by Raul Zubieta, CRNA, MS
(San Antonio, Texas, USA)
The confusion comes from the fact that physicians spent 4 years in undergraduate school preparing for the highly selective process of admission to medical school. The US is the only country in the world that requires 3-4 years of general studies prior to applying to medical school.
The anesthesia tracks and length of the programs are comparable for CRNA’s, and anesthesiologists. Nursing school is 4 years, and so is medical school. The doctorate program for nurses will be about 3 years, a bachelor to clinical doctorate tract, the same as for the anesthesiology residency.
The only confusion is formed by the anesthesiologist block because they do NOT want any competition for the same services.
There have been many studies attempting to show that CRNA’s preform at a lesser level than anesthesiologists. Not one of them has shown that to be true. On the contrary, anesthesia is delivered AS SAFELY, whether performed solo by either group or, as a team, or supervised.
So far, 16 States that have opted out of the Federal supervision requirement of CRNA’s by physicians of any kind, for anesthesia fee reimbursement.
This brings about the main reason why anesthesiologists are against the maximum preparation of nurses in this field:
In the States that have not relinquished the supervisory rule, anesthesiologists can “supervise” up to 4 cases done by CRNA’s, and legally charge for 50% of each, while actually doing none. That is, getting paid for 2 cases they do not physically sit in. So, the bottom line is not about safety, confusion, or anything else other than the fact they they are threatened by the loss of income.
And that is the dirty little secret the medical community does not want the general public know, and why they are trying to limit the education of CRNA’s!