Career Info for a Degree in Anesthesiologist Assisting

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an anesthesiologist assistant. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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To become an anesthesiologist assistant, one must complete a master's degree in the field and pass a certification exam. This role has similarities to a physician assistant, where anesthesiologist assistants work with anesthesiologists in different capacities, including taking patient's history and even administering drugs if qualified. AAs must maintain an active license to work in this career.

Essential Information

Anesthesiologist assistants work with anesthesiologists as part of a surgical team. Their duties may include taking the patient's medical history and monitoring vital signs during surgery. Anesthesiologist assistants need to earn a master's degree in the field, and these are offered at just a few schools. They also need to pass a national certification examination.

Required Education Master's degree in anesthesia assisting
Other Requirements Pass national certification examination
Projected Job Growth 30% from 2014-24 (all physician assistants)*
Median Salary (2015) $117,907**

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale.com.

Degree Overview

An anesthesiologist assistant (AA), also known as an anesthetist, is a non-physician allied health professional. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies them as a type of physician assistant. To become an AA, students must graduate from a master's degree program. There are seven universities in the U.S. that offer anesthesiologist assisting programs. Students entering an anesthesiology assisting master's program usually hold undergraduate degrees. A program may require applicants to complete prerequisite courses and take the Medical College Admission Test. Programs often last 24 months and instruct students in such subjects as anatomy, cardiovascular system care, neurological diseases, localized anesthesia and pharmacology. A clinical is generally part of the degree program.

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Certification Overview

According to the American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants (AAAA), anesthesiologist assistants may certify by passing the National Commission for the Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants (NCCAA) exam. Assistants become eligible to take the NCCAA certification examination upon completion of an accredited anesthesiologist assisting degree program. To maintain one's certification, an AA must take continuing medical education courses (40 hours) within each two year period and every sixth years pass a recertification test.

Anesthesiologist's Assistants

AAs work in 18 states by acquiring a license and under the direct supervision of an anesthesiologist. Additionally, six states allow AAs to practice by physician delegation - a licensed anesthesiologist gives specific anesthesia tasks to properly qualified AAs. They may take a patient's history, inset various types of catheters and perform drug administration. They assist in giving the patient general and local anesthetic and in monitoring patients' vital signs and other statistics during surgery. Anesthesiologist assistants may also work in non-surgery settings, including maternity and recovery wards and intensive care units.

Anesthesiologist assistants help anesthesiologists. They typically have a master's degree from an accredited program, pass a certification exam, and must maintain a license. Qualified AA's may have the ability to administer anesthesia under the direction of a licensed physician.

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