Anesthesia assistants, also known as anesthesiologist assistants, work under the supervision and medical direction of licensed anesthesiologists. They assist anesthesiologists who administer a general or local anesthetic to the patients. These assistants gather patient health history and other relevant medical information prior to the procedure, and they may order preoperative evaluations for patients. Other tasks performed by anesthesia assistants include establishing multi-parameter patient monitoring prior to the procedure, monitoring patients' vital signs, and helping anesthesiologists monitor patients' heart rhythm, body temperature, level of consciousness, blood pressure and amount of oxygen in the blood.
Anesthesia assistants must be able to use the equipment and tools used for anesthetic procedures, to perform CPR and ACLS (Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support) in emergency situations, and to perform airway interventions and intubation of the trachea. They need to administer treatment and medication to patients as directed by supervising anesthesiologists in a timely and accurate manner. Additionally, anesthesia assistants must be able to perform regular maintenance on anesthetic equipment and instruments in accordance with manufacturers’ manuals and instructions.
Most employers require that candidates have completed post-baccalaureate degree in anesthesiologist assisting. A master's degree in health science may be beneficial. Generally, employers often prefer candidates who have certification through the National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants (NCCAA). Depending on where they work, anesthesia assistants may be required to obtain state licensure.