The basic job of an Anesthesia Technician (AT) is to assist an anesthesiologist. But this simple description belies the fact that ATs have a wealth of expertise and knowledge.
One way that ATs demonstrate their know-how is by getting certified. This means passing the Technologist Certification Examination (which, by the way, can also lead to the plum AT jobs).
The American Society of Anesthesia Technologists and Technicians breaks down the exam into six “major domains,” or categories. Here’s an overview of these categories. They will give you an idea of what you can expect to learn in a good Anesthesia Technician program — and perhaps a taste of what happens on the job.
Equipment, Instrumentation, and Technology.
It can be pretty daunting to consider all the devices used in anesthesiology, but just like anything else it starts to get a little clearer when you break it down. In this case, almost all the equipment falls into one of three categories: delivery systems, airway equipment and monitoring devices.
An anesthetic delivery system is just what it sounds like: how the gas gets to the patient. The airway equipment are the devices that help the patient breath, such as tubes or face masks. Finally, the monitoring devices track how the patient is doing by measuring his or her pulse, blood pressure and the like.
Many AT students find this the most interesting part of the program — learning all about human anatomy and physiology. The certification exam covers the major systems of the human body: cardiovascular, pulmonary, nervous, musculoskeletal, endocrine and gastrointestinal. And it covers the pathophysiology of these systems — that is, common diseases and how they might affect the administration of anesthesia.
ATs need to know the general principles of pharmacology — meaning the different types of drugs and how they affect the human body. And of course there’s special emphasis on anesthesia — the various categories, how they’re administered and how they interact with each other.
Basic Principles of Anesthesia.
This vague-sounding category refers to what happens before, during and after the administration of anesthesia. It means important steps like preparing and positioning the patient, interpreting data from monitoring devices and sterilizing the equipment after the procedure.
Advanced Principles of Anesthesia.
Here’s the really detailed information, such as specific procedures for particular systems, organs or extremities. These principles include the codes that you’ll encounter during a procedure.
Of course every part of the exam is important. But this part is how ATs show that they’re good at their job. Professional ATs pay attention to quality control, assuring the best treatment for the patient. They check the packaging to ensure that the medications are uncontaminated and haven’t expired. They understand the scope of their practice, meaning where their responsibilities begin and end. They’re up on the latest regulations and they have a solid grasp of the ethics of their job.
If this seems like a lot to know, it’s because it is! But again, a good Anesthesia Technology program will help you stay on top of all this information — and get you ready for the certification exam. If you want to learn how you can get started on your new career as an AT, click here now!
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