Fanshawe Offers New Anesthesia Assistant Program
October 17, 2008
"We're very excited to be part of this emerging profession," explains program coordinator Dennis Hunter. "Our students will be among the first ambassadors of the anesthesia assistant profession and we're delighted to be involved in these initial stages."
During the 38-week program, students perform simulations using state-of-the-art equipment in Fanshawe's brand new mock operating room. "The OR has yet to be finished," Hunter explains, "but we're looking forward to using the facility to its full potential. We're combining classroom with clinical learning initiatives and it's wonderful for our students to have access to such a modern facility."
Students attend classes one day a week during the first two terms in order for them to continue their full-time professional work commitments. Successful applicants must have either a Respiratory Therapy diploma or a Nursing diploma and are required to have 4,000 hours of work experience to be considered for the program.
"We currently have seven students, four of whom are Fanshawe graduates of the Respiratory Therapy program while the others are nursing grads," explains Hunter. "The combination of the two streams, the two sets of knowledge, while sometimes challenging, will benefit the students in the long-run. Each group brings different expertise to the classroom, students help each other out … it's a great collaboration."
Upon completion, graduates will work under the supervision of an anesthesiologist to assist in the care of surgical patients during general, regional and local anesthesia in hospital operating rooms, post-operative care, labour and delivery, emergency and intensive care. "It's anticipated that graduates will have 100 percent employment due to the shortage of anesthesiologists and the long waiting times for surgery," says Hunter. "Growth in the profession is expected also in part to the aging population and associated rise in surgical procedures."
Currently the program is offered at two other colleges across the province. A national curriculum is still under development, as are rates of pay and credential exams. As Hunter explains: "There are certainly a few unknowns yet to be worked out, but the fact that we're moving forward … that we're doing something to address some of the issues we currently face, it's terrific."