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Overview of Anesthesiologist Assistant Degree Program

Majors Overview March 24, 2013

Physicians specializing in anesthesiology typically rely on assistance from professionals called anesthesiologist assistants. There is a burgeoning demand for these professionals who are expected to have a strong job growth in the foreseeable future.

Anesthesiology Master Degree

This graduate degree program is also referred to as an anesthesiologist assistant program (A.A.). The National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants (NCCAA) administers the anesthesiologist assistant certification examination to students who have completed the anesthesiologist assistant program.

During the 1960s, there was an anesthesiologist staffing shortage, so they had to institute the A.A. programs. Since then, anesthesiologist assistant programs have grown, and the specialty has gained wider acceptance. Now days, anesthesiologist assistants can practice anesthesiology in several states, by virtue of either the discretionary authority of a doctor or state law.

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Educational Programs (CAAHEP) accredited the A.A. programs. Employers hire graduates to be part of an anesthesiology team; in certain instances, they are employed as practicing anesthesiology professionals supervised by a physician. These professionals are required to keep themselves abreast of advances in drugs used in anesthesiology as well as relevant medical technology.

Students are required to experience both clinical and didactic instruction. Typically, students will take the majority of their coursework during the first year, and spend some time in a clinical environment. Students will log more clinical hours in subsequent years.

Educational Requirements

Students who want to be accepted into the anesthesiologist assistant programs need to possess an undergraduate degree. Also, individuals will need to submit resume, personal statement, letters of recommendation, and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores; in some instances, verification of shadowing experience. A majority of programs recommend proficiencies in statistics, mathematics, chemistry, and biology. Premedical prerequisites are required in some programs.

Program Coursework

Coursework usually includes advanced instruction in anesthetic science, physics, pharmacology, physiology, and anatomy. Anesthesiologist assistant program will cover the following courses:

•Physiology simulation
•Instrumentation
•Patient monitoring
•Physiology
•Anatomy for Anesthesiology

Salary Information and Career Outlook

Similar to other medical professions, employment for anesthesiologist assistant is expected to grow faster than the national average during 2008 to 2018. According to the American Medical Association, an anesthesiologist assistant average annual salary is between $95,000 and $120,000 for individuals who have just entered the field. Anesthesiologist assistants who are experienced will have salaries ranging between $160,000 and $180,000.

Continuing Education

Eventually, students who work in this field will pursue an undergraduate degree or even a doctoral degree. Students who want to become an anesthesiologist will need to complete a residency in anesthesiology along with attending medical school.

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