How to Become An Anesthesiologist Assistant

by Karen Farnen; Updated September 26, 2017
Surgeon and nurses operating on patient

An anesthesiologist assistant helps licensed anesthesiologists in all phases of their work, from taking patient histories to supervision of recovery. Some of their additional responsibilities include inserting catheters, administering anesthesia, giving other medications and monitoring patients. In preparation for the crucial role of an anesthesiologist assistant, you need a premedical bachelor's degree and a master's degree in the specialty. Some states also require anesthesiologist assistants to become licensed or certified.

Step 1

Complete a bachelor's degree that includes the normal premedical classes. Graduate school admission requirements often include two semesters of biology, two semesters of chemistry, anatomy, physiology, two semesters of physics and two semesters of advanced college math.

Step 2

Take the Graduate Records Examination or the Medical College Admission Test and apply to an anesthesiology assistant program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

Step 3

Complete the master's program in anesthesiology assisting. Degree programs typically take 24 to 27 months and include coursework in pharmacology, anesthetic science, anatomy and patient monitoring, plus hands-on clinical practice.

Step 4

Complete the certification or licensing requirements of your state medical board. Some states mandate certification or licensing for anesthesiologist assistants even though they must work under the direction of licensed anesthesiologists. The National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants administers a certifying exam, which you can take in your last year of study or after graduation.

Step 5

Maintain your certification by completing 40 hours of continuing education every two years and documenting your study to the NCCAA. Every six years, pass the Examination for Continued Demonstration of qualifications to keep your certification.

Tips

  • You can become an anesthesiologist assistant with any undergraduate major if you take the required classes. Most students,though, major in math, biology or other sciences, or health professions such as nursing, Although anesthesiologist assistants often have similar responsibilities to nurse anesthetists, their practice comes under the state board of medicine, not the state board of nursing.

Warnings

  • The scope of work of an anesthesiologist assistant varies with the rules of the state board of medicine, the anesthesiologist in charge and other applicable laws, according to the American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants.

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