If you are thinking of a career in healthcare, but find the number of years spent in medical school and nursing school as too daunting, then consider being an anesthesia technician. It is a solid healthcare career path that doesn’t require spending a lot of time buried in books, attending long classes, or doing numerous clinical internships before being able to practice the profession. An anesthesia technician is also considered an allied healthcare professional that plays a critical role in patient care.
Crucial Job Description
In the operating room, the surgical team is comprised of more than just the surgeon, surgical assistants, operating room nurses, and anesthesiologist; but an anesthesia technician also plays a vital part in making sure the procedure goes on smoothly, so the patient can receive the best possible care. An anesthesia technician works closely with the anesthesiologist. He is responsible for the many background technical details for all the stages of surgery (pre, during, and post operation), so the anesthesia doctor can focus fully on the patient.
An anesthesia technician is responsible for preparing, sanitizing, and maintaining equipment. He also manages the operating room supply inventory and prepares the drugs as instructed by the anesthesiologist. He also hooks up the equipment, assists with IVs and airway devices, and monitors patients while under sedation in the operating room. On top of that, he helps the anesthesiologist move and care for the patient during the post-operative phase.
Strict Standards of a High Pressure Job
The pressure of the job can be immense because the environment is highly stressful, coupled with the fact that it deals with details that can spell the difference between life and death. This profession can’t be decided on whim because there are very specific requirements and parameters that must be complied with.
There can be no shortcuts when it comes to dealing with human life, so a very rigorous training program must be undertaken by anyone who wants to be an anesthesia technician. After all, no one wants to be in the hands of an inept and careless healthcare worker when he is lying down exposed and vulnerable on the operating table.
Before deciding that you will undergo training to be a certified anesthesia assistant, you have to first meet these basic requirements. You must be at least a high school graduate or its equivalent (think: home school and GED accreditation for those not in formal schooling). You must be proficient in English, so you can easily understand all the technical materials. More importantly, strong communication skills are essential, so you can connect easily with other team members and the patient under your care.
In addition, check if you posses these vital skills: works well under pressure, performs great as team player, posses basic computer skills, super detail oriented, and the like. All these qualities determine if you as an anesthesia worker will not crack under pressure while on the job. Going down this path is not for the faint of heart because it requires memorization of technical terms, teamwork, adeptness at handling equipment, and balancing stress under a chaotic, high-pressured environment.
Certification, though voluntary, is an essential requirement for career advancement and for proving that you have the necessary skills to be in this field. You can only take the certification if you have obtained an entry-level job as an anesthesia technician for at least two years; or if you have finished an associate anesthesia degree program, usually lasting two year, in an accredited program. Fulfilling these requirements is on top of satisfying the preliminary requirements.
There are two types of certifications according to the American Society of Anesthesiology Technologists and Technicians (ASATT)—one is the anesthesia technician certification and the other one is the more stringent anesthesia technologist certification, which you can only take if you are already a certified anesthesia technician. These two exams are offered by this organization, which provides the following:
• The test is a formal recognition of skilled technicians and technologists.
• Exams encourage personal and professional growth.
• The certificates establish a national standard of knowledge.
Maintaining the “Cer.A.T.”
After completing two years of work or schooling, submit an application to sit for the exam so you can finally be a certified anesthesia technician (Cer. A.T.) working in your hospital. Go to the ASATT website and download the handbook, which contains all the necessary information from documentation requirements, fees, testing dates, and topics covered.
Notice for exam eligibility will arrive within two weeks after lodging the application. The notice is good for 90 days, so be sure to schedule your exam at the testing site nearest you within that timeframe. Failure to comply will mean loss of your right to take the exam and all the corresponding application fees you paid. Study and review all the items covered in the handbook before the exam, so you can proudly use the designated title “Cer.A.T.” after your name.
Maintain this title by being in good standing, which you can achieve by working well in the hospital, continuing your education, and taking the necessary courses for re-certification. This certification is only valid for two years. Within this two years, twenty hours worth of continuing education classes must be taken in order to get re-certified.
Moving Up with the “Cer. A.T.T.”
If you want to take it up a notch, take your certification exam for being an anesthesia technologist. Submit this application while your Cer.A.T is still valid. There is another downloadable book for this technologist exam on the ASATT website. Passing this particular exam gives you the privilege of using the “Cer.A.TT.” designation.
Remember that you may be able to gain access to entry-level work as an anesthesia technician without any certification. However, in order to move up the career ladder and increase your pay grade, you have to invest in yourself by taking these certifications. Human lives are in your hands, so don’t take your anesthesia technician studies and responsibilities lightly.