The typical anesthesiologist assistant salary is between $95,000 to $120,000 per year, while a regular physician assistant salary is around $70,000 per year. But, the high salary that an anesthesiologist assistant command is not surprising – in fact, it is well-deserved.
Anesthesiologist assistant first obtains a degree; after that they successfully complete pre-medical courses so that he can become eligible. While training, they spend six semesters training rigorously in academics and clinical procedures.
They receive surgical rotation experience in ambulatory, cardiothoracic, general, pediatrics, neurosurgery, and other surgical processes. Also, they are trained on different types of anesthesia – epidural, spinal, general and peripheral nerve blockade. It is only after they successfully complete all this training that they are awarded certification by the National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants (NCCAA).
The story does not end there. Anesthesiologist assistants must participate in continuing education programs to maintain their certificate. They work in many life-threatening situations and help in saving the patient’s life. So, the anesthesiologist assistant salary of $120,000 per year is absolutely well-deserved.
Why is the anesthesiologist assistant salary so high?
Well, the one line answer to that would be that there’s a tremendous shortage of anesthesiologist assistants, and here are the reasons why:
- The number of interventional procedures has increased dramatically. Today, many treatments are non-invasive, a factor that has contributed to the increase in the number of procedures. More procedures mean call for more anesthesia care.
- The usage of offsite anesthesia is growing. 10% of anesthesia cases happen outside of the operating room. For example, anesthesia is administered even in MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imagery) procedures when the patient cannot hold still.
- Medical technology is progressing at a rapid pace. Many surgical procedures that once required hospital stay are performed in an hour and the patient is out of the hospital the same day. This has increased the demand for surgeries and therefore, anesthesiologists and their assistants.
- America’s population is aging. Medical conditions set in with age and there comes a time in everyone’s life when one must go under the knife. As surgeries are increasing, so is the demand for anesthesiologists and their assistants.
- More than anything else, an anesthesiologist assistant is a skilled professional. Even a slight mistake on his part can become a question of life and death. It is indeed a critical and important profession.
These are the factors that are contributing to the increasing demand for anesthesiologist assistants and their increasing demand is pumping up their salary.
What does the anesthesiologist assistant do to deserve such a high salary? And, how can they further increase their salary?
The anesthesiologist assistant salary depends on their skills and therefore before analyzing their salary, it is important to know their skills. Here are some facts about the profession, along with the reasons why the anesthesiologist assistant salary is high:
- An anesthesiologist assistant administers anesthesia under the medical supervision of an anesthesiologist.
- They are trained to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Advance Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) – these are emergency procedures that save lives. He can administer such procedures even when the anesthesiologist is not around.
- They can even plan and schedule anesthesia administration after examining patients, reviewing their medical record and interviewing them. They can order pre-operative evaluations and medications after consulting with the anesthesiologist.
- They are a highly skilled professional. They ensure that the anesthesia is administered as per standards laid down by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). They are also responsible for interpreting data derived from devices and then acting on their judgment. They also provide critical inputs to their anesthesiologist.
- While administering anesthesia, the assistant takes into account respiratory, cardiovascular and metabolic factors and then makes a decision. If required, he calls the anesthesiologist if he notices an unexpected perioperative event, or at any other time.
- An assistant can administer vasoactive and anesthetic drugs, blood and other treatments as suggested by the anesthesiologist.
- Anesthesiologist assistants are even trained to administer acute pain management procedures and ventilator support, which are post-operative procedures.
- They are well knowledgeable about all anesthetic drugs, techniques and procedures.
- They possess excellent communicational skills. They have to interpret complex data, understand the patient’s condition, and then communicate with the supervising anesthesiologist.
- They may also participate in teaching programs or in research studies as suggested by his anesthesiologist.
- Finally, anesthesiologist assistants are excellent thinkers and communicators – they listen attentively, convey information efficiently, employs logic and reasoning to arrive at practical solutions, monitors critical situations, acts in quick time and is always in control of themselves and the situation. It is a very demanding, but noble job.
The anesthesiologist assistant salary is fixed based on his skill and experience. A brand new graduate can expect to start at anything between $95,000 and $120,000 per year, plus benefits, plus on-call considerations. This number holds good for a 40-hour week. The pay starts rising with experience and an assistant can expect a 5% to 15% increment after being employed for 1-2 years. These figures are comparable to a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) salary.
Anesthesiologist assistants gradually climb up higher on the career ladder as they gain experience. Large hospitals that have access to unlimited funds pay higher salaries. However, the demand for them is very high across all healthcare institutions and as such, an anesthesiologist assistant’s career is very rewarding and fulfilling.