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Anesthesiologist Assistant

written by: dianahardin•edited by: DaniellaNicole•updated: 1/29/2009

What is an anesthesiologist assistant? What are the program requirements for this career? Read more to find out if this could be the career you've been looking for.

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    Education and Training

    A four-year degree is required for an anesthesiologist assistant program, as are pre-medical courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and math. Although any baccalaureate degree is acceptable, recommended degrees include the sciences or allied health professions.

    The anesthesiologist assistant program is typically 24 to 28 months in length. Certification is required by the National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants (NCCAA). The certification process incorporates a 6-year cycle of examinations, qualifications, and continuing education.

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    Nature of the Work

    The anesthesiology assistant (AA) functions as a specialty physician’s assistant working in conjunction with a qualified anesthesiologist.

    The AA assists the anesthesiologist in developing and implementing an anesthesia care plan. The AA obtains patient history, performs pre-op procedures, performs anesthesia airway management and drug administration, assists in administering and monitoring peripheral regional nerve blockade, administers support therapy, adjusts anesthetic levels constantly, performs intraoperative monitoring, provides recovery room care, and functions in the intensive care unit. Anesthesiologist assistants may also function outside of the hospital environment in pain clinics or educational or administrative settings.

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    Work Environment

    Anesthesiologist Assistants are used in hospitals and larger facilities that perform surgery and trauma care. Their responsibilities are identical to the nurse anesthetist. They work as members of the anesthesia care team.

    Anesthesiologist assistants usually work a 40-hour week; however, they may be required to take call. They will be on their feet much of the day, and they may be required to lift patients.

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    Earnings and Employment Outlook

    The income of an anesthesiologist assistant in 2006 ranged from $95,000.00 to $120,000.00.

    There are some states that have not yet incorporated legislation regarding licensing for anesthesiologist assistants; however, it is becoming increasingly evident that AAs can be a great benefit to medical institutions and a valuable member of any anesthesia team. As of 2006, there were 17 states that employed anesthesiologist assistants and 6 schools nationwide with an AA program. That number is expected to increase, as legislation moves forward. Additionally, the increasing aging population will likely create more surgical procedures, which will increase the need for anesthesia related services.

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    American Medical Association, Anesthesiologist Assistant, on the internet at