Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and nurse anesthetists are similar in that they are both advanced-practice nurses. However, they do differ in terms of education, job duties/roles, and salary.

Education

Both NPs and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) start off in a master's or doctorate program to earn their advanced-practice degree. Both must complete a set of core studies in advanced pharmacology, advanced pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, and the advanced practice role. Students in both the NP and nurse anesthetist program also must complete core clinical rotations as well. Some schools have a bit of cross-over; for example, some CRNA programs blend concepts of advanced pathophysiology but have a focus on anesthesia principles.

After the foundation courses are completed, students complete courses pertaining to their specialty "track". For example, NP students focus on adult or pediatric primary or acute care, women's health, psychiatry, etc., while the nurse anesthetist students begin a course of study on anesthesia concepts and research. Both programs take approximately the same amount of time.

Learn more about the various degree offerings:

Roles/Duties

The roles and duties of a nurse practitioner versus a nurse anesthetist are quite different. While both must take a complete history and complete a full assessment, a nurse practitioner, depending on his or her role, is responsible for the care of the patient in either the acute or primary care setting. They may focus on preventive care, or care for the patient during an acute illness.

Nurse anesthetists have a different, highly specialized role. They are responsible for administering anesthesia and sedation, monitoring the patient during a procedure, and inserting central lines and epidurals. They must be knowledgeable about the different types of anesthesia medications and be alert to any adverse reactions.

Salary

Nurse anesthetists have a bit of an edge over nurse practitioners when it comes to salary. According to payscale.com, nurse anesthetists earn an average of $142,424 annually. Nurse practitioners, on the other hand, earn an average of $92,433 yearly. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reflects this difference in salary; according to the BLS, nurse anesthetists earn a median salary of $160,270 whereas NPs reportedly earn a median annual salary of $103,880.

The top paying states for NPs and CRNAs also differ slightly. According to the BLS, the top paying states for NPs are:

  • California
  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • Massachusetts
  • Connecticut

Conversely, the top paying states for CRNAs are:

  • Montana
  • Wyoming
  • California
  • Oregon
  • Nevada

As with any occupation, there are variables that factor into salary. Years of experience, additional education, city, and facility all may affect salary. Learn more about NP salary vs CRNA salary.

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