Wondering why anyone would choose the CRNA route rather than the MD route?

Specialties CRNA


This thread has me wondering...

Wondering why anyone would choose the CRNA route rather than the MD route? The difference in prerequisite courses is almost non-existent. For the MD route, one has to take qualitative, quantitative, and 2 organic chemistry classes. For nursing, it's generally just one "survey" chem course which combines qualitative & quantitative. That said, some nursing programs require an extra psych class and perhaps a nutrition class. So, the number of prereq courses is close to equal; albeit, organic chemistry is a bit more challenging than psych & nutrition. HOWEVER, nursing has become so competetive that many nurses have GPA'S in the 3.7-4.0 range vs an avg GPA of ~3.5 for acceptance into medical school. It seems anyone capable of carrying a GPA of 3.7+ in a curriculum that includes a basic chem course plus 2 semesters of A&P, micro, etc, could just as easily carry a 3.5 GPA in a curriculum which includes the 4-semester chemistry sequence. Adding impetus, by the time a BSN nurse puts 2 yrs into ICU experience and THEN puts the required time into the CRNA program, the nurse has spent as much time acquiring a CRNA as to get an MD degree (granted, that doesnt include MD residencies or fellowships, but those ARE paid; although, on the low end - but paid, nevertheless). Overall, it makes very little sense to shoot for a CRNA rather than an MD degree. If, for some reason, your (more chem inclusive) GPA wasn't quite up to snuff for an MD, there's always the DO route (DO's hate that, but... LOL). Obviously, you'll have much more control, responsibility, and (for those who are interested) 2-3x the salary as an anesthesiologist vs a CRNA (also, if $ is a motivator, you can make a lot more as an orthopod vs anesthesiologist...just steer clear of family practice and the other lower paying MD/DO positions). The whole thing would be understandable if most nurses were skating into nursing school with under a 3.0 GPA, for example, but with nursing being so competitive now, why not grab the MD (or DO) degree rather than CRNA? Anyway, food for thought for some of the nursing students pursuing a BSN (particularly the younger students who have time for residencies, etc later)...add a few more chem classes to your nursing prereqs and apply to medical school (during your junior yr of a BSN program) - that way, you still have nursing to fall back on if you're not accepted into an MD program (although, you probably WILL be accepted into an MD program with a BSN GPA over 3.5 if it includes a little more chemistry)

This thread has me wondering...

Wondering why anyone would choose the CRNA route rather than the MD route?

1) They don't want to be physicians

2) They don't want to be married to their career or their medical practice.

3) Some people like shift work

4) Many CRNAs work Monday-Friday 7-3 with no weekends, no holidays, and no call.

5) CRNAs do not necessarily have *less* responsibility than an Anesthesiologist.


To clear up: depending on specialty, how one sets up a business or chooses to practice, if you decide to go the MD route, you don't necessarily do a lot of call or even work a lot (barring residency, etc). Examples: one pulmonologist got tired of doing a lot of hospital- & office-based work, so he eventually opened a clinical research center & sees very few pts (he gets some pretty lucrative research contracts from pharmaceutical companies, so he doesn't need to see a lot of pts). Another guy from his former group now works part-time in his own office-based practice (about 15 hrs a week - has a PA there the hrs he's not there) & does call only on his own pts (ie he's not hanging around the hospital drumming up new consults from the hospitalists, so he ends up doing very little call) and he supplements that with several "moon lighting" jobs such as interpreting sleep studies (which take all of 10 mins each - he usually goes in once a week to read 5-10 studies), etcetera. Those are just a few examples. The point is: depending on what avenue(s) one pursues as an MD/DO, it's VERY flexible & one can pretty well work as much or as little as one wishes (and it doesn't necessarily have to be pulling call all night in a hospital) - some of it very lucrative & rewarding in other ways too. Again, basically, food for thought for some of the extremely bright/high GPA nursing students who may not have considered these types of options (which are certainly very viable for these types of good students).

Specializes in icu/er.

well in my case it boils down to time and money. it will only take me around 27-32 months vs. 4 yrs of med school and other 3 or so of residency. i have put myself in a financial position where i can graduate from a 27-30 somthing month crna program with essentially little payback in the long run. if i was doing the med school route i'd be looking at some 200k plus. lord knows i have much respect for anyone who goes through med school and finishes a residency to become a board certified doc, heck i work along side many who i admire and respect. but at age 30 i'm a little late in the game and alittle to cynical for med school.

Specializes in Anesthesia.

1. The pre-reqs for medical school go beyond chemistry. It also includes general physics, calculus, and general biology which all or none maybe required for nursing/CRNA school.

2. It takes a minimum of 7yrs to become a CRNA (average seems to be about 9-10 yrs), and a minimum of 12yrs (there are early acceptance to medical school and some other routes which will allow you to complete it sooner, but 12yrs is for the traditional route which most anesthesiologists will fall under) to become an anesthesiologist.

3. What most people seem to forget is that just because you want to become an anesthesiologist, orthopod etc. doesn't mean you will get selected into one of those residency programs. Those residencies are highly competitive and only the students that did the best in medical school will get selected for those residencies.

4. A pre-med student's GPA maybe a little lower than a nursing student's GPA, but the pre-reqs for medical school are generally much tougher classes than what we take in nursing school. I was premed at one point before switching to nursing, so I have actually taken both sets of classes.

5. People become CRNAs for a variety of reasons, but you will find that we are often in our mid 20's all the way up to mid 40's or older. With the average CRNA student age probably being around late 20's to early 30's which is much older than the average med student. SRNAs are working adults that went back to school which is much different than the traditional med student.

6. Most CRNAs are very happy with the salary they make, and find it is good compromise between work and lifestyle being a CRNA.

7. There isn't anything that is done specifically by an anesthesiologist that can't or isn't done by CRNA somewhere. You can as independent or dependent as you want when you are CRNA. The only thing that really separates the jobs between CRNAs and anesthesiologists is the educational track and the average salary each of us makes.

Other than that it is highly variable why each CRNA chose the track they did.


more importantly, the reason for being a crna is because they were all and still nurses and that has alot to say. if they wanted to go to medical school they would have chosen that profession from the jump unstead of induring nursing school. and what i like the most....having a life.

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