Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Henry Clark


Anesthesia support personnel (ASP) provide direct support to health care providers administering anesthesia (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists [CRNAs] and anesthesiologists). Because these anesthesia providers are caring for a patient whom they cannot legally or ethically leave unattended, ASP are employed to bring them extra supplies or equipment, prepare equipment for the case, maintain and clean equipment, and generally function as directed by the anesthesia provider. Given the limited literature and importance of ASP in maintaining equipment essential to safe practice, it is necessary to describe the population to understand who is functioning in this role to insure that these individuals are trained and capable of complying with safety standards. There are two studies in the literature describing this population. The first study presents a descriptive survey of ASP utilization in anesthesiology residency training programs revealing varied utilization and qualifications of ASP (McMahon & Thompson, 1987). The second study is a survey of a convenience sample of the membership of the professional organization of ASP, which offers voluntary certification (American Society of Anesthesiology Technologists and Technicians). This survey reveals variation in utilization and qualification of ASP as well. The present prospective descriptive survey of CRNAs working with ASP was conducted to describe this population in terms of their educational characteristics and training, specific job functions, and work environment. It further evaluated perceptions of practicing CRNAs regarding the utilization of ASP. The results of this study were consistent with that of previous work and indicated that ASP utilization varies by hospital but has a propensity for greater utilization at larger medical centers that have a level I or II trauma designation. Formal ASP supervision is limited, which restricted the results to CRNA reports of tasks ASP performed and perceptions of CRNAs regarding ASP. ASP tasks tended to be limited to more equipment cleaning and maintenance type tasks with a smaller portion of ASP performing tasks related to direct patient care. Overall, the description of ASP in the literature remains variable and further research is needed to adequately describe this population and begin to develop a common language to understand this practice group.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2010