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Anesthesiologist Assistants Outline

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jcole2 View Drop Down

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    Posted: 20 Dec 2010 at 2:47pm

Anesthesiologist Assistants

Occupational Description

The anesthesiologist assistant (AA) functions as a specialty physician assistant under the direction of a licensed and qualified anesthesiologist, principally in medical centers. The anesthesiologist assistant assists the anesthesiologist in developing and implementing the anesthesia care plan. The specific job descriptions and duties of anesthesiologist assistants may differ according to geographic area and local practice.

  • Collecting preoperative data, such as taking an appropriate health history
  • Performing various preoperative tasks
  • Performing airway management and drug administration
  • Administering supportive therapy, for example, with intravenous fluids and cardiovascular drugs
  • Adjusting anesthetic levels on a minute-to-minute basis
  • Providing recovery room care
  • Functioning in the intensive care unit
  • Assisting in the clinical instruction of others

Personal Skills & Characteristics

Anesthesiologist assistants must have a capacity to understand and apply scientific findings, the skill to manipulate delicate instruments, the ability to think critically, and be able to follow directions. Most importantly, they should know how to deal with all kinds of people and have a sincere desire to help those needing care and attention.

Anesthesiologist Assistants stress the team approach to patient care as defined by the American Society of Anesthesiologists. The members of the Anesthesia Care Team bring unique skills to the group and work synergistically to provide the best possible anesthesia care for the patient.


Anesthesiologist assistants work as members of the anesthesia care team in any locale where they may be appropriately directed by legally responsible anesthesiologists. Experience has been that AAs are most commonly employed in larger facilities that perform procedures such as cardiac surgery, neurosurgery, and trauma care, given the training in extensive patient monitoring devices and complex patients and procedures emphasized in AA educational programs. However, anesthesiologist assistants are used in hospitals of all sizes and assist anesthesiologists in a variety of settings and for a wide range of procedures.


Starting salaries for 2006 graduates are $95,000 up to $120,000 for the 40-hour work week plus benefits and consideration of on-call activity. The high end of the salary range is around $160,000 to $180,000 for experienced anesthetists.

Job Outlook

Career growth for anesthesiologist assistants should be strong in the next decade. The position of anesthesiologist’s assistant is relatively new; thus, there is a greater demand than supply.

Planning Ahead

The Career Center has a team of pre-health counselors to help students with a preparation and application timeline that fits their circumstances. Appointments with a pre-health counselor may be scheduled online.

Educational Requirements

There are currently seven (7) anesthesiologist assistant programs in the United States that offer a master’s of science or a master’s of health science in anesthesia. The programs range from 2-3 years of post-baccalaureate study. To see a list of all programs, visit the AnestaWeb's website:

Admissions requirements vary depending on the program. Generally programs look for general science preparation (biology, chemistry, physics) and some mathematics background. Speak with a Pre-Health Advisor at LS&A Academic Advising or visit the individual schools’ websites for more information.

Preparation Beyond The Classroom

Many programs prefer or require experience or exposure to the field of anesthesia, as well as exposure to the health field in general. To contact alumni anesthesiologists, you may wish to tap into the Alumni Networks at:

Application Process Overview

The application varies depending on the individual program. See each program’s website for more in-depth information about application procedures:

Standardized Tests

Required standardized tests vary by program. Most programs require either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). Check with the individual program for more information.

Medical College Admission Test

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized, multiple-choice examination designed to assess problem solving, critical thinking, and writing skills in addition to the examinee’s knowledge of science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine. Scores are reported in each of the following areas: Verbal Reasoning, Physical Sciences, Writing Sample, and Biological Sciences.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

The General Test measures analytical writing, verbal, and quantitative skills that have been acquired over a long period of time and that are not related to any specific field of study.

Reference Letters

Letters of reference are necessary from individuals who know applicants well and can comment on their suitability and preparation for a health care career and academic preparation. Such individuals might include academicians, physicians, anesthesiologists or other health care providers.

The Career Center’s Reference Letter Service (RLS) offers University of Michigan students and alumni/ae the opportunity to have letters of reference on file to use in support of their employment and continuing education efforts. Open a reference letter file with the RLS.

Personal Statement Information

Some programs may require a personal statement or a statement of objectives. Check individual program websites for more information.

A short autobiographical essay should state your reasons for wanting to become an anesthesiologist assistant and emphasize the applicant’s civic, social and school activities, achievements, and work history. If you need assistance getting started on your personal statement or would welcome feedback on your draft, please schedule an advising appointment at The Career Center.

Resources To Learn More

Links to Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement. General information on Anesthesiologist Assistant careers is available from:

National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants
PO Box 15519
Atlanta, GA 30333-0519

General resource for anesthesiologist assistants (job postings, certification, directory)


3200 Student Activities Building
515 E. Jefferson
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1316
(734) 764-7460
Copyright © 2010 The Career Center
Division of Student Affairs
Regents of the University of Michigan


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