Anesthesiologist Assistant Career Info and Education Requirements

Assistant anesthesiologists require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties and certification to see if this is the right career for you.

Anesthesiologist assistants work under the supervision of licensed anesthesiologists in monitoring and adjusting anesthetic levels, handling pre-surgery tasks and assisting patients. To enter an anesthesiologist degree program, students should have an undergraduate degree in a health or science field. Once they have completed their post-baccalaureate degree, anesthesiologist assistants can continue into a doctoral program to become full anesthesiologists.

Essential Information

Aiding anesthesiologists in the administration of anesthesia, assistant anesthesiologists collect medical history information and closely monitor anesthetic levels in patients. Assistant anesthesiologists are required to hold a post-baccalaureate degree in assisting anesthesiology, which can be attained through a Master of Health Science degree, and certification is available.

Required Education Completion of post-baccalaureate degree in anesthesiologist assisting, usually a Master of Health Science.
Other Requirements Certification through National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants (NCCAA) is optional
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 19% (nurse anesthetists)
Median Salary (2015)* $104,740 (nurse anesthetists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Anesthesiologist Assistant Career Information

Working under a licensed anesthesiologist, anesthesiologist assistants assist in the preparation and delivery of anesthesia for medical procedures such as surgery. Anesthesiologist assistants have a wide range of duties. They are responsible for monitoring and adjusting anesthetic levels, performing preoperative tasks such as inserting intravenous lines and catheters, anesthesia drug administration, collecting preoperative medical history and providing recovery room care. Anesthesiologists are primarily employed in medical centers that perform procedures such as trauma care, transplant surgery, neurosurgery and cardiac surgery. While the BLS doesn't provide information specifically for anesthesiologist assistants, the median pay for nurse anesthesiologists was $104,740 as of 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov).

Education Requirements

Prospective anesthesiologist assistants are required to hold a post-baccalaureate degree in anesthesiologist assisting, typically offered as a Master of Health Science. Anesthesiologist assistant degree programs require students hold a bachelor's degree and have completed premedical courses in math, physics, chemistry and biology. Typical undergraduate majors include nursing, medical technology, respiratory therapy, physics, chemistry and biology. Some programs require prospective students also take the Medical College Entrance Test (MCAT) prior to admission.

Anesthesiologist assistant programs provide students with extensive training in delivering anesthesia care and the monitoring of patients. Common courses include localized anesthesia, anesthesia equipment and delivery systems, principles of airway management, pulmonary anatomy and physiology, pharmacology for anesthesia, medical terminology and pre-anesthetic evaluation. Through clinical rotations at local hospitals, anesthesiologist assistant programs provide students with extensive real-world experience. Programs also often provide students with hands-on instruction via anesthesia laboratories or mock operating rooms. Anesthesiologist assistants are able to become certified through the National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants (NCCAA). Graduates of master's degree programs sometimes pursue Doctor of Medicine degrees to become full anesthesiologists.

Anesthesiologist assistants often work in hospitals and health centers that provide surgical and trauma services. A Master of Health Science is the most common degree that provides anesthesiologist assistants with the training and education to look for work. This program provides students with hands-on experience and clinical rotations so that they are able to gain real experience before they go for their certification and enter the work force.


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