Anesthesiologist Assistant Future Job Outlook and Career Facts

Anesthesiologist Assistant Career Description

Anesthesiologist assistants (AAs) are health care professionals who've completed an accredited academic and clinical training program. They work under the supervision of an anesthesiologist (a physician with special training in the field), and assist in administering anesthetics to patients undergoing surgery. As dependent practitioners participating as part of a medical care team, AAs collaborate with the anesthesiologist to induce and maintain anesthesia and monitor the patient's status during surgical procedures.

Anesthesiologist Assistant Career Details

Specific responsibilities vary from site to site, but typical responsibilities include the following: calibrating and pre-testing anesthesia delivery systems; collecting pre-operative data and performing physical exams; inserting venous, arterial and other invasive catheters; administering drugs; airway management, including intubations and fiber optics; administering cardiovascular drugs as support therapy; providing a safe transition from the operating room to the recovery room; performing functions in intensive care and pain units; and participating in administrative affairs, research and clinical instruction. Generally, both the AA and the anesthesiologist are present at the beginning and end of the case and at the time of any major changes in the patient's status.

Anesthesiologist Assistant Career Specializations

Supervising anesthesiologists are, at all times, responsible for the activities of the Anesthesiologist Assistant. The job requirements for AAs are very specific, and each state's legislation, regulations and definitions are different. Those seeking specifics should consult the medical board of the state where they intend to practice or contact the American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants (AAAA).

Programs to Consider:

Anesthesiologist Assistant Career Required Training

Anesthesiologist Assistants educational programs are based on the masters' degree model and require at least two full academic years. Programs must be co-directed by board certified anesthesiologists. AA educational programs usually accept students who have prior education in the sciences, as these subjects best qualify a student to pursue a career in medicine, dentistry, or any of the basic medical sciences. 

Students are taught course work that enhances their basic science knowledge in physiology, pharmacology, anatomy, and biochemistry with special emphasis on the cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, nervous, and neuromuscular systems. Clinical instruction educates students extensively in patient monitoring, anesthesia delivery systems, life support systems, and patient assessment as well and in the skills needed to provide compassionate, quality care.

Anesthesiologist Assistant Career Coursework

Applicants to a CAAHEP-accredited program must have premedical undergraduate backgrounds but may have college degrees in one of several areas. Typically, applicants hold degrees in biology, chemistry or a related allied health area. Over the years, approximately 10-15 percent of graduates of AA programs further their education in medicine at the graduate school level, with the overwhelming majority of those who've gone on to medical school doing residencies in anesthesiology.

Anesthesiologist Assistant Career Working Environment

Anesthesiologist Assistants are employed wherever anesthesiologists work: in hospitals, clinics, outpatient surgical facilities and academic settings. AAs currently practice in 13 states, with other states expected to be added as the population of AAs increases, which it is expected to do at least through the year 2010. The majority of AAs are currently in Georgia and Ohio, as those are the states which currently have educational training programs tailored specifically to becoming an AA.

Anesthesiologist Assistant Career Future Job Outlook

The future for anesthesiologist assistants is likely to be better than that of anesthesiologists. Recent graduates are in high demand, and, nationwide, employment will remain stable for the foreseeable future.

Anesthesiologist Assistant Salary

The median salary is $86,410 in 2011.

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