The Cost Of Learning To Sleep

Learn about rewarding options within the medical field without “MD” beside your name.

By Hannah Hammitte

Contributing Writer

Becoming a physician is admirable but with its prestige comes vast expenses and a protracted amount of school.  However, there are other areas of the medical field that can be just as rewarding without the letters “MD” in scripted beside your name.

Take for example a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist and an anesthesiologist.

An anesthesiologist is a physician who specializes in anesthesiology, which is the branch of medicine specializing in the use of drugs or other agents that cause insensibility to pain. According to, the average salary of an anesthesiologist is $300,000.

Don’t expect to be seeing that high of a number in your bank account until you have up to 15 years of school in your review mirror, however. The University of Alabama in Birmingham’s Medical School cost an average of $53,000 per year as of 2014.

Subtract the “MD” and about half the costs and time of school and you have a CRNA.

A CRNA is an advanced practice registered nurse who has acquired graduate-level education and board certification in anesthesia. According to the University of Alabama in Birmingham’s Nurse Anesthesia Program website, the average CRNA salary in the US is $163,467.

A person interested in pursuing a CRNA career must receive a baccalaureate degree in nursing; have a minimum of 1-year critical care experience and undergo 2-3 years of anesthesia school. The entire program cost of anesthesia school at the University of Alabama in Birmingham is $59, 233 for in-state tuition.

There are differences in the authority of anesthesiologist and CRNAs.

Anesthesiologist can perform anesthesia independently or supervise up to 4 CRNAs. CRNAs do not have as much authority, however. CRNAs can perform anesthesia independently but are usually under supervision of an anesthesiologist.

The “MD” and more school will earn you almost $140,000 more than a CRNA but it is important to take into consideration the amount of student loans received and how long it will take to pay them off.

Private medical student Pierce Hibma shared his blog on about real life medical school debt.

Himba said if he selects forbearance during residency and repays his loans over 15 years he will have $237,000 in interest after residency. Himba’s total repayment after 15 years will be $607,000 while his total balance after medical school will only be $236,000.

Without physicians our world would live in chaos but it is important to realize how valuable and rewarding the medical field can be without the letters “MD.”