An anesthesia technician is a health-care professional who works alongside anesthesiologists, nurses, and surgeons in an operating room. He or she prepares the materials and supplies that the team will need to sedate the patient during a procedure. In addition, an anesthesia technician helps monitor equipment that tracks vital signs and brain activity to make sure the patient is kept stable and as comfortable as possible. Most technicians are employed by general hospitals and public surgical centers, though some work for private doctors and emergency response services.
One of the main responsibilities of an anesthesia technician is to ensure the anesthesiologist has all the necessary supplies before surgery. He or she finds sterile masks, gloves, intravenous (IV) lines and pouches, and proper amounts of the anesthetic to be used. A technician with the appropriate training may be allowed to set up IV equipment and explain to the patient why and how anesthesia will be provided.
During surgery, an anesthesia technician keeps a careful eye on monitoring equipment. If the patients' pulse, heart rate, or breathing rate becomes abnormal, he or she informs the surgical team so the proper measures can be taken. Additionally, if the patient starts to wake up or show signs of pain, the technician can assist the anesthesiologist in re-administering a set amount of the medication. The technician usually stays in the room with the patient after a procedure is completed to make sure the anesthesia wears off correctly and that other complications do not arise.
A person who is interested in becoming an anesthesia technician should look into the specific education and training requirements in his or her area. Some regions and employers will hire new workers with little or no previous experience, so long as they are willing to complete on-the-job training and a supervised probationary period that can last up to six months. Most anesthesia technicians, however, hold associates degrees in health science, medical assisting, or similar subjects. A region may also require a new anesthesia technician to pass a certification exam before he or she can begin working directly with patients.
With experience, an anesthesia technician is given more and more responsibilities. Many technicians decide to pursue continuing education in order to become lead assistants or nurse anesthetic specialists. Dedicated workers who love their jobs may attend medical school and participate in several years of practical training to become fully licensed anesthesiologists.