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Working as an Anesthesiologist Assistant

What Does an Anesthesiologist Assistant Do

Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine on teams with physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare workers. They examine, diagnose, and treat patients.

Duties

Physician assistants typically do the following:

  • Take or review patients’ medical histories
  • Examine patients
  • Order and interpret diagnostic tests, such as x rays or blood tests
  • Diagnose a patient’s injury or illness
  • Give treatment, such as setting broken bones and immunizing patients
  • Educate and counsel patients and their families—for example, answering questions about how to care for a child with asthma
  • Prescribe medicine
  • Assess and record a patient’s progress
  • Research the latest treatments to ensure the quality of patient care
  • Conduct or participate in outreach programs; talking to groups about managing diseases and promoting wellness

Physician assistants work on teams with physicians or surgeons and other healthcare workers. Their specific duties and the extent to which they must be supervised by physicians or surgeons differ from state to state.

Physician assistants work in all areas of medicine, including primary care and family medicine, emergency medicine, surgery, and psychiatry. The work of physician assistants depends in large part on their specialty or the type of medical practice where they work. For example, a physician assistant working in surgery may close incisions and provide care before, during, and after the operation. A physician assistant working in pediatrics may examine a child and give routine vaccinations.

In some areas, especially rural and medically underserved communities, physician assistants may be the primary care providers at clinics where a physician is present only 1 or 2 days per week. In these locations, physician assistants collaborate with the physician as needed and as required by law.

Some physician assistants make house calls or visit nursing homes to treat patients.

Physician assistants are different from medical assistants. Medical assistants do routine clinical and clerical tasks and they do not practice medicine.

How To Become an Anesthesiologist Assistant

Physician assistants typically need a master’s degree from an accredited educational program. Earning that degree usually takes at least 2 years of full-time postgraduate study. All states require physician assistants to be licensed.

Education

Most applicants to physician assistant education programs already have a bachelor’s degree and some healthcare-related work experience. Although admissions requirements vary from program to program, most programs require 2 to 4 years of undergraduate coursework with a focus in science. Many applicants already have experience as registered nurses or as EMTs and paramedics before they apply to a physician assistant program.

Physician assistant education programs usually take at least 2 years of full-time study. About 200 education programs were accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) in 2014. Almost all of these accredited programs offer a master’s degree.

Physician assistant education includes classroom and laboratory instruction in subjects such as pathology, human anatomy, physiology, clinical medicine, pharmacology, physical diagnosis, and medical ethics. The programs also include supervised clinical training in several areas, including family medicine, internal medicine, emergency medicine, and pediatrics.

Sometimes students serve in one or more clinical rotations in these areas under the supervision of a physician who is looking to hire a physician assistant. In this way, clinical rotations may lead to permanent employment.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states and the District of Columbia require physician assistants to be licensed. To become licensed, candidates must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). A physician assistant who passes the exam may use the credential “Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C).”

To keep their certification, physician assistants must complete 100 hours of continuing education every 2 years. The recertification exam is required every 10 years.

In addition, state licensure laws require physician assistants to hold an agreement with a supervising physician. Although the physician does not need to be onsite at all times, collaboration between physicians and physician assistants is required for practice.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Physician assistants must explain complex medical issues in a way that patients can understand. They must also effectively communicate with doctors and other healthcare workers to ensure that they provide the best possible patient care.

Compassion. Physician assistants deal with patients who are sick or injured and may be in extreme pain or distress. They must be able to treat patients and their families with compassion and understanding.

Detail oriented. Physician assistants should be observant and have a strong ability to focus when evaluating and treating patients.

Emotional stability. Physician assistants, particularly those working in surgery or emergency medicine, should be able to work well under pressure. They must remain calm in stressful situations in order to provide quality care.

Problem-solving skills. Physician assistants need to evaluate patients’ symptoms and administer the appropriate treatments. They must be diligent when investigating complicated medical issues so that they can determine the best course of treatment for each patient.

Advancement

Some physician assistants pursue additional education in a specialty. Postgraduate educational programs are available in areas such as emergency medicine and psychiatry. To enter one of these programs, a physician assistant must be a graduate of an accredited program and be certified by the NCCPA.

As they gain greater clinical knowledge and experience, physician assistants can earn new responsibilities and higher wages. For example, experienced physician assistants may supervise other staff and physician assistant students or they may become an executive leader of a healthcare organization.

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Average Salary$169,228
Job Growth Rate31%

Average Salary for an Anesthesiologist Assistant

Anesthesiologist Assistants in America make an average salary of $169,228 per year or $81 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $350,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $81,000 per year.
Average Salary
$169,228

Best Paying Cities

City
Average Salary
Milwaukee, WI
Salary Range141k - 311k$210k$210,112
Buffalo, NY
Salary Range129k - 297k$196k$196,127
Salt Lake City, UT
Salary Range129k - 286k$192k$192,278
Atlanta, GA
Salary Range123k - 290k$190k$189,663
Washington, DC
Salary Range125k - 282k$188k$188,058
Chicago, IL
Salary Range123k - 272k$184k$183,677
$100k
$311k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Anesthesiologist Assistant
Anesthesiologist Assistant
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
11/22/2020
11/22/2020
$145,50611/22/2020
$145,506
Anesthesiologist Assistant
Anesthesiologist Assistant
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
07/06/2020
07/06/2020
$145,50607/06/2020
$145,506
Anesthesiologist Assistant
Anesthesiologist Assistant
Anesthesiologist Associates, P.A.
Anesthesiologist Associates, P.A.
07/13/2019
07/13/2019
$130,43807/13/2019
$130,438
Anesthesiologist Assistant
Anesthesiologist Assistant
Anesthesiologist Associates, P.A.
Anesthesiologist Associates, P.A.
07/01/2019
07/01/2019
$130,43807/01/2019
$130,438
Anesthesiologist Assistant
Anesthesiologist Assistant
U.S. Anesthesia Partners of Florida, Inc.
U.S. Anesthesia Partners of Florida, Inc.
05/13/2019
05/13/2019
$93,60005/13/2019
$93,600
See More Recent Salaries

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Anesthesiologist Assistant Demographics

Gender

female

47.9 %

male

44.1 %

unknown

8.1 %

Ethnicity

White

71.0 %

Hispanic or Latino

10.8 %

Asian

10.4 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

41.7 %

Chinese

16.7 %

Japanese

16.7 %
See More Demographics

Anesthesiologist Assistant Education

Majors

Medicine
18.3 %
Nursing
17.3 %
Biology
12.5 %

Degrees

Bachelors

35.8 %

Masters

20.2 %

Doctorate

15.6 %

Top Colleges for Anesthesiologist Assistants

1. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

2. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

3. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

4. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Public

In-State Tuition
$15,262
Enrollment
30,079

5. SUNY Stony Brook

Stony Brook, NY • Public

In-State Tuition
$9,625
Enrollment
17,407

6. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339

7. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

8. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN • Public

In-State Tuition
$14,760
Enrollment
31,451

9. Georgetown University

Washington, DC • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,104
Enrollment
7,089

10. Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,740
Enrollment
5,567
See More Education Info
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Top Skills For an Anesthesiologist Assistant

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 18.8% of anesthesiologist assistants listed ob on their resume, but soft skills such as emotional stability and problem-solving skills are important as well.

Best States For an Anesthesiologist Assistant

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as an anesthesiologist assistant. The best states for people in this position are North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. Anesthesiologist assistants make the most in North Dakota with an average salary of $176,879. Whereas in Minnesota and Nebraska, they would average $172,721 and $167,175, respectively. While anesthesiologist assistants would only make an average of $164,908 in Wisconsin, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. North Dakota

Total Anesthesiologist Assistant Jobs:
2
Highest 10% Earn:
$267,000
Location Quotient:
1.45
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Wisconsin

Total Anesthesiologist Assistant Jobs:
15
Highest 10% Earn:
$259,000
Location Quotient:
1.66
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Nebraska

Total Anesthesiologist Assistant Jobs:
3
Highest 10% Earn:
$261,000
Location Quotient:
1.15
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Anesthesiologist Assistant Employers

1. Mount Sinai Medical Center
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$246,970
Anesthesiologist Assistants Hired: 
6+
2. Methodist Hospitals
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$250,594
Anesthesiologist Assistants Hired: 
4+
3. Passaic Beth Israel Hospital
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$182,826
Anesthesiologist Assistants Hired: 
3+
4. St. Johns Hospital
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$235,227
Anesthesiologist Assistants Hired: 
3+
5. Mount Sinai Health System
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$260,086
Anesthesiologist Assistants Hired: 
2+
6. New York University
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$130,563
Anesthesiologist Assistants Hired: 
2+
Updated October 2, 2020