Nursing Careers: Becoming a Nurse Anesthetist in Canada

by York RN

Who Is A NurseAn anesthesia nurse works in an operating room to provide anesthesia to patients who must undergo surgical procedures.

Canada is currently quite far behind the United States in this career category. In fact, the US was exploring masters level nurse anesthetist programs as far back as the late 1970′s. The Ontario Government announced theirs in 2007.

Canada’s slow progression to develop a nurse anesthetist program is unfortunate. As the RNAO has stated, nurse anesthetists would be instrumental in decreasing surgical wait times.

In 2007, Ontario officially announced a joint program between the faculties of Nursing and Medicine at the University of Toronto to provide a curriculum required for nurse practitioner-anesthesia.

Today, there are nurse practitioner-anesthesia courses at the University of Toronto, but it is not clear if there are, as of yet, any practicing nurse anesthetists.

An alternative path for an RN is to become an anesthetist assistant. This career path was announced jointly with the nurse practitioner-anesthesia program in 2007 by Ontario.

The Michener Institute in Toronto currently provides a anesthesia assistant program. However, the CNO states that “while the role of anesthesia assistant is within an RN’s scope of practice, it is beyond the basic preparation of RNs and dependant on the direction and close supervision of an anesthesiologist”.

A masters prepared nurse practitioner-anesthetist, on the other hand, would function as an autonomous health-care professional.


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