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 (21)

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.

Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 49 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.

Armando Soto, MD, FACS
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 103 reviews

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 25 reviews

Anesthesiologist is a physician and anesthetist is a nurse.


An anesthetist has an R.N. degree and went to nursing school and did a usually two-year nursing anesthetist program. An M.D. physician anesthesiologist went to four years of medical school then completed four or five years of residency specializing just in anesthesia. Both anesthetists and anesthesiologists are very well qualified to perform anesthesia. Physician anesthesiologists are able to perform more complicated anesthetics when multiple medical complications present themselves with complex physiology. Nurse anesthetists do a very nice job of taking care of helping patients for routine anesthetics.

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

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

Brooke R. Seckel, MD, FACS
Boston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Anesthesiologist vs Anesthetist


An anesthesiologist is an MD; an anesthetist is an RN. With proper training both are qualified to administer anesthesia in a surgeon's accredited office operating room. Over the past 30 years I have used both.

Make sure the operating rooms are accredited or certified. Here in California we have made this a legal requirement.

Richard W. Fleming, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

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 44 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

Anesthesia safety


There are many highly qualified people who administer anesthesia and both an anesthetist (typically an RN) and an anesthesiologist (an MD) are capable. There are well trained and very competent people in both fields, just as there are people with poor skills in both fields.

In my own practice we use an anesthesiologist for sedation as I prefer having another physician to monitor the patient. In situations where the Surgeon uses an anesthetist, the surgeon would become the supervising physician.

Darrick E. Antell, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Nurse anesthetists are highly trained specialists


Just a quick point of clarification to add: An RN can give sedation under the supervision of an MD, but a nurse anesthetist (CRNA) has years of additional training to specialize in giving anesthesia. They still must work with an MD, usually the surgeon. No differences in safety or other outcomes have been demonstrated between anesthesiologists and CRNA's, though some make an effort to imply that having the MD anesthesiologist is better (I disagree and use a CRNA). BTW, in the British system a physician who does anesthesia may referred to as an anesthetist.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

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.