Career Spotlight: Anesthesiology Assistant

Are you interested in health care careers, but don’t like the sound of 4+ years of professional school training? Not to worry! The truth is, there are many ways to have a sustainable and fulfilling career in health care, and being an anesthesiology assistant might be a great option for you. Are you interested in exploring this career path? Read on to learn about the role of an anesthesiology assistant! 

What do anesthesiology assistants do? 

Anesthesiology assistants work to design and implement anesthesia care plans as non-physician anesthesia care providers. Their jobs involve working directly with patients before, during, and after anesthesia. Before anesthesia, they may be responsible for making initial approaches to patients in order to obtain health histories, performing physical examinations, and recording data. During anesthesia, they may assist in inducing, maintaining, and altering anesthesia levels. Following anesthesia, they may conduct patient rounds, record progress, and complete case summaries. Other duties of anesthesiology assistants include performing regional anesthesia techniques, assisting in intensive care units and pain clinics, and carrying out administrative work relevant to the anesthesiology practice. 

Where do they work? 

Anesthesiology assistants work in a variety of clinical settings including hospitals, private physician offices, clinics, surgical centers, and medical institutions. The ability to become licensed and practice varies depending on the state. Anesthesiology practices in many states currently employ anesthesiology assistants, although in certain states they do not. Some states, including Wisconsin, allow for full licensure. Others, such as Michigan, allow for “Delegatory Authority,” which means practicing under the license of an anesthesiologist. See an up-to-date list of states here. 

Who do they work with? 

Anesthesiology assistants usually work as part of an Anesthesia Care Team and are directed by licensed anesthesiologists. Anesthesia Care Teams consist of physicians (anesthesiologists, anesthesiology fellows, etc.) and non-physicians (nurse anesthetists, anesthesiology assistants, etc). This team works together to provide care to each patient, and all members of the team make themselves known to the patient, so no one operates exclusively behind the scenes. Read more about Anesthesia Care Teams here. 

What training do they need? 

It usually takes about two years after completing a bachelor’s degree to become licensed as an anesthesiology assistant. This training consists of a master’s-level anesthesiology assistant program, at the end of which students may apply for licensure. Browse a list of CAAHEP-accredited master’s programs here (select “Anesthesiologist Assistant” for the profession name). Continuing medical education is also required in order to maintain a license. 

What is their pay and job outlook? 

Anesthesiology assistants are in high demand, because there is a consistent shortage of people trained in the administration of anesthesia. The average salary range for anesthesiology assistants is $95,000 to $180,000 per year, and the projected job growth from 2016 to 2026 is 37.4%, much higher than the average of 8%. 

Where can I go to find out more? Professional organizations and resources: 

Connecting with anesthesiology professional organizations is a great way to form connections and stay in the loop about upcoming events and resources. Here are some organizations you might want to look at: 

Lawrence Connections: Alumni in anesthesiology fields! 

Do you think you might be interested, but still have some questions? Or are you sure this is the job for you, and want some guidance along the winding path that leads there? At any stage of the process, no one can tell you the lay of the land better than an anesthesiology professional themselves! While there aren’t any alumni working directly as Anesthesiology Assistants, Adam Krings is a registered nurse studying nurse anesthesia at Mayo Clinic. Check out Viking Connect, Lawrence’s alumni platform, to find more alumni! 

Finding a career can be a long process, and sometimes one of the biggest challenges is learning what jobs are out there. Wherever your journey takes you, we’re glad you took the time to learn about this important career track!