Certified registered nurse anesthetists (nurse anesthetists) are the only other anesthesia care providers that merit a direct comparison with anesthesiologist assistants.
There are many similarities between nurse anesthetists and anesthesiologist assistants, but the four main differences are curriculum prerequisites, scope of practice, practice jurisdictions, and governing entities.
First, nurse anesthetist educational programs require specific nursing degree training for admission, while anesthesiologist assistant programs do not specify required undergraduate majors but require some related course work.
Second, anesthesiologist assistants are not allowed to practice in any jurisdiction without the direct supervision of an anesthesiologist, while nurse anesthetists may practice under the supervision of any physician or in collaboration without specific supervision in those states that have chosen to “opt-out” of Medicare reimbursement for such services.
Third, nurse anesthetists practice in every jurisdiction nationwide under a license or its equivalent, while anesthesiologist assistants practice in only 16 jurisdictions, under licensure in 10 of those jurisdictions and under physician delegation in the other 6.
Fourth, nurse anesthetists are always governed by the state’s nursing board, while anesthesiologist assistants are always governed by the state’s medical board.