With demand for anesthetists projected to rise by 2025, several schools open Dr.AP programs. Knowledge foundation of this field demands presence in the campus as well as clinical training provided by various institutions. So, you have few chances of landing to a fully online program. If you are a licensed Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) with a masters degree, seriously consider an upgrade now.

What does an anesthetist do?

An anesthetist is a registered nurse who specializes in administering anesthesia safety. With rigorous training and education in anesthesia practice, a nurse anesthetist may give anesthesia to a patient and monitor the patient’s vital signs even without the supervision of an anesthesiologist.

In contrast to anesthesiologists – medical doctors who specialize in anesthesia, anesthetist play a supporting role to anesthesiologists during surgery. In times of great urgency, an anesthetist may assume temporarily the role of anesthesiologists on the best way they can while performing all their duties as a nurse.

What sort of accreditation should I look for in a school?

The Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Program (COA) assesses the quality of education and training of institutions offering DNAP or DrAP degrees in the United States. You may also check if the school is closely affiliated with the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA).

How do I earn my DrAP degree?

If you want to pursue a Dr.A.P. degree, you need to have a master’s degree in anesthesia nursing and pass the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) licensure exam. Both of the requirements mentioned also have their prerequisites. First of all, you need to earn a Bachelors of Science in Nursing. Then, you need to get licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN). After a year of experience as an RN, you may then proceed to enroll in a masters program specializing in anesthesia. The CRNA exam comes after earning your masters.

A typical Dr.A.P. curriculum involves 30 credits of coursework and a capstone project. Most institutions adopt a hybrid educational format both utilizing an academic setting and clinical practice. Here, graduate students learn in week-long classroom lectures and then supplemented by constant online communication with mentors. If pursued on full time, a graduate student may earn a degree within one to two years. However, if a nurse studies on a part-time basis, he or she may finish within two to three years.

After the end of the course, Dr.A.P. graduates are well equipped with the leadership skills required in clinical and educational environments. They are also well-versed in sophisticated hospital technologies and can communicate effectively to patients and medical professionals on anesthesia matters.

In recent years, the title “Doctor of Nursing Anesthesia Practice (DNAP)” is more widely used than “Doctor of Anesthesia Practice” (Dr.A.P.). Those who graduated with a DrAP degree retain the title on their names. The Dr.A.P./DNAP is the highest academic achievement for nurses along with Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). While DNAP and DNP may sound similar, there is a slight difference between the two; the former being focused more on local and general anesthesia treatments.

While technically, DNAP is “doctors”, they are different from anesthesiologists who are Medical Doctors (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). To avoid confusion, DNAP degree holders are formally called “doctors” in an academic or professional setting. However, in a hospital or clinic, DNAP should be called “nurse” instead because patients normally are oblivious of the specific roles and credentials in the medical sphere.

What type of degree do I need to pursue research or educate others in Anesthesia Practice?

If you wish to teach in Anesthesia Practice, there is a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing which a course focused more on teaching and research on the field. Like any other Ph.D. degrees, Ph.D. in Nursing emphasizes on creating new knowledge within the field with the dissertation as the crowning achievement. DrAP/DNAP degree holders are also qualified to teach as long as the work does not conflict with their clinical schedules.

How do I earn a transitional or bridge Dr.A.P degree?

Medical courses demand time and attention from students. Thus, a fully online program might be impossible. Some schools offer 100% online programs but most of them are not accredited by COA. Most institutions adopt a hybrid format wherein a CRNA can continue working while regularly contacting their supervisor for the completion of the capstone project.

What kind of career and salary can I expect with my Dr.A.P degree?

Dr.A.P. degree holders mostly work in a hospital or clinic along with other nurses, doctors, and medical practitioners. Sometimes, anesthetists are deployed to remote communities during medical missions and disasters.

As of 2018, an anesthetist in the US makes between $164,522 and$195,282. The wage varies depending on location and experience. This figure is expected to increase by the year 2025 when DNAP will completely replace Master’s of Science in Nurse Anesthesia (MSNA). By this time, DNAP anesthetists share more of the functions of anesthesiologists.

Do I need a license to be an anesthetist?

Today, a master’s degree is sufficient for an anesthetist to take a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthesia (CRNA) exam. However, as mandated by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA), all aspiring CRNA need to earn a DNAP degree by the year 2025.  These changes were endorsed by the ANAA, aiming to improve the welfare of CRNA. Remember that you also need an RN license to acquire a CRNA license.

What schools offer Doctor of Anesthesia Practice (Dr.AP) degrees?

Considering the number of hospitals across the US, there is a multitude of options to choose from to acquire your Dr.A.P or DNAP degree. The following institutions require full-time study for DNAP – Integrated Anesthesia Associates in Hartford, Connecticut; Mayo Clinic College for Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota; and Excela Health School of Anesthesia & Saint Vincent College in Pennsylvania.

Despite the intensive training demands, some accredited institutions like Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, Texas offers affordable 100% online doctorate programs.

The job of an anesthetist is relieving a patient’s pain and ultimately saving lives. An anesthetist is a key player with an indispensable role in operating rooms, wards, and other emergencies involving pressure or pain. If you want patients to sleep soundly and help them make the pain bearable, becoming an anesthetist is your answer.