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Educational Opportunities

There is only one nurse anesthesia program in North Dakota, located at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. This program has been at the Masters Degree level since 1987.

Admission to nurse anesthesia programs is highly competitive and only the top applicants in the nursing field are chosen. Nurse Anesthesia education programs include classroom and clinical experiences. The classroom curriculum emphasizes anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, biochemistry, chemistry, physics and pharmacology as they relate to anesthesia. The clinical component provides experience in all anesthesia techniques and procedures for all types of surgery and obstetrics. Many anesthesia programs in the country train CRNAs and physician anesthesia providers side by side.

Educational Cost Comparison
Cost comparison studies regarding the education of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists vs. physician anesthesiologists (MDAs) are quite compelling. According to 1996 data from the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), it costs $59,000 - $76,000 to prepare a CRNA to practice anesthesia, while the average cost of preparing a physician anesthesiologist is $356,000. Four CRNAs can be educationally prepared in the time it takes to prepare one MDA. These four CRNSs will have entered the work force and will have practiced a total of sixteen years by the time one physician anesthesiologist is ready to practice.

This cost analysis is quite interesting in light of the fact that the 1988 Center of Health Economics Research study demonstrated that there is no difference in anesthesia outcome whether the provider is a CRNA or a physician anesthesiologist.

In North Dakota CRNAs in most rural settings practice independently. In urban settings a team approach is often seen with a combination of CRNAs and physician anesthesiologists.

* Information and statistics are provided by the North Dakota Association of Nurse Anesthetists (NDANA) and the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA).