Finding Your Path to Providing Anesthesia Care

Updated March 4, 2024

The anesthesia care team is made up of anesthesiologists, residents, and non-physician anesthesia providers, including anesthetists and nurse anesthetists. The team may also rely on professionals such as anesthesia techs or other specialists. For students with a premedical background who are interested in anesthesia, the two positions they are most likely to consider as future careers are anesthetists and anesthesiologists.

These two career paths both have their advantages, and students considering applying to either a Master of Science in Anesthesia program or medical school should weigh their options carefully. To help you deliberate, we’ve outlined some of the key differences between the two paths in the following table.

Comparing Career Paths

  Master of Science in Anesthesia Program Medical School
Education Bachelor’s degree with premedical prerequisites Bachelor’s degree with premedical prerequisites
Additional Experience 16 hours shadowing a CAA preferred Clinical experience and extracurricular experience required
Average GPA for Matriculants 3.70 3.75
Average MCAT Score  503 511.9
Average GRE Scores Verbal Reasoning: 155
Quantitative Reasoning: 157
Analytical Writing: 4.4
Medical Training Six total years 
  • Four for your bachelor’s degree 
  • Two for your master’s degree
Twelve total years 
  • Four for your bachelor’s degree 
  • Four in medical school
  • One in internship
  • Three in residency
Cost to Complete Post-Graduate Education or Training $138,726 $250,000 or more

All anesthetists must pass the national certification exam at the end of their master’s program in order to be eligible to work. Requirements for additional certification are dependent on the state in which they choose to practice, and some anesthetists may be required to obtain a state license.

Anesthesiologists must be board certified nationally and obtain a state license to practice.

Take the Next Step

If you are considering pursuing a career in anesthesia and want to work as a key member of the anesthesia care team, weigh your options carefully and determine which path is most suitable for meeting your goals.

We encourage you to take time to shadow in an operating room. Shadowing offers an unparalleled opportunity to observe and will provide key insights into the anesthesia care team model. The experience can further your understanding of the team dynamic, and help you to decide where you might fit as a member of the team.