Professional Titles, Roles & Responsibilities
The title for this role RRTs play in varies between institutions. Although the title of “Anesthesia Assistant” (AA) is not a legislatively protected title, it has been associated with this role in some facilities in Ontario. In the Canadian Anesthesia Society’s (CAS) 2018 Position Paper on Anesthesia Assistants, the CAS states that individuals working as AAs “should be experienced healthcare professionals who have pursued a defined period of didactic and clinical training specific to the competencies required to be an AA”. In addition, it is the position of the CRTO is that an RRT must not use the title of Anesthesia Assistant unless they have completed a recognized Anesthesia Assistant educational program.
CSRT’s Certified Clinical Anesthesia Assistant (CCAA)
The Canadian Society for Respiratory Therapy (CSRT) offers a credential for Anesthesia Assistants – the Certified Clinical Anesthesia Assistant (CCAA). This credential is awarded to regulated health care professionals who (1) have completed an accredited anesthesia assistant program, and (2) have successfully passed the credentialing exam offered by the Canadian Board for Respiratory Care (CBRC). Those holding the CCAA credential must remain registered with the CSRT and participate in the continuing education program for the CCAA.
Details of the program can be found on the CSRT website: www.csrt.com.
The CCAA is not a substitute for registration with a regulatory body – in fact, maintenance of the CCAA requires ongoing registration with a regulator. ALL RTs wishing to practice in Ontario must be registered with the CRTO. The CRTO does not require its Members who work as AAs to obtain the CCAA designation.
Anesthesia Assistants & Advanced Practice Roles
In 2010, the CRTO released a discussion paper examining the question of whether or not anesthesia assistance could be considered an area of advanced practice. The report used the Strong model of advance practice as the basis for determination and concluded that, while anesthesia assistance does require additional training beyond that of an entry-to-practice respiratory therapy program, it did not meet the criteria for advanced practice.
The report can be viewed here: www.crto.on.ca/pdf/Reports/AA_Final_Report.pdf
Working under the Direction and Supervision of an Anesthesiologist
The CAS 2018 Position Paper on Anesthesia Assistants stipulates that AAs works under the direction and supervision of an anesthesiologist. The same principle applies to all RTs, regardless of whether they have received AA training or not, which is that the RT is not to be the primary provider of anesthesia services.