What does an Anesthesiologist Assistant do?

Dee S.
Dee S.

An anesthesiologist assistant is a health care professional who works under the supervision of an anesthesiologist, primarily assisting him while he prepares a patient for anesthesia. The job responsibilities of an anesthesiologist assistant vary according to the setting and the place. For example, some hospitals may have stricter guidelines on what an anesthesiologist assistant can do.

A patient may be given inhalational anaesthetic.
A patient may be given inhalational anaesthetic.

Although an anesthesiologist assistant may take part in the pre-anesthetic evaluation, it is not something they normally participate in. Usually, she will help the anesthesiologist review the data as the medical staff presents it. Sometimes, she can assist the anesthesiologist in maintaining anesthesia during surgery and monitory the status of the patient while surgery is going on.

The anesthesiologist assistant may help calm a patient as the medications are administered.
The anesthesiologist assistant may help calm a patient as the medications are administered.

Calibrating and testing the equipment that delivers and monitors anesthesia is a common duty of the anesthesiologist assistant. In addition, she may be responsible for inserting an IV or a catheter or conducting a basic physical examination of a patient. If drugs are needed prior to inducing anesthesia, she will be in charge of administering such drugs to the patient.

The job responsibilities of an anesthesiologist assistant vary based on the setting and place.
The job responsibilities of an anesthesiologist assistant vary based on the setting and place.

After the patient is out of surgery, the work of the anesthesiologist assistant is not over. She may be responsible for ensuring that the patient has a safe and uneventful transition from the operating room to the room designated for recovery. Sometimes she may be directed to attend to a patient’s needs in the pain unit or the intensive care unit of a hospital. Lastly, various administrative affairs, research projects, and clinical classes, may be among her duties.

An anesthesiologist assistant may assist an anesthesiologist in maintaining anesthesia during surgery.
An anesthesiologist assistant may assist an anesthesiologist in maintaining anesthesia during surgery.

Usually, both the anesthesiologist and the anesthesiologist assistant are present at the beginning of a patient’s case. Then, they continue on and are present at each major stage and at every change of the status of the patient. Being able to follow a patient through surgery and recovery is beneficial, in that the individual aspects of a case become well-known and proper care can be given. It is a job that requires skill, knowledge, and the ability to work under pressure.

It must be noted that, even though a career as an anesthesiologist assistant sound interesting, it may not be possible. Not every state in the United States allows for anesthesiologist assistants in the workforce. In many cases, it is up to the state legislature to pass laws creating positions for anesthesiologist assistants. In addition, in many countries, there is not a position for anesthesiologist assistants either. The jobs performed by anesthesiologist assistants are performed by registered nurses instead.

An anesthesiologist assistant may help ensure patient comfort prior to a surgical procedure.
An anesthesiologist assistant may help ensure patient comfort prior to a surgical procedure.
Dee S.
Dee S.

Dee is a freelance writer based in Colorado. She has a B.A. in English Literature, as well as a law degree. Dee is especially interested in topics relating to medicine, legal issues, and home improvement, which are her specialty when contributing to wiseGEEK.

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Discussion Comments

candyquilt

@simrin-- No they're not the same. As far as I know, an anesthesiologist assistant does not have to be supervised by anyone to give anesthesia, but a nurse anesthetist does.

It's not that hard to be an anesthesiologist assistant. My friend is one and she studied in a medical program for four years and then did her masters in an anesthesiology program.

SteamLouis

Can someone tell me what is the difference between an anesthesiologist assistant and a registered nurse anesthetist?

Don't they essentially do the same thing?

And what do anesthesiologist assistants get a degree in?

ddljohn

I was going to ask, since when there are anesthesiologist assistants?

My wife is a retired anesthesiologist and during her time, there was no anesthesiologist assistant, just the anesthesiologist. Like the article said, if she needed assistance, it was taken care of by the registered nurse.

I'm suspecting that that's still the case for the most part in most states.

hlawandow

What are the states that do not allow anesthesiologist assistants in the workforce?

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