Due to the extensive clinical training required, there are no online programs for anesthesiologists. Medical doctors who choose to specialize in anesthesiology must complete three years of clinical residency in anesthesiology in a hospital after finishing medical school and an internship. As they move through the anesthesiology residency program, doctors increase their skills and responsibilities.
Nurse anesthetists are registered nurses (RNs) with specialized training in anesthesia. The training may be part of a master's degree program, or an RN with a master's degree can enroll in a post-graduate program in nurse anesthesia. Many courses in these programs can be delivered online, but there is an extensive clinical component that must be completed in a healthcare facility. The programs are designed to accommodate a working nurse's schedule, allowing students to view courses online at their own convenience.
It requires 2-3 years to earn a master's degree in nursing with a specialty in nurse anesthesia. Many courses cover general nursing theory, and the clinical practice runs along with specialized courses in nurse anesthesia, giving students the opportunity to practice what they're learning. Students should ensure that any program they're considering meets the standards of the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Programs. Graduates can apply to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists to become a CRNA, which, in addition to training, requires passing a certification exam.
Anesthesiology Residency Programs
After completing four years of post-baccalaureate medical school and a one-year hospital internship, residents may choose to specialize in anesthesiology. On-site clinical training requires three years of residency in a hospital.
Information and Requirements
During the three-year residency, doctors learn how to determine an anesthesia plan, administer anesthesia, and manage postoperative pain. Training is hands-on, involving rotations in hospitals.
Common Training Units
Clinical education in anesthesiology varies by hospital, as do the subspecialties of the attending physicians. In general, residents assist with more and more complex procedures as they advance in their training and skill-level.
First Year Clinical Training
Fundamental practices are introduced through closely supervised training in the operating room, through simulators, and structured rotations. Exposure is given to anesthetic procedures for the various types of surgeries.
Second Year Clinical Training
Advanced procedures for intensive care and critically ill patients are learned through rotations in trauma units.
Third Year Clinical Training
Senior residents assist with complex procedures and practice subspecialties such as pediatric, cardiac, obstetric, and transplant anesthesia. Research may begin in the third year if a resident is a candidate for continued training through a fellowship.
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Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) Programs
A CRNA is trained to provide anesthesia under supervision of an anesthesiologist or other medical doctor. While no accredited program is available fully online because of rigorous clinical training requirements, most graduate programs have some components that can be completed through distance learning. Applicants must be registered nurses with a B.S. in Nursing, possess a minimum of one year of experience in an intensive care unit, and have completed coursework in chemistry, physiology, and statistics.
Information and Requirements
Graduate programs providing CRNA training can be completed in two to four years. Course components, such as exams, lecture notes, and simulated exercises, are often available online. After the first year of basic coursework, clinical instruction requires students to be on-site at least part-time.
The fundamentals of pharmacology, physiology, anatomy, and biophysics are covered in classroom and laboratory settings. Clinical internships in anesthesia provide opportunities to apply the theoretical foundations learned online or in the classroom.
Legal and ethical issues of practice are considered in a historical context in this course. Social and governmental concerns regarding administration and care are discussed.
Theoretical foundations of best practices are reviewed to bring students up-to-date on current nursing knowledge. Students are able to develop a personal nursing philosophy.
Health Care Policy
This course teaches students the ways in which health care policies are affected by society, technology, and economics.
Anesthesiologists may choose careers as research scientists, practice general anesthesiology or become a subspecialists, such as neuroanesthesiologists. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary for anesthesiologists was $258,100 in 2015 (www.bls.gov).
Nurse anesthetists are in high demand. The current shortage of CRNA professionals means 100% employment of program graduates. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median annual salary for registered nurses was $67,490 in 2015 (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Information
Fellowships may be available for anesthesiologists interested in pursuing research careers or continuing practice in a subspecialty upon completion of residency.
Due to heavy hands-on work in each program, anesthesiology residency and CRNA programs cannot be taken fully online, though the CRNA programs and prerequisite master's degree for the residency may have online components to them. Students wishing to specialize after completing their residency can enroll in a fellowship program, which are unlikely to be found online.