, Canada)


Anesthesia Assistant: At A Glance Credential(s) Earned Graduate Certificate Program Length Advanced: 14 weeks + minimum of 6 weeks clinical education

Basic: 20 weeks Delivery Method Advanced: part-time, one day per week for 13 weeks plus a 5 day residency

Basic: part-time distributed learning with 5 day residency at end of semester

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