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Prospective anesthesia assistants must complete a Master of Science in Anesthesia program at a university with a health science center. There are no undergraduate or graduate certificate programs in the field. According to the American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants, there are only five schools in the United States that offer master's degree programs for aspiring anesthesia assistants.
The programs take at least two years to complete; three semesters of classroom lectures are combined with three semesters of clinical rotations. The rotations are divided among different surgical specialties, including general surgery, pediatrics, and neurosurgery.
Students interested in enrolling in a master's degree program for anesthesiologist assistants must have a baccalaureate degree and a GPA of at least 2.75. They must also have completed undergraduate courses in chemistry, biology, laboratory science, biochemistry, and calculus. Additionally, students should complete either a Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) or a Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) before applying.
Anesthesia Assistant Degree and Certificate Programs
An anesthesia assistant, also known as an anesthesiologist assistant, is a type of specialty physician assistant who works under the supervision of a licensed anesthesiologist. Master of Science in Anesthesia program students learn the various types of anesthesia that are administered, including epidural, general, and spinal. They also learn how to operate anesthesia delivery systems and equipment, monitor patient care, and calibrate equipment.
Before graduate students can advance to clinical rotations, they must first complete courses covering the basic skills and procedures involved in the anesthesia profession. Some courses include:
- Procedures for anesthesiology assistants
- Introduction to anesthesia
- Monitoring patients
- Anesthesia instrumentation
- Anesthesia and pharmacology
- Principles and practices of anesthesia technology
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that physician assistants in general held about 98,470 jobs across the U.S. in 2015 (www.bls.gov). Of these individuals, about 21,000 worked in general and surgical hospitals, while about 56,000 worked in physicians' offices. The annual median salary for physician assistants as of May 2015 was $98,180. Demand for physician assistants is expected to grow 30% between 2014 and 2024.
According to the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs, anesthesiologist assistants can gain certification from the National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants (NCCAA). To gain certification, individuals must pass an examination. They must also re-certify ever six years by taking another examination and demonstrating evidence of continuing education in the field.
A Master of Science in Anesthesia prepares students for work as an anesthesia assistant, and is the only degree of its kind at the master's level, with no undergraduate options available, either. These professionals can earn certification following graduation.