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Anesthesiologist Assistant

Education and Training: Some college preferred; licensure required
Average Salary: $84,400 per year
Job Outlook: Very Good

An anesthesiologist assistant is similar to a physician’s assistant, but they specialize in the area of anesthesiology. Like other physician’s assistants, an anesthesiologist assistant is able to perform certain tasks apart from the direct supervision of the anesthesiologist, but they are still under the direct control of the anesthesiologist.

Independently, an anesthesiologist may perform any number of preparatory tasks for giving a patient anesthesia, and they may also be able to administer certain types of anesthesia under the direction of the actual anesthesiologist. For instance, an anesthesiologist assistant is able to administer blood and fluids to a patient, control levels of anesthesia during a procedure, monitor a patient’s progress during and after the anesthesia being administered, and perform basic techniques like taking blood pressure.

In many hospitals, anesthesiologist assistants work very independently and are able to have plenty of autonomy over their jobs, though their level of contact with the anesthesiologist will vary depending on the type of environment in which they are working.

Education and Training Requirements

For the most part, training programs for anesthesiologist assistants require that their students have a bachelor’s degree with a premedical background – or at least a certain number of science and math courses. To prepare for this career, students would do well to focus on a degree with plenty of biology, chemistry, physics, and math classes, although a degree in respiratory therapy or medical technology might suit just as well for some training courses.

Students accepted into an anesthesiologist assistant training course will add about two years or a little more to their post-bachelor’s education. In all states, anesthesiologist assistants are required to have licensure through the National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants (NCCAA). The certification is good for six years, after which point the anesthesiologist assistant will have to undergo further testing to renew licensure.

Getting the Job

Because this is a fast-growing field, many anesthesiologist assistants have the opportunity to work for a hospital or medical facility straight out of their certification program. Those concerned about being able to find employment after their completed education should seek out programs with employment placement services or opportunities.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

As with most health-related fields, jobs for anesthesiologist assistants are expected to grow at a great rate over the next several years. This is partially because healthcare facilities, in looking for ways to cut costs for themselves and their patients, will hire more assistants per anesthesiologist so that they can provide excellent service for less.

Anesthesiologist assistants typically advance simply by getting paid better and having more responsibility as they gain more experience. They will always be supervised by a doctor, but they can gain more autonomy in certain areas as they become more knowledgeable in their field over the years.

Working Conditions and Environment

Working conditions for anesthesiologist assistants can vary greatly. The majority of these assistants are employed by larger medical facilities, such as hospitals, which routinely provide trauma care, surgery, and other services which require anesthesia. Many anesthesiologists work a set forty hour work week, but the job may require odd hours, such as working at night or on weekends. Some hospitals will also require anesthesiologist assistants to be on call for a certain number of hours per week or per month.

Salary and Benefits

The median salary for an anesthesiologist assistant is about $84,000, but they can make up to $120,000 or more a year even as recent graduates. For the most part, these full time jobs come with good benefits and paid personal days and vacation time.

Where to Go for More Information
To find out more about anesthesiologist assistant requirements and job opportunities, check out the following resources:

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

American Academy of Physician Assistants
2318 Mill Rd., Ste. 1300
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 836-2272

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

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