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How to become an anaesthesia associate

To become an anaesthesia associate, you must complete a training programme. You can apply for postgraduate trainee anaesthesia associate opportunities on our recruitment website. 


What is an anaesthesia associate?

Anaesthesia associates are highly trained, skilled healthcare professionals who are qualified to deliver care before, during, and after surgery, including anaesthesia. They work under the supervision of a medically qualified anaesthetist.

Formerly known as Physicians Assistants (Anaesthesia), the professional title has now been aligned with fellow Medical Associate Professions (MAP), including physician associates.

Anaesthesia associates work in the multidisciplinary anaesthesia team, where they provide continuity and flexibility of care to patients undergoing a wide variety of surgical procedures.  

Starting your career as an anaesthesia associate

Choosing subjects at school

To become an anaesthesia associate, you will need a good standard of education. Useful subjects include: 

  • Human Biology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • English
  • Maths

Speak to your guidance teacher about subjects offered at your school.

Work placements and volunteering

You may find it helpful to get some healthcare experience by doing a work placement or volunteering. You’ll get training, increase your knowledge, and learn new skills. This could help you when applying to university, college or a new job with NHSScotland. 

Postgraduate training programme

To become an anaesthesia associate, you must apply for a postgraduate trainee anaesthesia associate position within the NHS. Your Health Board will then sponsor you to achieve your postgraduate qualification as an anaesthesia associate. 

There are 2 routes available to achieve one of these trainee positions. 

Route 1 : registered healthcare practitioners

You must be a registered healthcare practitioner with: 

  • a first degree in a health-related subject and evidence of successful academic activity within the last 3 years
  • at least 3 years of full-time, post-qualification experience in a relevant area 

Route 2 : graduates or graduate equivalent

You must be a new entrant to healthcare, such as a graduate or graduate equivalent, with: 

  • a biomedical science or biological science degree 
  • a demonstrable commitment to a career in healthcare 

Accessing anaesthesia associate training 

There are currently 2 universities in the UK which offer accredited postgraduate qualifications to become an anaesthesia associate: 

These programmes take 2 years to complete and are delivered through a combination of distance learning and clinical placements. The postgraduate diploma requires an additional 3 months of supervised practice to conclude training.

Lancaster University will begin training in 2023.  

You must not apply to the universities directly. You'll need to have secured a position as a trainee anaesthesia associate first. 

Get to know the role

As an anaesthesia associate, you’ll provide anaesthetic services to patients before, during and after surgical procedures. You'll work in anaesthesia, theatre, and critical care environments, within clearly defined boundaries under the broad supervision of a consultant anaesthetist.  

Although both fall under the umbrella term of medical associate professionals, the roles of anaesthesia associate and physician associate are very different. 

Tasks include: 

  • interview patients before an operation 
  • take medical histories and perform physical examinations 
  • develop and implement the anaesthesia care plan 
  • administer or aid in the administration of general, regional, and local anaesthesia for a variety of surgical procedures  
  • use a wide variety of techniques, anaesthesia agents, drugs and equipment in providing anaesthesia care 
  • administer drugs as prescribed 
  • interpret and use data obtained from invasive and non-invasive monitoring equipment 
  • position or supervise the positioning of patients to ensure patient safety 
  • identify and correct anaesthesia equipment problems that might be a risk to patients 
  • identify common postoperative problems and act accordingly 
  • monitor and maintain a safe, clean, and therapeutic environment for patients, staff, and visitors 
  • teach, supervise, and assess other team members

You'll need these skills:

  • critical thinking 
  • communicating
  • teamworking 
  • organisational skills 
  • calmness under pressure 
  • resilience 
  • compassion  

Anaesthesia associates work with other healthcare professionals, including: 

  • anaesthetists 
  • surgeons 
  • nurses 
  • hospital doctors 
  • general practitioners 
  • operating department practitioners 
  • clinical perfusion scientists 
  • healthcare support workers 
  • allied health professionals 
  • other medical associate professionals  

You could work in:

  • surgical theatres
  • day surgery units
  • pre-operative assessment
  • accident and emergency departments

Learning and development

The Association of Anaesthesia Associates recommends that anaesthesia associates undertake 50 hours of continuing professional development per year.

Professional bodies

Once you qualify as an anaesthesia associate, you can join the following professional bodies: 

The RCoA holds a voluntary register of anaesthesia associates. The General Medical Council encourages all qualified anaesthesia associates to join the register. You can apply to join the register on the RCoA website

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