New seats for anesthesia assistants

November 1, 2021 at 11:26 am  BC, News, Politics

People throughout B.C. will soon be receiving first-class care from more graduates of Thompson Rivers University’s (TRU) anesthesia assistant program.

Through a cohort program in partnership with health authorities on the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, 17 new seats are being added.

“This expansion and partnership with the health authorities is allowing us to be nimble and provide training for eager students interested in learning and advancing their health careers, whether they are in the Lower Mainland or Vancouver Island,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “As allied health professionals, anesthesia assistants are integral members of the health-care team in hospitals and having more graduates will strengthen our entire health system.”  

Oct. 14, 2021, was International Allied Health Professions Day. To expand the number of allied health professionals in B.C., the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training provided a total of $344,600 to TRU to offer anesthesia assistant cohort programs in partnership with health authorities in the Lower Mainland and Island Health. This funding will support a cohort program based in the Lower Mainland and a cohort hybrid delivery program in partnership with Island Health.

The Ministry of Health will also provide BC Children’s Hospital with one-time funding of $23,260 for a part-time anesthesia assistant pediatric clinical instructor to support student learning.

“By investing in in-demand programs, we are committed to training the next generation of health-care professionals in B.C.,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “This program will give more students opportunities for hands-on learning, so they can provide quality health care where it is needed.”

TRU has partnered with health authorities (Island Health, Provincial Health Services Authority, Providence Health Care, Fraser Health) to expand the cohort-based program option to 17 health authority employees looking to build on their skill sets and move into new roles. Students started the program in the fall of 2021.

Anesthesia assistants are allied health workers who are specially trained to provide care to surgical patients during general, regional or conscious sedation anesthesia under the supervision of the anesthesiologist.

This announcement builds upon $4.4 million made available in 2020 for new seats for health-care workers, including anesthesia assistants, to help government respond to local and emerging needs, including surgical care, and are in addition to ongoing support of health-care education programs at post-secondary institutions throughout B.C.


Brett Fairbairn, president and vice-chancellor, TRU –

“TRU is proud to expand access to the anesthesia assistant program, and we are appreciative of the support of partner health authorities. The addition of 17 new seats in this program provides an opportunity for lifelong learning, which connects meaningfully with people in the communities we serve.”

Quick Facts:

  • To take this program, students must reside in Canada and have the designation of registered respiratory therapist (RRT), or registered nurse (RN) with critical care experience.
  • The anesthesia assistant post-diploma program provides respiratory therapists or registered nurses with critical care experience with the knowledge and crucial skills required to be anesthesia assistants and perform a wide range of technical and clinical duties as defined and approved by the Canadian Anesthesiologists’ Society.
  • The length of the program varies depending upon previous experience. The average completion time is fewer than two years. The maximum time allowed is three years.
  • The cohort (12 months) and hybrid cohort (16 to 18 months) delivery models support accelerated learning for health authority employees.

Learn More:

TRU anesthesia assistant post-diploma program:

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