South Florida Hospital News
Friday February 26, 2021

test 2

February 2021 - Volume 17 - Issue 8


Anesthesiologist Assistant Master's Program: South University Educates to Meet Practitioner Shortage

The indelible pandemic imprint on our sense of normalcy during 2020 has not skipped the fields of higher education and health care.

During the initial stages of COVID-19, most elective surgeries were postponed and many patients remained fearful and even delayed seeking vital medical/surgical care when safe to do so. However, hospitals and physicians immediately committed to strict standards regarding care delivery within COVID-19 protective guidelines including telehealth visits to encourage patients to seek physician advice which resulted in a glut of postponed surgeries.
Nationwide there is a shortage of anesthesia providers. The disruption of COVID-19, increasing health demands of baby boomers, improved access to surgi-centers and expanded health care access in rural areas, will undoubtedly continue to outweigh the number of available anesthesia providers. There are only 12 educational programs across the U.S. preparing specialty anesthesiologist assistants. Forward thinking South University offers a Master’s program at the Savannah, Georgia campus and is poised to offer the 13th anesthesiologist assistant program in West Palm Beach commencing in fourth quarter, 2021.
Jeffrey Carroll, M.H.Sc., CAA, was recruited to direct the West Palm Beach program targeting accreditation of the 27-month Master of Medical Science in Anesthesia Science and enrollment of 24 students by September, 2021. As a practicing anesthesiologist assistant professional and academic leader, Carroll recognizes his profession is a vital member of the care team of anesthesia providers and has pledged to lay a foundation and infrastructure for academic excellence.
“We work under direction of a licensed physician anesthesiologist as a highly skilled healthcare provider within the anesthesia care team. Our AA Master program in West Palm Beach is a partnered affiliation with University of Florida College of Medicine. All CAAs must complete a comprehensive didactic and clinical program at the graduate school level and are trained extensively in the delivery and maintenance of quality anesthesia care as well as advanced patient monitoring techniques,” he said.
In the 1960’s a new educational paradigm for advanced practice anesthesia practitioners emphasizing a science/pre-medical bachelors background, rather than baccalaureate or degree nursing training, was envisioned by three anesthesiologists as a means to address the clinical shortage. Candidates must have completed all pre-med preparatory baccalaureate courses and passed the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) or the Graduate Records Admission Test (GRE)
This professional performs in a similar capacity as a nurse anesthetist but is qualified to seek admittance to medical school if interested. There are approximately 600 practicing CAAs in Florida, the 2nd largest demographic of CAAs nationally.
Carroll is a native of Columbus, Ohio. He earned a BA in Psychology from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and his M.H.Sc. from Nova Southeastern Anesthesiologist Assistant Program where he was the recipient of the Chancellors Award. Upon graduation he began his clinical career as a Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant and has close to a decade of experience with the Medical Center of Trinity, St. Vincent’s in Jacksonville, the University of Florida Health and Shands Hospital. His clinical interests include vascular anesthesia, cardiac anesthesia, and thoracic anesthesia.
He describes his attraction to and passion for the field as the lure of delivering immediate results to patients which he was caught up in when he first shadowed an anesthesiologist’s routine as a student.
“As a valued member of the anesthesia care team we not only connect with the patient prior to surgery but then have the immediate satisfaction of delivering and monitoring all types of advanced anesthesia care during the patient care continuum under the medical direction of a physician anesthesiologist. CAAs can practice in trauma centers, or surgi-centers or academic hospitals with a rotation offering flexible access to all types of specialties including pediatrics, cardio-vascular, orthopedics or ob/gyn,” he explained.
While no health care field is a simple ‘nine to five’ commitment, practicing in an anesthesia group-based model can provide stability and some degree of predictable hours which makes the profession a good match for men and women who want to balance ambitious family, career and student lifestyles.
According to Carroll, South University has spared no resources to ensure the 27-month Master’s offers students an elite education with didactic, on-site skills labs, cutting edge simulation (mock operating room facility with robotic patient scenarios) experiences and clinical rotation during the first year. The second year is designed as a typical residency training with respected local and nationwide opportunities in a variety of practice settings, such as hospital ORs, ambulatory surgi-centers and specialty clinics. Virtual M&M reviews and troubleshooting clinics continue to guide the student in medical decision-making.
Faculty consists of experienced CAAs, board certified anesthesiologists, adjunct physicians, and other appropriate health care professionals including Pharm D’s who provide academic and clinical insight. An experienced Advisory Steering Committee consists of respected clinical, educational and community professionals from the Florida region to provide on-going oversight and counsel.
A member of the American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants (AAAA) where he serves on the AAAA board of directors, Carroll is also active with the Florida Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants where he is immediate past president, the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the Florida Society of Anesthesiologists.
“I tell students that graduating with these dynamic credentials is a win-win. It will open doors to an exciting in-demand career and also build a core academic and experiential portfolio that is a bridge to medical school if they so desire,” Carroll said.
Carroll routinely volunteers for medical mission trips with the organization Faith In Practice, which focuses on providing medical care to the citizens of Guatemala.
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) accredits AA training programs. CAAHEP is the largest accreditor in the health sciences field and is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

For more information, visit or call (561) 273-6500.

Share |