An anesthesia technician is a professional who works under the supervision of the anesthesiologist, their assistant and the anesthesia nurse to care for a patient before they go under anesthesia, while they’re in the operating room under anesthesia and while they recover from the effects of anesthesia. An anesthesia technician also works in areas such as the emergency room, the intensive care unit, the cath lab and other sites. They may be responsible for the maintenance of equipment, including sterilizing and cleaning equipment and assembling and testing equipment. They also order and stock equipment and take note of when equipment was serviced and inspected.
A person has to have graduated from high school or have a GED to become an anesthesia technician. If the person knows that they want to become an anesthesia technician while they’re still young, they can give themselves a bit of a head start by taking classes in the computer sciences and other courses necessary to their future career.
Some states also require an associate degree in health care. An anesthesia technician who’s certified through the American Society of Anesthesia Technologists and Technicians will probably find it easier to find work than a technician that lacks this certification. The technician should also be certified in both Basic and Advanced Cardiac Life Support.
There is no one, country-wide standard for what tasks an anesthesia technician can or can’t perform and the United States has only five schools that are accredited to teach courses necessary to become an anesthesia technician. Three of them are the Milwaukee Area Technical College, which offers an associate degree in anesthesia, Stony Brook University in New York, which offers a bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences and a bachelor’s degree in anesthesia technology and the Sanford Brown Institute, which offers an anesthesia technology program. Formal courses teach students how to analyze EKGs, pharmacology, medical terminology and how to manage bodily fluids, including blood.
A student can attend an anesthesia technician school for one year and receive a certification, or for two years and receive an associate or bachelor’s degree. But the best way to become an anesthesia technician is to find a hospital where the student can train on the job and obtain a license. These programs are often called “shadow programs,” because the student shadows a veteran technician as they perform their day to day duties.
The student can partner with a licensed anesthesia technician or preceptor who can show them “the ropes” and teach them about such things as how to treat a patient in an emergency room and operate various machines, including anesthesia machines, ventilators and bronchoscopes. They will also learn to insert catheters, cannulae and IV lines.