Vol. 18 • Issue 5 • Page 7
President: Michael P. Merren, MSM, MMSc, PA-C, AA-C
Mean total income from primary employer for PAs in anesthesiology: $93,370
Estimated No. of PAs in anesthesia: About 0.3% of clinically practicing PAs who responded to the 2008 AAPA Census specialized in anesthesia, equating to about 222 PAs.
2 types of PA roles: Anesthesia PAs perform many duties working under an anesthesiologist, but two main groups have two clearly defined roles, Merren says. Most work in preoperative clinics; their duties include performing anesthesia-focused histories and physical exams, ordering consults and evaluating lab work. PAs in the second group work in the OR and deliver intraoperative anesthesia. These PAs have completed an 18- to 27-month anesthesia training program to become certified to deliver and bill for anesthesia services, Merren says. They perform many of the duties of the PAs in the first group but also may formulate anesthetic care plans, extubate patients and place IVs, arterial and central lines and pulmonary artery catheters.
Education options: Most training for preoperative PAs occurs on the job, Merren says. The seven programs for PAs seeking to perform intraoperative anesthesia are at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and an off-campus site in Houston, Emory University in Atlanta, South University in Savannah, Ga., Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale and Tampa, Fla., and the University of Missouri in Kansas City. The programs confer master's degrees in anesthesia, which allows PA graduates to sit for the anesthesia board exam.
Growth, but difficulties persist: Merren compares intraoperative anesthesia PAs to family practice PAs in the early years of the profession-the numbers are increasing to meet a need. The difficulties finding positions in the specialty are twofold, though. In addition to the need for an additional degree, Merren says, only certain hospitals will hire a PA anesthetist to deliver intraoperative aesthesia. Still, he says, "More and more preoperative anesthesia clinics are being staffed by PAs and NPs rather than by anesthesiologists. As a result of this shift in manpower, PAs and NPs are stepping up to meet the demand in these clinics."
Association reboot: After a period of dormancy, the Association of PAs in Anesthesia was revived about a year ago and now has 17 members. "We're very open to taking the time to discuss opportunities in the field of anesthesia with any PA," Merren says. "We're also very interested in helping PAs find job opportunities."
Web site: www.anesthesiapa.org
Sources: American Academy of Physician Assistants, Association of Physician Assistants in Anesthesia