Typically, aspiring anesthesiologist assistants must complete a master's degree program and several hours of clinical rotations before gaining certification. According to the American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants, there are currently ten accredited anesthesiology assistant programs in the U.S.
These master's programs incorporate a lot of hands-on lab work, simulations and clinical training in hospitals and related healthcare facilities. Graduates need to take the National Board of Medical Examiners' national certification exam for anesthesiologist assistants.
Here are some topics commonly explored in anesthesiology assistant courses:
- Anesthetic theory
- Regional anesthetic placement
- Pulse oximetry
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List of Classes
Anesthesiology Assistant Fundamentals Course
Students in this course learn the fundamentals of introducing drugs or anesthesia to patients (induction), maintaining a patient throughout the surgery and observing patients emerging from anesthesia. The course acquaints students with a variety of instrumentation used during surgical and preoperative procedures. Students investigate principles of airway management and develop patient evaluation skills. In addition to completing work in the classroom, students enrolled in an introductory anesthesiology assistant class must perform clinical rotations where they will gain practical knowledge of providing anesthesia to patients.
Airway Management Course
Students in this course learn how to interpret monitoring instruments during surgical procedures. This may include electrocardiograms (ECG), oxygen saturation levels, analyses of respiratory gases, echocardiograms and cardiac outputs (how much blood (volume) is being pumped each minute by the heart). The structure and function of human airways are examined and procedures for preventing complications or maintaining airways during difficulties are explored. Coursework is supplemented with lab work to gain a practical, hands-on understanding of oral and nasal airways and intubation of oral and nasal airways. Other techniques studied include fiberoptic intubation, ventilation using a bag and mask and application to the airways of a laryngeal mask.
Pharmacology and Instrumentation Course
In this course, students are provided with a brief history of anesthesia. They explore the different types of anesthesia used and infection control measures. In addition, they learn how to start arterial cannulae and intravenous catheters. Various anesthesia practices, equipment and procedures are examined, such as breathing circuits types, ventilators, gas distribution systems, systems to deliver anesthesia and advanced monitoring systems.
Pharmacology related to anesthesia is another topic that is looked at in this course. This may include inhaled anesthetics, barbiturates, anticholinergics, anticoagulants, diuretics, opioids and anti-inflammatories. Also covered are monitoring machines and may include ECG machines, blood pressure monitors and pulse oximeter (determines how much oxygen there is in the blood).