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.
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 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.