Frequently Asked Questions
The specific job descriptions and duties of AAs may differ according to geographic area and local practice. State law or board of medicine regulations or guidelines may further define the job descriptions of AAs. AAs practice under the direction of a qualified anesthesiologist.
The AA's functions include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Making the initial approach to a patient of any age in any setting to obtain a preliminary preanesthetic health history, perform an appropriate preanesthetic physical examination and record pertinent data in an organized and legible manner for review by an anesthesiologist. These activities help to define the patient's current physical status as it relates to the planned anesthetic.
- Performing or assisting in the conduct of diagnostic laboratory and related studies as appropriate, such as drawing arterial and venous blood samples.
- Establishing noninvasive and invasive routine monitoring modalities as delegated by the responsible anesthesiologist.
- AAs are permitted to perform regional anesthesia techniques.
- Assisting in the application and interpretation of advanced monitoring techniques such as pulmonary artery catheterization, electroencephalographic spectral analysis, echocardiography and evoked potentials.
- Assisting in inducing, maintaining and altering anesthesia levels, administering adjunctive treatment and providing continuity of anesthetic care into and during the postoperative recovery period.
- Assisting in the use of advanced life support techniques such as high frequency ventilation and intra-arterial cardiovascular assist devices.
- Assisting in making postanesthesia patient rounds by recording patient progress notes, compiling and recording case summaries and by transcribing standing and specific orders.
- Performing evaluation and treatment procedures essential to responding to life-threatening situations, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, on the basis of established protocols (basic life support, advance cardiac life support, and pediatric advanced life support).
- Assisting in the performance of duties in intensive care units, pain clinics and other settings, as appropriate.
- Training and supervising personnel in the calibration, trouble shooting and use of patient monitors.
- Performing delegated administrative duties in an anesthesiology practice or anesthesiology department in such areas as the management of personnel, supplies and devices.
- Assisting in the clinical instruction of others.
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) accredits AA training programs.
The National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants (NCCAA) was founded in July 1989 to develop and administer the certification process for AAs in the United States.
Graduates or senior students in an AA educational program that has been accredited by the CAAHEP may apply for initial certification. Initial certification is awarded to an AA who has successfully completed the Certifying Examination for Anesthesiologist Assistants administered by NCCAA in collaboration with the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). Certified AAs are permitted to use the designation AA-C to indicate that they are currently certified
Yes. In order to maintain certification after passing the initial examination, AAs must submit documentation to NCCAA that they have completed 40 hours of continuing medical education (CME) every two years. In addition, every six years they must pass the Examination for Continued Demonstration of Qualifications (CDQ).
The use of AAs within the anesthesia care team across the country is a dynamic and evolving process. Therefore, in order to get the latest and most accurate information, please contact your state board of medicine or the American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants.