Anesthesiology Graduate Schools: How to Choose

Anesthesiology is the practice of administering anesthesia and monitoring a patient during surgery. Graduate programs in anesthesiology are available at the master's level to individuals who already hold a current, valid license as a registered nurse (R.N.) and have completed a bachelor's degree in nursing.

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How to Select an Anesthesiology Graduate School

Master's degree programs in anesthesiology are available through 4-year colleges and universities.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Program content
  • Time commitments
  • Financial aid
  • Clinical settings and specialty areas

Program Content

While all graduate programs in anesthesiology qualify successful graduates to sit for the national registration examination to become practicing certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), some programs offer small, specific differences in title. A Master of Science in Anesthesiology is almost identical to a Master of Anesthesia Education, except the latter program prepares students for roles of leadership and adult education within the profession. This small difference may affect curriculum structure as well as program length.

Time Commitments

Depending on the specific degree, a graduate program in anesthesiology may take anywhere from 24 -32 months to complete. A basic master's degree in anesthesiology may take less time than a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a concentration in anesthesiology. This is due to varying coursework, typically extended in the MSN program by research and a residency period.

Financial Aid

Student aid may vary greatly from school to school. Some schools offer students monthly stipends up to as much as $300 a month for almost the entire duration of the program. Other schools may provide a grant of several hundred dollars to each student once per year, based on state funding allowances. There are also schools that offer no financial support at all.

Clinical Settings and Specialty Areas

Facilities available within and around the prospective college may also become a factor to graduate students. Some schools offer clinical experience in as many as seven hospitals, while other programs may restrict the student to one or to campus facilities alone. Specialty areas also differ between schools and may include cardiothoracic, gynecologic, head and neck, orthopedics, neurosurgical and trauma.

Anesthesiology Program Overviews

Master's Degree in Anesthesiology

Offered as a Master of Science in Anesthesiology or a Master of Nurse Anesthesia, this degree program prepares students to sit for the national CRNA examination. Coursework includes:

  • Pharmacology
  • Endocrine physiology
  • Renal physiology
  • Anatomy

Programs include extensive clinical practicums or internships. Students learn specialized techniques to be used during cardiovascular, pediatric and neurological surgery. They also learn to operate anesthesia machines, ventilators and monitoring equipment. Students take research courses as well and may be required to complete a thesis.

Master of Science in Nursing in Anesthesiology

A Master of Science in Nursing with a concentration in nursing anesthesia may take as long as 32 months to complete. This is mainly due to the addition of specialized courses, such as the theory of nurse research, advanced health assessment and population health. Like an M.S. in Anesthesiology, nursing programs cover the many different aspects of anesthesiology, including:

  • Pathophysiology
  • Advanced anesthesia principles
  • Anatomy and physiology

Students also participate in clinical practicums or internships to gain hands-on experience.

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