About your anesthesiology team

Who gives anesthesia? 

At UCSF anesthesia is given using an anesthesia care team model (ACT). The ACT consists of an attending anesthesiologist who supervises either Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), or Resident Anesthesiologist who are in training. At UCSF Attending Anesthesiologists can supervise up to 3 cases with CRNAs and up-to 2 cases with Residents. Your Anesthesiologist is present for critical portions of the case and immediately available for assistance for the duration of the case. 

What training does an anesthesiologist receive? Are they doctors?

Anesthesiologists are certified MDs with at least 12 years of training. Before entering an Anesthesia Residency Training program, some anesthesiologists have completed additional training in areas such as surgery, internal medicine, or pediatrics.

Many anesthesiologists continue their Anesthesia Specialty training after finishing their Anesthesia Residency. This additional training can be one or more years devoted to Pediatric Anesthesia, Cardiac Anesthesia, Intensive Care Medicine, in Multidisciplinary Pain Management, or another area of clinical anesthesia or anesthesia research.

Who are CRNAs?

Certified Registered Nurses Anesthetists (CRNAs) are advanced practice nurses who specialize in anesthesiology. They are required to have a Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) or a graduate degree in nursing, 1-2 years of Intensive Care Unit (ICU)/Critical Care nursing experience (most have more) before returning to school for their anesthesia training. CRNA programs are either a Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctorate of Nurse Anesthesia Practice and are accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Education Programs. CRNAs also must pass the National Certification Examination following graduation.

CRNAs provide anesthesia in collaboration with surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists, podiatrists, and other qualified healthcare professionals. When a nurse anesthetist administers anesthesia, it is recognized as the practice of nursing; when administered by an anesthesiologist, it is recognized as the practice of medicine. Regardless of whether their educational background is in nursing or medicine, all anesthesia professionals give anesthesia the same way.