Anesthetic Assistants

Registered Nurses have been assisting the anesthesiologist in varying degrees since the mid to late 1800's.

The role of the Anesthetic Assistant is gaining popularity in light of changes in the Standards of Practice issued by the Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society. Read more about the organization in the CAS newsletter.

Anesthetic Assistant courses are open to Registered Nurses and Respiratory Therapists.

As part of a group effort between the interested stakeholders (RTs, Perianesthesia nurses and perioperative nurses), and the Canadian Anesthesia Society, this role has been created and is now implemented in many facilities across Canada. We believe that both the RN and the RT can participate in providing safe delivery of anesthetics as part of the anesthetic team.

Scope of Practice Expanded Perioperative Nursing Practice

The perioperative Registered Nurse practices expanded perioperative nursing in anesthesia by rendering assistance to the anesthesiologist to facilitate quality care of patients undergoing anesthetic procedures. The increasing complexity of anesthesia provides the perioperative Registered Nurse who has expanded perioperative education with the opportunity to collaborate with the anesthesiologist in clinical, technological, and administrative aspects of anesthetic care during the preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative phases of anesthesia.

Anesthesia Assistant Programs in Canada
Opportunities available for Perioperative Registered Nurses

There are currently 3 programs offered in Canada that provide the academic education and clinical experience required to function as an Anesthesia Assistant.

Cariboo College (British Columbia)
Offers a post-graduate program for qualified Registered Nurses. The program consists of a didactic component offered through a distance format and a 12 - 16 week full-time clinical component. Further information about this program may be obtained at Cariboo College's website.

Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences (Ontario)
Offers a post-graduate program for qualified Registered Nurses or Registered Respiratory Therapists. Further information about this program may be obtained at the Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences website.

Fanshawe College - Ontario
The Anesthesia Assistant Ontario College Graduate Certificate program is a 38 week program that trains students to become a valuable member of the anesthesia care team. This program offers a flexible delivery format allowing students to attend classes one day each week during the first two terms. The Anesthesia Assistant is a specially trained, health professional that participates in the care of the surgical patient during general, regional, or local anesthesia under the immediate supervision of an anesthesiologist.

Thompson Rivers University - Open Learning (TRU-OL)
This Post-Diploma Program is designed to provide Respiratory Therapists or Registered Nurses with critical care experience with the knowledge and clinical skills required to fulfill the designated role of an Anesthesia Assistant as defined and approved by the Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society (CAS). The program consists of a theory portion and a clinical practicum. The theory portion of the program is offered through an OL Faculty Member-supported distance study format. The 16 week clinical practicum is held in a hospital environment under the supervision of an Anesthetist with support of a TRU-based OL Faculty Member, following criteria developed by TRU.

News and Information

Visit the Canadian Anesthetic Society Website at http://www.cas.ca/