Topic Overview

Anesthesia specialists are responsible for making informed medical decisions about your care. They provide comfort and maintain vital life functions while you get anesthesia and are in recovery.

In Canada, only trained physicians can provide anesthetic services. But they may be assisted by nurses with special training in anesthesia.


Anesthesiologists are medical doctors. They have medical degrees. Then they get 5 more years of specialized training in an accredited anesthesiology residency program. They are certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. As doctors, they have a wide range of knowledge about medicines and care for diseases. They know how the human body works and how it responds to the stress of surgery.

Family practice anesthetist

Some family practice doctors may get extra training in a university department of anesthesia to become a family practice anesthetist. A family practice anesthetist usually works in rural areas that don't have an anesthesiologist.

Anesthesia assistant

Anesthesia assistants (AAs) are usually respiratory therapists or registered nurses. They get extra training in anesthesia. They have specialized knowledge of anesthesia drugs and equipment and airway management. The also know about patient evaluation and assessment before, during, and after surgery. AAs are part of the anesthesia care team, and they work under the supervision of an anesthesiologist.

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer John M. Freedman, MD - Anesthesiology

Current as ofOctober 9, 2017