Difference Between Anesthetist and Anesthesiologist?

Is there a difference between an anesthetist and an anesthesiologist? Is it safe to have a face lift, or neck lift under anethesia that was administered by an anesthetist, in a plastic surgeon's office facility? That is, they have operating rooms and say it has some qualifying certification.

Doctor Answers 23

An Anesthesiologist is a doctor and an Anesthetist is a nurse

This is a significant difference you have touched upon! Such an important difference, in fact, that the AAAASF (the most demanding of all accreditation agencies for a plastic surgeon's OR) requires that you have an MD Anesthesiologist. The doctor clearly has a higher level of training and responsibility and this is a saftey issue for the patients in sorting out who to go to for your surgery.

Anesthetist vs Anesthesiologist

Very different.

Anesthetist is usually a nurse with extra training in the field of anesthesiologist and has the ability to administer anesthesia. In most surgery centers and hospital settings they work under the supervision of a board certified Anesthesiologist.

Anesthesiologist is a physician who has gone through medical school, internship and then an accredited residency training program in a US hospital.

A board certified anesthesiologist is certainly more qualified than an anesthetist.

In terms of getting anesthesia from a nurse anesthetist in a plastic surgeon's office. It can be very safe for a healthy inidividual. However, in case of a serious anesthesia related complication arising during the procedure, you are more likely to do well with a good board certified anesthesiologist working in a surgery center or a hospital with other anesthesiologist present at the premises.


Tanveer Janjua, MD
Bedminster Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Qualified anesthesia provider

I have worked with some good nurse anesthetists and some bad ones. I am not qualified to provide anesthesia and thus I do not supervise nurse anesthetists. There is a move nationally to allow nurse anesthetists to provide anesthesia without physician supervision. I think this is most unwise and potentially dangerous. I demand an anesthesiologist (physician) for all my cases--either that they do the procedure themselves or that they are supervising the nurse anesthetist.

Personally, I would want the anesthesiologist.

Tracy E. McCall, MD
Milwaukee Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Yes! Difference Between Anesthetist & Anesthesiologist


An Anesthesiologist is a MD (Medical Doctor) who has years of training in anesthesiology (medical school, internship and accredited residency training program AAAASF).

An Anesthetist is a nurse who has some experience in the field before returning to a 2 year anesthesia training program.

While an Anesthetist can be very qualified in administering anesthesia, I suggest making sure you are under the supervised care of a board certified anesthesiologist.

If you have any underlying medical condition, I strongly recommend you seek an Anesthesiologist who would be prepared for any emergency, should something occur during your surgery.

Wishing you the best of luck,

Dr. Franco-Webb

Cecilia Franco-Webb, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Nurse Anesthetist vs MD Anesthesiologist - I want m patients to have an MD Anesthesiolost at their bedside for the duration of t

There are many capable nurse anesthetists who work in a hospital environment under the direct supervision of board certified anesthesiologists. However,  it is critical that nurse anesthetists are always supervised by a board anesthesoligist. Sometimes, in private surgical suites, Nurses provide anesthesia. 

 In my practice I do for my patients what I would want to be done for me or my family members if they were the patient. We don’t cut corners just because we’re not related to you. So I use experienced, board-certified anesthesiologists (MDs) for the anesthesia care of my patients.

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 70 reviews

An Anesthesiologist has an MD; an Anesthetist is a nurse

Hi there-

The primary difference is the education and training involved. An anesthesiologist is a doctor who has completed years of training in anesthesiology. An anesthetist is a nurse, who after a few years of experience, returned to anesthesia school for 2 years of anesthesia training.

While, being doctors, anesthesiologists are able to practice as independent professionals, anesthetists are only able to administer anesthesia under the supervision of a physician. This supervising physician can be ANY kind of physician, though.

In my practice, because I am a plastic surgeon and my knowledge of anesthesia is therefore limited, and because most of my procedures are done in my in-office and accredited surgical suite, I am not comfortable supervising and being responsible for the anesthesia care provided by a nurse anesthetist. I therefore believe in maximizing my patient's safety by only having anesthesia administered by a board certified anesthesiologist. This might be different if I did surgery in a hospital setting, where a lot of other help was available if needed, but if there is only going to be one person with knowledge of anesthesia available, I would want it to be a doctor of anesthesia.

Anesthetist is a nurse; anesthesiologist a doctor. Be cautious about general anesthesia in office

Nurse anesthetists typically work under the supervision of an anesthesiologist (MD) in a hospital.

The problem with general anesthesia outside of a hospital operating room is the lack of emergency support when something goes wrong (e.g. Michael Jackson).

Although nurse anesthetists typically give anesthesia throughout the case, the MD anesthesiologist is always present during induction and emergence, the two critical phases of general anesthesia.

The limitations of office surgey are many, but most importantly are the lack of adequate back up during an emergency. If I were to consider general anesthesia in any but a hospital OR, I would insist on an Anesthesiologist present. The only reason to substitute an anesthetist is cost and when it comes to your life, cost should not be a consideration

Anesthesiologist vs anesthetist?

This is a difficult question to answer and is hotly debated and not dissimilar to similar questions such as opthalmologist vs optometrist, or podiatrist vs orthopedic surgeon.

As already stated an anesthetist usually refers to a nurse (RN or CRNA) whereas an anesthesiologist refers to a phsician (MD or DO).

Generally physicians can be independent practitioners whereas Nurse anesthetists in most states must work in relation/association with a physican. Physicians also generally carry a higher level of liability (not always true). You draw your own conclusions. Each situation is unique and it is important that you are informed of your options. The choice you make may vary according to circumstances. Whether you choose a physician who has 20 years experience in comparison to a nurse who has 1 years experience (after certification) may change when the opposite situation is presented (nurse anesthetist with 20 years experience and physician with 1 years experience.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 60 reviews

Anesthesiologist for office surgery.


In our New York City ACCREDITED office surgical suite, we think it is safest to have anesthesia by board certified anesthesiologists. These are medical doctors who did a residency in anesthesia, and then passed rigorous testing.

Some anesthetists are good, but they are not doctors, and have not had nearly as much training.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Anesthestist Vs. Anesthesiologist

When cosmetic surgery is performed in an outpatient surgery center safety has to be everyone’s first priority. For this reason, we only utilize physician anesthesiologist in our outpatient surgery center.
There are significant differences in the training, responsibilities, and experience of anesthesiologist and anesthetists. An anesthesiologist is a physician who has specialized in the practice of anesthesia. In most cases this involves completion of at least four years of additional training in this area of specialization. This additional training prepares anesthesiologists to handle almost any situation that may arise during and after surgical procedures. In addition, these practioners are able to practice independently.
In contrast, anesthetists are nurses who have undergone an additional two years of training in anesthesia. Nurse anesthetist can’t practice independently of a physician. In most cases, they’re supervised by an anesthesiologist in a hospital setting.
Unfortunately, nurse anesthetists are often used in outpatient cosmetic surgery centers in an effort to contain costs. Under these circumstances, the supervising physician is the plastic surgeon, who in all probability, knows less about anesthesia then the nurse anesthetist.
In the vast majority of cases, this will probably result in a safe anesthetic experience. In rare cases where anesthetic complications occur, the plastic surgeon is the supervising physician rather than an anesthesiologist. For this reason we feel that the safest approach always involves utilization of a physician anesthesiologist when surgery is performed in an outpatient surgery center.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.