4 minute read

Anesthesia Assistant

Education and Training: Bachelor’s degree with pre-med major in Biology or Chemistry
Average Salary: $85,000 to $120,000 per year
Job Outlook: Very good

The medical and healthcare industry has seen a sharp rise for the past few years, and this has created several job opportunities for those with a background in related fields of science and medicine. Among these job opportunities include anesthesiologist assistants, a job that plays a major role on the overall procedure of preparatory stage, surgical operations, and patient recovery.

Under the supervision of a licensed anesthesiologist, the anesthesia assistant has several responsibilities, which usually fall into the three stages of patient admission.

Accomplish preoperative tasks. From the time the patient enters the hospital to fill up records to the time when patient history is supposed to be taken, it is the job of the anesthesia assistant to make sure that the patient receives proper care and comfort. Preparatory tasks for surgeries, like inserting catheters and intravenous lines or monitoring the various levels of the body also fall under the task of anesthesia assistants.

Manage patient care during surgery. Since most patients are under anesthesia during a medical procedure, it is the job of the anesthesia assistant to ensure that there are no complications while the patient is unconscious. It is the role of the anesthesia assistant to perform airway preparatory and management, administration and maintenance of anesthesia, regular monitoring of peripheral or regional blockages, administration of intravenous fluids and medication, and adjustment of anesthetic levels depending on the needs of the patient.

Monitor patient during recovery period. Even when the surgery is already done, the anesthesia assistant still has to conduct regular checkups and follow-ups with the patient to ensure that there are no post-operative complications that have risen during the downtime period.

Education and Training Requirements

Anesthesia assistants would do well with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, Microbiology, Physics, Allied Health, Respiratory Therapy, Nursing, or Biology, so they can move on to earning a master’s degree via an accredited program. According to the National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants (NCCAA), these programs can take anywhere between 24 to 27 months.

Some of the courses that one can take under the master’s program include anatomy, clinical work, anesthetic science, pharmacology, and physiology, among others.

Getting the Job

For one to succeed in being an anesthesia assistant, one has to pay close attention to detail and organization. Part of an anesthesiology assistant’s job is to relate with clients, gathering information from them for clinical purposes and assisting in medical and preoperative tasks and procedures.

Because they will be working under supervising anesthesiologists, anesthesia assistants should know how to take directions and keep a cool head especially in pressuring times.

Aside from the skills, license to practice is a requirement depending on the state that one will be working in. Some can get their certification from the NCCAA for practice in the United States. When this is achieved, it allows a six-year cycle for certification exams, an exam for demonstration of qualifications, and registration for one to continue medical education and practice.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

The healthcare industry is continually rising, and so are the costs for healthcare. This is the reason why more skilled health workers, specifically anesthesiology assistants are becoming in demand, because those with previous experience can take over the role of physicians and nurses in times of emergency, ensuring the health and safety of the patient.

With the higher demand for anesthesia assistants, employment will grow at a faster rate, a higher rise compared to the rate garnered in 2008. The position of anesthesiologist’s assistant can also enable one to participate in a team within the work station. They will be in charge of assisting with anesthesia services, providing proper facilities for surgery, and participate in a residency training program tailored for anesthesia assistants.

Working Conditions and Environment

Hospitals are the main work place that anesthesia assistants will find themselves in, answering directly to a licensed anesthesiologist. However, though hospitals have regular hours, one has to know what weekly schedule will work best. This is because, like medical doctors and nurses, the schedule can vary depending on the needs of the admitted patients.

Anesthesia assistants would have to be open with the possibility of being called in the evening or being assigned patients to treat during weekends. This will require a meticulous attitude with an immense attention to detail. An ability to multitask is also a necessity in the workplace, given how patients come and go through the hospitals.

Aside from the hospital, anesthesiology assistants can choose to work in any of the 17 states for which the job has been approved. The list includes Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Missouri.

Salary and Benefits

Anesthesia assistants usually begin their career by earning somewhere between $84,000 and $100,000 per year. However, since the employment for this industry is still starting to pick up the pace, the demand for highly skilled professionals will offer growth in the salary to almost $120,000 per year.

Where to Go for More Information

American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants
2209 Dickens Rd.
Richmond, VA 23230-2005
(866) 328-5858

Emory University School of Medicine: Anesthesiology Physicians Assistants Program
475 Woodruff Memorial Bldg.
Atlanta, GA 30322
(404) 727-5910

National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants
PO Box 15519
Atlanta, GA 30333-0519
Fax (404) 687-9978

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesHealth & Medicine