Anesthesiologist assistants work under the direct supervision of anesthesiologists and perform tasks like taking the medical history of patients and administering anesthesia. They play an important role in the healthcare industry.
If you look up the word anesthesia in the dictionary you will find the definition as ‘loss of bodily sensation with or without loss of consciousness’. Anesthesiologists administer anesthesia to patients under perioperative conditions and the anesthesiologist assistants aide them with this task. Anesthesiologist assistants (AA) work as specialized physician assistants under the direct supervision of a licensed and qualified anesthesiologist. Their work environment mostly consists of hospitals and big clinics. They mostly work as part of an anesthesiology team working with patients who are in line for a surgical procedure.
One of the duties of an anesthesiologist assistant is to interact with patients and their families in order to acquire their medical history. They conduct preliminary physical exams and record vital statistics. Collecting samples of blood, urine, etc for diagnostic tests is a part of their job profile. The job description involves answering queries of patients and family members regarding the medical procedure.
Performing initial cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and advanced cardiovascular life support (ACLS) in emergency situations are part of their duties. Contacting the supervising anesthesiologist and apprising him of the patient’s conditions is their responsibility. Pretesting anesthesia delivery systems and operating special monitors is one of their tasks. They also assist the anesthesiologist in the application of hi-tech medical equipment like echocardiography, artery catheterization, etc.
Other tasks that they perform include preparing the patient with insertion of intravenous and arterial catheters. They establish invasive and noninvasive methods of monitoring patients as advised by the supervising anesthesiologist. They make patient rounds with anesthesiologists and record vital signs and make progress reports of the patients. Transcribing the anesthesiologist’s orders and filing patient’s records is also a part of the job.
Education and Salary
If you are inclined toward the healthcare sector then you could opt for an anesthesiologist’s assistant’s career. One of the requirements is a bachelor’s degree in pre-medical subjects. Your degree program should consist of work in subjects like, biology, mathematics, chemistry, etc. To become an AA you need to enroll for a master’s level program which can last for 24-27 months. The master’s program consists, the study of topics like pharmacology, anesthetic science, anatomy and more. They have to then apply for certification which is offered by the National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants (NCCAA).
The current scenario of the healthcare industry isn’t that great, but anesthesiologist assistants are doing well. According to reports there is a wide range in the salary, with figures indicating salaries starting from $55,000 and going above the $80,000 mark. The location of the job is another component that decides the salary. Reported average salaries in the state of California stand at $75,000 and for the state of New York it is $82,000 per year. In locations like Texas the numbers drop to around $65,000 per year and for the state of Florida it is $63,000.
Analysts predict that the government spending in the healthcare sector will open up new job opportunities for anesthesiologist assistants. If you planning to enter this profession this is a good time, just make sure you get your master’s from an accredited institute.