With plenty of available positions for people with the right level of training and the appropriate certification, careers in health care are booming right now. From medical assistants to nursing assistants and patient care technicians, the options are varied. One of the most exciting of all health care positions is working as an anesthesia technician. Training at an anesthesia technician school takes about two years and prepares students to find work in this important health care field.
Anesthesia technician are trained professionals who work with doctors and nurses to prepare patients for surgery. The job outlook for all anesthesia technologists, which includes anesthesia technician, is positive with a greater than average growth in the number of job openings expected over the next ten years. Thousands of new jobs will be opening up, and only those candidates trained to do the jobs will get them. The median anesthesiology tech salary is $44,330 per year, so you can make a good living and enjoy job security.
This is a great career option, but how do you know if you have what it takes to be an anesthesia technician? You need to read on to find out what exactly these medical professionals do and what life is like after anesthesia tech training, with a real job in a hospital, medical center, or surgeon’s office. The reality of the job may be very different from what you expected.
What Exactly is an Anesthesia Technician Assistant?
An anesthesiologist is the doctor that administers anesthesia and other medications to patients undergoing surgery, and an anesthesia technician works with this doctor and others, helping to prep patients for procedures. Many positions for anesthesia technicians are in hospital operating rooms, where they work under anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists. They prepare, gather, and clean the equipment and all other supplies needed to administer anesthesia to patients prior to surgery.
The job of administering anesthesia to patients is extremely important and is a team effort. The anesthesiologist can’t do the job well without a dedicated assistant. To work in this field you have to have the right training, but also other less tangible qualities, like attention to detail. To help you figure out if this line of work is right for you, here are some examples of what life is like for an anesthesia technician:
An Anesthesia Technician Job is all about Preparation.
Are you the type that likes to be prepared? Do you enjoy making plans and sticking with them or making changes as necessary? If so, you would fit right in with the anesthesia team. The biggest part of the job, and what you’ll learn how to do at anesthesia technician school, is careful preparation. An anesthesia technician starts off the day by getting a list of procedures for the day and a list of supplies needed for prepping a patient for surgery. The anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist may have made that list, but it is up to the Anesthesia Technician to get it all ready and to make sure the entire team is prepared for the procedure ahead. These other professionals rely on the tech to get everything ready to go.
Anesthesia Technicians Work with Patients.
The work of an anesthesia tech isn’t solely focused on gathering and preparing equipment or performing any of the tasks the anesthesiologist requests while the patient is under anesthesia; an anesthesia tech works directly with patients before they go under. This is a crucial part of the job and it means being able to work comfortably with a patient that is probably scared and nervous about the surgery. You may need to take some vital signs and explain to the patient what will be happening next. The patient needs you to be kind, patient, and compassionate, and to have answers to questions.
Anesthesia Techs Check all the Details, and Recheck.
Attention to detail is a crucial skill that an anesthesia technician must have in order to do this job well. The safety of patients depends on it. During the Anesthesia Technology program you will learn all the details of the job, but paying attention to those details is up to you. The other members of the team will rely on you to be checking and rechecking the details. Working in this field you will be responsible for checking the equipment used to deliver and monitor anesthesia. You may have to calibrate the equipment before each surgery, and then check it again before the procedure to make sure everything is working as it should.
An Anesthesia Technician Work Doesn’t End with Surgery Prep.
Preparing for surgery is a huge part of this job, but it isn’t where the duties end for an anesthesia tech. Anesthesia levels in the patient must be monitored throughout a procedure (monitored by the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist) to make sure enough is being administered, but not too much. It is a careful and important balance that can mean the difference between a patient being in pain or being comfortable.
You may be required to be with the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist’s assistant throughout the duration of a surgical procedure, helping to monitor vital signs and other measures that show how a patient is responding to the anesthesia.
After-Surgery Duties are Important for the Anesthesia Technician Assistant.
While the anesthesiologist or nurse is done after surgery is complete, your work will not yet be finished. As the anesthesia tech it is your role to take care of all the anesthesia supplies and equipment. This means cleaning and sterilizing equipment and putting it back where it belongs, refilling medicines, and preparing the operating room for the next procedure.
The anesthesia technician is occasionally responsible for staying with the patient as he or she wakes up and the anesthesia begins to wear off. You not only help to make the patient more comfortable, but monitor vital signs and alert a nurse if something has gone wrong.
The Anesthesia Technician Must Be Ready for Changes.
One of many anesthesiologist technician requirements is the ability to be flexible. You will receive a schedule for the day of procedures and surgeries, and before each one you will have a list of supplies to prep, but these things change, on an almost daily basis. Planning is crucial in this job, but so is being able to change plans. Things can go wrong during surgery and complications may arise that have to be addressed to help the patient.
As an anesthesia tech you must be ready to assist the doctors and nurses in changing anesthesia levels or making other adjustments. Your set schedule for a particular day is likely to be flexible and changing so that you may find yourself hurrying from one procedure to another with no time for breaks.
Anesthesia Technicians Do Not Have Set Hours.
Within a given work day, an anesthesia tech may have to be flexible and account for changes to the schedule, but the total hours are usually rigid. Most anesthesia technicians can work 40-hour weeks with irregular schedules. This is because surgical procedures do not always follow a set schedule. Therefore, the anesthesia tech might need to work overtime in a moment’s notice. Weekends, holidays and various shifts are needed to be covered. Hospital operating rooms do not shut down for holidays and need constant coverage to ensure the safety of the patient, which is the number one priority.
Anesthesia Technician Face Emotional Ups and Downs.
Not all surgeries are successful; some may even end in the death of a patient. This can be tough to handle, and as an anesthesia tech you will have to learn to ride the emotional roller coaster of patient care. The goal of the entire surgical team is to have a successful procedure, but things don’t always go according to plan and lives cannot always be saved. This reality is something that you will have to face working in this field. Knowing that patients may die in front of you is important before you make the choice to work in health care and to assist in surgeries.
These examples of what life is like for an anesthesia technician should give you a better picture of what this career has in store for you. If you can make it through the training, get certified, and find a position, you will enjoy a career that is steady, lucrative, and that makes a difference in the lives of patients every day. What you will do while being on this job matters.
To get into this exciting health care field, you need to start with the right training. The Anesthesia Technology program at City College is a two-year associate’s degree program that is recognized by the American Society of Anesthesia Technologists and Technicians as an approved program. It is this professional organization that administers the test for certification, so passing the City College program will prepare you to pass the test and become certified and eligible for any anesthesia technician position.