Are AA's and AA programs trying to give the impression that learning and practicing anesthesia as an AA is a much more rigorous endeavor than learning and practicing it as a CRNA?
What's the deal with the perceived elitism here? In terms of rigor, difficulty, prestige, etc., it almost sounds like you guys are placing the AA profession on a higher pedestal than going to medical school and becoming a neurosurgeon.
If that kind of 100% do-or-die attitude is essential to practicing competently as an anesthetist, then why is it that most CRNA's enter the field with a casual attitude of "I guess I'll go to the next step and become a CRNA," and yet they are considered to be competent anesthesia providers? If your perception of the ideal AA program applicant truly represented the only kind of individual who could competently practice as an anesthetist, there would be thousands of CRNA's committing grievous cases of malpractice every day.
Also, consider that, up until 2 or 3 years ago, it was honestly quite easy to get accepted to an AA program. Up until that point in time, the vast majority of applicants were recent graduates with biology degrees, had low (3.1 - 3.3) GPA's, similarly low GRE scores, and nothing more than the minimum 8 hours of shadowing. There were a few non-traditional applicants who wanted to become AA's as career-changers, but for the most part, the applicant pool was comprised of fairly recent college graduates who thought AA's had cool jobs and made good money. Don't get me wrong -- these people weren't "in it for the money," but they weren't some breed of anesthesia-devoted robots who were laser-focused on becoming from day one of their freshman year in college.
Let's get real here.... the REAL reason this attitude has surfaced lately is because, for the first time in many years, AA program admission has become competitive, and so now the schools can afford to be pickier about which applicants they interview and accept.
With the increased level of competitiveness, they might be able to afford to sift through the stacks of applications to selectively accept those who actually do have a "burning passion" to practice anesthesia, but admit it -- that kind of mindset isn't requisite to practicing competently as an AA.
(Disclaimer: I am NOT a CRNA)