In the most basic terms, an anesthetist is a nurse and anesthesiologist is a doctor. Both anesthetist and anesthesiologist put patients under anesthesia for surgical requirements but according to medical associations and state laws, there are some specific kinds of surgeries where only anesthesiologists or medical doctors might be needed.
Anesthetists vs. Anesthesiologists
Educational Differences – Anesthetists are nurses who finish a nursing degree and obtain their Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist licensure, lasting for a minimum of 2 to a maximum of 4 years. On top of that, these registered nurses finish a training program of 2 years (requirement is 1 year), pass the certification exam and get certified. Anesthesiologists, on the other hand, are licensed doctors who finish their medical school degree like most other doctors. During their pre-med, they do some amount of undergrad work and later get their medical degrees in the field of anesthesia.
Practice Differences – While the process of putting a patient under anesthesia might be the same for both anesthetists and anesthesiologists, there are practical differences in the professions of both in certain states. In some states, the law requires a medical doctor to be present while the anesthetist administers anesthesia. Anesthesiologists have no such regulations and requirements. This is why it is common for anesthetist nurses to administer anesthesia in clinics and practices where they routinely work while anesthesiologists tend to move between various facilities during their work.
Facility Differences – Anesthetists are most often seen in small clinics, small hospitals and small surgical practices because of cost factors. Anesthesiologists are pretty common in big hospitals and large facilities because there services are needed regularly and these hospitals also deal with various complex cases where an anesthesiologist might be more appropriate.
In terms of safety standards, the records for both anesthetists and anesthesiologists are similar according to various studies. A 2010 article on Boston.com by Elizabeth Cooney noted this which led to about 14 states calling for change or opting out of the law that states anesthetists need to be supervised by a medical doctor while administering anesthesia for the purpose of Medicare coverage. While the care of an anesthetist should rival that of an anesthesiologist, it may be a wise for an anesthetist to be surprised when providing anesthesia for a patient with Aspergers or Autism.