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Commissioners may be contacted through the office of NCCAA.


To help address manpower needs, as well as address the increasingly complex and technologic practice of anesthesia, the allied health specialty anesthesiologist assistant (AA) was created in 1969. Graduates of anesthesiologist assistants educational programs which are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) are eligible to enter into the certification process administered by the National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants (NCCAA).

Under the guidance of John E. Steinhaus, MD, PhD, the National Commission was founded in 1989 for the purpose of establishing a national certification process to provide the basis for eligibility for anesthesiologist assistants to practice in the United States. The National Commission then and now includes both anesthesiologist assistants and anesthesiologists. The National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) is consultant and contractor for NCCAA’s examinations and certification process. 

The entry point into the certification process is the Certifying Examination for Anesthesiologist Assistants, which is a written examination offered three time per year, in February, June and October. Items on the examination are designed to assess each candidate’s entry-level knowledge and his/her skill in applying that knowledge related to the duties of a practicing anesthesiologist assistant.

NCCAA contracted with the National Board of Medical of Examiners in 1990 to help develop the first Certifying Examination. Initial development of the certification process included surveying practicing anesthesiologist assistants and their physician sponsors, developing a content grid for examination, establishing an item bank, and constructing and administering the first Certifying Examination. The initial survey of practicing anesthesiologist assistants and their physician sponsors was conducted in 1990 to establish the basis of practice for this allied health specialty. A second practice survey was conducted in 1997.

Both surveys were developed by content experts in conjunction with NBME. Development of the content grid for the Certifying Examination has been based on the results of the surveys. Test Committees have been appointed annually by NCCAA since 1990 to prepare the Certifying and CDQ Examinations. The Test Committees are comprised of anesthesiologist assistants, anesthesiologists, and individuals expert in testing and measurement. Item writing, examination construction, standard setting, examination scoring, and reporting are conducted each year in consultation with NBME. NCCAA offered the first Certifying Examination for Anesthesiologist Assistants in 1992.

Based on the results of the 1997 survey, a content grid was formulated for the Examination for Continued Demonstration of Qualifications (CDQ Examination). Item writing assignments were made, and the NCCAA item bank was expanded to accommodate the CDQ Examination. The first CDQ Examination was administered in 1998. CDQ Examinations are offered annually in February and June.