How to Become an Anesthesiologist Assistant

Overview

As an anesthesiologist assistant, your responsibilities will include: helping licensed anesthesiologists record medical histories, supervising the recovery process, administering anesthesia and/or medications, inserting catheters and observing patients. In order to become an anesthesiologist assistant, you will need to obtain a bachelor’s and master’s degree in biology, anatomy, pre-med or a related field.

In addition, you may also be required to seek licensure and/or certification in order to assist patients. Make sure you research your state’s licensure and certification requirements before choosing an undergraduate and graduate degree program. If you are interested in becoming an anesthesiologist assistant, you will need to fulfill certain educational, certification and licensure requirements. This article will teach you everything you need to know to become an anesthesiologist assistant.

Job Duties

If you want to become an anesthesiologist assistant, you will need to be trained to work under the supervision of a licensed anesthesiologist and be a part of an anesthesia Care Team (ACT).

Listed below are tasks that you will perform as an anesthesiologist assistant:

  • Recording patient medical histories
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Documenting important information (anesthesia-related) in the patient’s medical file.
  • Collecting blood and urine samples
  • Administering anesthesia, induction drugs and intravenous medications.
  • Monitoring, maintaining and adjusting anesthesia prior, during and after surgery

Educational Requirements

If you are interested in becoming an anesthesia assistant, you will be need to obtain a bachelor’s and master’s degree in biology, anatomy, pre-med or a related field.

While in your degree programs you will be taught how to document patient medical histories, evaluate your patient’s psychological, emotional and physical health status, create and review surgical plans and administer intravenous medications and anesthesia (under the supervision of an anesthesiologist.

You must complete a bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 8 hours of anesthesia experience (through observation in an hospital operating room) before you can enroll in an anesthesia assistant (AA) graduate degree program. You can expect to be in your AA graduate program for approximately 26 months.

During that time you will receive both classroom training and clinical training through an internship. Your courses may include: Pediatric Advanced Life Support certification, airway management, pharmacology, physiology, simulation laboratory, Basic Life certification, Advanced Cardiac Life Support certification and anatomy.

In addition to your coursework, you will also be required to complete 2,000 to 2,700 clinical hours before graduating. During your program, you will receive pre-operative, operative and post-operative experience. You will also gain experience administering anesthesia to a myriad of patients in various surgical environments.

During your internship you will supervised by acertified and licensed anesthesiologist. It is important to note that you must have a bachelor’s degree in a pre-med field before you can be accepted to an AA graduate program. In addition, you must be eligible to attend medical school.

Certification

Once you graduate from your AA graduate program, you will be eligible to take the certification exam for anesthesiologist assistants. The certification exam is a computer-based written exam that is administered by the National Board of Medical Examiners. Once you pass your certification exam, you will be officially certified as an anesthesiologist assistant.

It is important to remember that in order to uphold your certification, you must complete 40 hours of continued education every 2 to 3 years and successfully pass a continued demonstration of qualifications exam every 6 years.

Salary Prospects

As an anesthesiologist assistant, you will most likely be employed at a hospital, clinic outpatient surgical facility, educational institution or private practice. You will be responsible for assisting the anesthesiologist with brain,cardiac and/or transplant surgery. You may also be responsible for patient trauma care. If you an anesthesiologist assistant, you can expect to make between $90,000 and $120,000 annually. This salary range includes over 40 hours a week, on-call overtime and benefits. With education and experience, you may be able to earn between $160,000 and 180,000 per year. Your location, education and experience will determine your average annual salary. The average salary for anesthesiologist assistants in 2011 was approximately $86,400.

Career Outlook

The career outlook for anesthesiologist assistants looks good. Anesthesiologist assistants are currently employed in 13 states with that number rising each year. The majority of anesthesiologist assistants live in Ohio and Georgia, because those states have AA graduate programs that are tailored towards anesthesiologist assistant students. It is estimated that in the future there will be more jobs available for anesthesiologist assistants than anesthesiologists. Anesthesiologist assistant graduates are currently in demand and that number is expected to double by the year 2020.

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