Anesthesiologist Assistant

Anesthesiologist assistants (AAs) are highly educated allied health professionals who work under the direction of licensed anesthesiologists to develop and implement anesthesia care plans.

Anesthesiologist assistants work exclusively within the anesthesia care team environment as described by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). AAs are trained extensively in the delivery and maintenance of quality anesthesia care as well as advanced patient monitoring techniques. AAs may not work independently nor under the direction of any physician other than an anesthesiologist–practicing independently or in a primary care setting is not included in the AA scope of practice.

AAs have educational program accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and a national certification process, requiring board testing every six years and mandated continuing education submission. Licensing varies from state to state.

Scope of practice

Under the direction of an anesthesiologist, anesthesiologist assistants’ responsibilities may include:

  • Pretesting and calibration of anesthesia delivery systems and monitors
  • Collecting preoperative data and performing physical examinations
  • Inserting venous, arterial and other invasive catheters
  • Administering drugs for induction and maintenance of anesthesia
  • Airway management including intubation and fiberoptics
  • Performance and management of regional anesthesia and nerve blocks
  • Performing functions in the intensive care unit and pain clinic
  • Administering cardiovascular drugs as supportive therapy
  • Providing safe transition from operating room to recovery area
  • Participating in administrative affairs, research and clinical instruction

Education

Anesthesiologist assistant educational programs are based on a Masters degree model and require at least 24 months of intense training. Students are taught coursework that enhances their basic science knowledge in physiology, pharmacology, anatomy, and biochemistry with special emphasis on the major human physiologic systems. Clinical instruction educates students extensively in patient monitoring, anesthesia delivery systems, life support systems and patient assessment as well as in the skills needed to provide compassionate, quality care.

For more information

  • To learn more about AAs, please visit www.anesthetist.org
  • For more information on AA educational programs, visit caahep.org
  • Also, be sure to check out FAQs about Anesthesiologist Assistants
  • Each year, on the first Friday in June, the American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants celebrates Anesthesiologist Assistants Day. Learn more about the profession and find ways to help celebrate AA Day at your hospital.