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FAQs

Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant Program Admissions Process

How can I get information about the MSA Program?

  • Cleveland phone line: 216 844-8077
  • Houston phone line: 713-574-9491
  • DC phone line: 202-758-2502
  • E-mail: info@anesthesiaprogram.com

Is there a preferred major of undergraduate study?

There is no one major that is considered "better." A major with more rigorous science coursework may make a student feel more prepared for the MSA Program curriculum.

What criteria are used to evaluate applicants?

Academic credentials cannot be assessed without the context of a complete application. The admissions committee evaluates each applicant’s academic success (GPA, coursework, MCAT), letters of recommendations, meaningful life experiences, leadership, clinical experiences, research, and demonstrated commitment to healthcare. All of those pieces of information factor into decisions to interview and/or accept.

Must all prerequisite courses be completed at the time of application (October 1)?

No, however all course prerequisites must be completed prior to the start of the program of study (last week of May). Verification of anticipated undergraduate sequence of study for the senior year must be presented to the Admissions Committee during the interview process.

What is the schedule and procedure for the application process?

Please be sure to review our application process carefully. Take special note of our timeline below, which could jeopardize your application if not followed. Any changes in your status or information (address, email, phone number, etc.) should be reported to the MSA Program.

  • April 1: Earliest application submission date that we recommend.
  • October 1: Latest application submission date, and deadline for Program receipt of all supplementary materials. It is to your advantage to complete your application early and not to wait until the deadline to submit.
  • April-December: Admissions reviews verified and complete applications. Qualified applicants are invited to schedule an interview at Case Western Reserve University.
  • September-February: Interviewing season. The Admissions Committee makes offers on a rolling basis, with final admission decisions being made in early March.
  • March-April: The MSA Program may accept students placed on the alternate list.
  • End of May: Classes begin the day after Memorial Day.

How long after I submit my CASAA application will I receive word about my status in the Program?

The Admissions Committee will review your application and decide whether to invite you for an interview once your CASAA application has been verified, all your letters of recommendation have been submitted, and your supplementary materials have been received by our Program. It is important to note that it can take up to 4 weeks to verify your application. We strongly recommend that you plan ahead and apply early! After your application has been reviewed, we will send you an email with an update on your status.

May I take another standardized test in place of the MCAT?

No. The MSA Admissions Committee will only accept the MCAT.

What is the latest MCAT score considered for this year?

MCAT scores are valid for three years. 2013 is the last year considered for applicants applying in 2016 for matriculation in 2017.

When should I take the MCAT?

When you feel most prepared. All students learn differently, and therefore we encourage students to prepare for the MCAT in the way that suits them best. Some students prefer self-study while others take prep courses. We endorse only the method that works best for you.

Am I at a disadvantage if I take (or retake) the MCAT after the application deadline?

Potentially. Since the Admissions Committee makes offers on a rolling basis, it is helpful to complete your application (including sending letters of recommendation) while you are waiting for your MCAT scores, so as not to delay your application’s review too much.

Will you accept both versions of the MCAT?

Yes, for the 2016-2017 application cycle, we will be accepting the old and new version of the MCAT.

Are laboratory courses considered prerequisites for the MSA Program?

Laboratory courses are considered prerequisites. Most prerequisite courses have laboratory components that enhance and reinforce students’ knowledge of the scientific topic, and may be helpful in preparing for the MCAT. Many schools require laboratory work to complete the requirements in a specific major.

Does the MSA Program accept AP credits for prerequisite requirements?

Yes, our Program will accept AP exam credit for prerequisite courses if you received a score of 4 or 5 on the AP exam, and a grade of B- or higher in your high school AP class. If your score is acceptable, the program will need a paper copy of your AP score report from College Board and your high school transcript. Our Program is not able to receive AP score reports that are sent electronically to the University. If you scored 3 or lower on the AP exam, you will need to take the course at an accredited American or Canadian college or university.

How many students are accepted annually?

22 to the Cleveland program, 25 to the Houston program, and 23-25 to the Washington D.C. program.

Does the MSA Program give preference to Ohio residents?

No. We have a national application pool and do not have an in-state admissions quota.

When does the program start?

The program starts in the last week of May, the day after Memorial Day.

Does the MSA Program accept transfer students?

As providers of certified anesthesiologist assistant profession training, the program's primary responsibility is to offer such training to any person who meets the admission requirements. However, program format and enrollment constraints usually do not permit acceptance of transfer students.

Can I apply if I received a C in one of the prerequisite courses?

  • Yes. You may retake the course and earn a grade of B- or above. We’ll use the higher grade to calculate your science GPA.
  • Applicants may take prerequisite courses after the application deadline (see details below).
  • For the strongest application, prerequisite courses in which C grades were received should be retaken. A grade of B- or above is required in all prerequisites. You can apply with a C, however your application will be considered after those applications that meet the admission criteria.

Is a B- average in prerequisite courses O.K.? For instance, I received a C in organic chemistry I and an A in organic chemistry II.

No. A final grade of B- or above is required in every prerequisite course; if labs are graded separately they must be completed with grades of B- or above as well.

Do my undergraduate classes fulfill prerequisites for the CWRU MSA Program?

  • Visit our Requirements and Academic Criteria page for descriptions of appropriate prerequisite courses.
  • Applicants are encouraged to discuss the admission criteria with an academic advisor at their college or university to determine the appropriate course(s).
  • Rules of thumb: They must be four-year college level courses and must be for science majors (with the exception of English, calculus and statistics)
  • No survey, introductory or remedial courses will be accepted. No courses specific to a particular discipline (such as engineering or nursing) will be accepted.
  • For additional information or questions, email: info@anesthesiaprogram.com

Can I take prerequisite courses at a community college?

  • Yes, however be sure to confirm that the courses you plan to take are at a four-year college level, are for science majors and are what pre-medical students (i.e. biology or chemistry students) would take.
  • NOTE: biochemistry and advanced statistics are typically not offered at an appropriate level at community colleges.
  • One semester of a combined course in human anatomy and physiology with lab, completed with a B- or above, will fulfill both anatomy and physiology prerequisites. These are the only two prerequisites that may be fulfilled by a combined course.
  • No survey, introductory or remedial courses will be accepted. No courses specific to a particular discipline (such as engineering or nursing) will be accepted.

I graduated more than 5 years ago, does my coursework still count?

  • There is a five-year time limit for all prerequisite coursework.
  • The five-year time limit only can be waived for seven (7) of the prerequisites if you score 500 or above on the MCAT. A high score on the MCAT indicates that your knowledge of the coursework is still current, and we do not ask that you retake your older coursework.
  • An MCAT score of 500 or above does NOT waive prerequisite courses – it merely waives the five-year time limit. All prerequisite courses must be completed regardless of MCAT score.
  • Biochemistry, human anatomy with lab and human physiology must be taken within five years of the application deadline, regardless of MCAT score.
  • All prerequisites must be completed with grades of B- or above, regardless of MCAT score.

Does the CWRU MSA Program give credit for previous clinical experience?

No. Students must complete the entire MSA Program curriculum. The clinical experience is designed to prepare students for the Anesthesia Care Team environment.

Can previous health care or medical coursework transfer and/or replace any courses required by the CWRU MSA Program?

No. The curriculum is specifically designed for training the certified anesthesiologist assistant (CAA) professional. Although other coursework may be similar, the MSA Program offers courses with a unique emphasis in anesthesia and the Anesthesia Care Team (ACT) environment as described by the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

If accepted, is a deposit required to hold a spot in the incoming class?

Yes, we require a $3,000 tuition deposit to hold your spot in the program. This deposit must be submitted along with your written acceptance. Your deposit will be forfeited if you withdraw after accepting a spot in the incoming class. The tuition deposit will be applied to your summer tuition once you matriculate.

Are regional anesthesia techniques included in the clinical curriculum?

Yes. Techniques for general, epidural, spinal and peripheral nerve blockades are taught throughout the two-year program of study.

Will I be able to complete the program and find a job if I have a felony conviction?

A prior felony conviction might restrict a student’s ability to complete clinical rotations at some hospitals, and may affect their ability to obtain professional licensure or employment. Acceptance into CWRU Western Reserve University's program or its completion does not imply or guarantee that a student will be able to obtain licensure or employment.

Where are CWRU MSA Program graduates finding jobs?

CWRU students in their second year of study have the option to do clinical rotations at more than 60 affiliate hospitals. Our students are often invited to consider employment opportunities during their second-year rotations. By identifying where they would like to work and planning their second year carefully, CWRU students are likely to have at least one job offer prior to graduation.

Is the job description for a certified anesthesiologist assistant (CAA) equivalent to that of a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)?

Yes. When CAAs and CRNAs are employed by the same organizations their job description is usually identical. One fundamental difference is that CAAs must work under the medical supervision of a licensed anesthesiologist. In some outpatient clinical settings a CRNA can practice under the medical supervision of any physician who is not necessarily an anesthesiologist.

Are there jobs available for new certified anesthesiologist assistants?

Yes. CAAs continue to be in high demand due to the nationwide shortage of anesthesia care providers.

What is the average salary for a new graduate?

Salaries vary depending on the regional cost of living. The average starting salary for a newly graduated certified anesthesiologist assistant is approximately $135,000 for a 40-hour work week, plus benefits and consideration of on-call activity. An increase of approximately 5% to 15% should be expected after the first or second year. Salaries are comparable to compensation paid to Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) employed within the Anesthesia Care Team nationally.