Anesthesia Assistants Update
(Posted April 30, 2006)
The reality of formally-trained Anesthesia Assistants (AA) practicing in Canadian operating rooms is close at hand. Following the launch of the first AA program in Canada by the Michener Institute, a number of other educational institutions, including Fanshawe College in London, have plans to begin additional programs in the near future.
There are more than 30 students enrolled in the Michener Institute’s Basic AA program and 11 were accepted into the Advanced program. The Advanced AA program provides training in regional and general anesthetic techniques, considerations and crisis management. This is facilitated by experienced anesthesiologists whom guide the case-based learning and high-fidelity simulation. Graduates will hold an Anesthesia Assistant – Advanced Graduate Certificate upon program completion.
In support of this evolving role, the Canadian Anesthesiologists’ Society (CAS) is continuing to address the addition of AAs as part of an anesthesia team. At a CAS board meeting this past February, two relevant motions were passed:
- That the CAS Board recommend the development of the role of anesthesia assistants as specially trained health professionals to assist an anesthesiologist in the care of patients”
- That the scope of the role of anesthesia assistants be developed in a position paper by the end of April.
The first motion expresses general support for the development of AAs in Canada. In my opinion, the second is of greater significance and I look forward with optimism that the CAS position supports a scope of practice which is permissive and progressive.
Chair, Anesthesia Respiratory Therapist Association of Ontario