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What is the difference between an assistant anesthesiologist and a fully-trained anesthesiologist?

I am curious about the differences between an assistant anesthesiologist and an anesthesiologist who went to medical school. What are the differences in day-to-day life? How much do you work with others? Do both do shift work? Is it possible to become an assistant anesthesiologist and then pursue a doctorate later in life?
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Anum’s Answer

Hi, so the thing is that the two are completely different entities. So an anesthesiologist is a fully trained 'doctor/physician' who has specialized in the field of anesthesia. Whereas an assistant anesthesiologist takes an 'anesthesiologist assistant training programs' after which he/she is rewarded with a Masters degree as Master of Science in Anesthesia or a Master of Medical Science. After completing his Masters he/she works under the direction of the main anesthesiologist and manages everything during and after the surgery for the required patient care. The assistant anesthesiologists accompany the patient before, during and after anesthesia to ensure quality and continuity of care.

Anesthesiologists are the physicians responsible for administering general or regional anesthesia, which allows surgeons and other physicians to complete invasive procedures with little to no discomfort to the patient. Anesthesiologist assistants are trained to assist in life-saving measures, such as CPR, and advanced cardiac life support. So they both go hand in hand.

As I said, they have to work with the concerned doctor, so they have a lot of interactions with all sorts of people. They work with the patient, the surgeon, the whole team in the operating room, and are the backbone of the whole surgery, before and for a little time after.

As far as shift work is concerned, both have to do that according to the schedules. Most of the times when the main anesthesiologist is on duty, morning, evening or night, so is the assistant. So the day to day life is mostly similar. The duty load is divided so the shifts are not as hard as surgery and medicine doctors who have to deal with the patients first hand.

If the assistant anesthesiologist wants to become an anesthesiologist, he will have to pursue a medical degree first, and then residency in the department of anesthesia, only then can he become an anesthesiologist. As far as the doctorate goes, there is no doctorate for assistant anesthesiologists as for now because in the interest of patient safety and provider transparency, the AAAA (American Association of Assistant Anesthesiologists) does not endorse an entry-level doctoral degree for Anesthesiologist Assistants. Over the past three decades, the master's degree has become firmly established as the singular entry level terminal degree for Anesthesiologist Assistants.

I hope this answers your question .

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Richard’s Answer

To become an anesthesiologist: In the US, to apply to medical school, you need a bachelor's degree. Any 4-year university should suffice.
Pick a major that interests you so you don't mind devoting a majority of your hours to studying. You will need to get good grades in college in order to apply for medical school. At the medical school I attended, the average GPA is reported to be 3.85, so even one or two B's can hurt your chances of acceptance.
Aside from this, any major is acceptable as long as you complete the prerequisite courses.
Typical medical school prerequisites include:
Biology: Lecture – 4 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
General Chemistry: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Organic Chemistry: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Biochemistry: Lecture – 1 semester
General Physics: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Math: Statistics – 1 semester
English: Rhetoric (Composition) and Literature – 2 semesters
During college study for and complete the MCAT. Devote an entire summer to studying for the MCAT and consider paying for a prep course if you can afford it.
Apply to medical schools during your last year of college.
Medical school takes 4 years to complete.
After medical school anesthesiologists complete a 4 year residency for additional training.


To become a CRNA : After high school it takes about 4 years of university to become a registered nurse.
After time spent working as a nurse, including 2 years of critical care, one can apply to CRNA school, which takes an additional 2-3 years.


Both groups work similar hours and take similar amount of call. In some states and in some settings, all CRNAs must be directly or indirectly supervised by a physician.

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Estelle’s Answer

I think you are differentiating between anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists. Anesthesiologists are fully trained doctors that finish medical school then complete an anesthesiology residency. They put people to sleep for surgery, place epidurals for deliveries, perform pain management procedures, and supervise nurse anesthetists. They often supervise intensive care units as well.
Certified nurse anesthetists are nurses that go no to train in anesthesia. They tend to have to less complicated patients and work under the direct supervision of anesthesiologists.
Both are great fields with lots of opportunity.

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