Navigating the Path to Anesthesia Shadowing Opportunities: A Guide for Prospective Anesthesiologist Assistants

Shadowing is an essential aspect of exploring the world of anesthesia, offering invaluable insights into the daily responsibilities of anesthesia professionals. For those aspiring to become Certified Anesthesiologist Assistants (CAAs), this firsthand experience is not only pivotal for personal discernment but also a prerequisite for admission to CAA programs. While securing shadowing opportunities has become more challenging due to pandemic-related restrictions, here are valuable tips to help you land the anesthesia shadowing experience you need.

1. Leverage Your Network

If you lack a direct connection to a Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant (CAA), tap into your broader healthcare network. Individuals in the medical field, especially those with ties to hospitals or operating rooms, may have valuable connections. Explore the possibility of shadowing not only CAAs but also anesthesiologists or CRNAs.

2. Get In Touch With Local Hospitals or Surgery Centers

Hospitals, surgery centers, or even pain clinics, are excellent places to explore for shadowing opportunities. Reach out to the anesthesia department or shadowing office and explain your interest in shadowing. Highlight your commitment to learning and gaining insights into the field of anesthesia.

3. Reach Out to CAA Programs

Identify CAA programs in your proximity and contact them directly. They can guide you to potential shadowing opportunities or connect you with professionals in your area.

Below you'll find all existing CAA program organized geographically linked to their contact pages. (Note that you may have to scroll to the bottom on some pages to find the contact information.)







New Mexico



Washington D.C.


4. Contact State Academies

State academies are organizations that enhance the visibility of the Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant (CAA) profession within the state, keep members informed about legislative efforts affecting CAAs, foster job opportunities for CAAs, and serve as liaisons between CAAs, state anesthesiologist organizations, and medical boards.

If you have a strong interest in working in a specific state, exploring opportunities through a state academy can be a beneficial route to pursue.

The states with active academies are below, with their websites linked:

5. Utilize Online Platforms

Platforms like LinkedIn offer a professional space for networking. When reaching out, ensure polite etiquette by introducing yourself and providing background information. Clearly express your interest in shadowing and how it aligns with your career aspirations.

6. Be Professional in Your Approach

Present yourself professionally when contacting potential mentors or shadowing coordinators. Craft well-written emails or messages that articulate your background, enthusiasm, goals, and the specific contributions you hope to make to patient care. Be sure to respond promptly if you receive a reply and ensure you are easily accessible for communication.

7. Be Willing to Travel

Consider shadowing opportunities beyond your immediate vicinity. Even if it means traveling to a different city or state, the experience gained can be invaluable for your professional development. Willingness to travel can be the key factor in discovering shadowing opportunities. If you do decide to travel for shadowing, be sure to highlight this significant accomplishment in the description of the experience section of your CASAA application.

8. Be Persistent

Expect to encounter several rejections or non-responses before successfully securing a shadowing opportunity. Keep in mind that the healthcare shadowing landscape has been significantly impacted by COVID. Stay persistent, learn from each encounter, and explore new approaches until you successfully secure access to the operating room and anesthesia team!

9. Follow Up and Express Gratitude

Once you secure a shadowing opportunity, express your gratitude with a thank-you note or email. This not only underscores your professionalism but also lays the foundation for potential future shadowing opportunities or mentorship.

Beyond Shadowing

Embarking on your journey to becoming a Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant involves navigating various challenges, including securing shadowing opportunities. With persistence, you'll get your chance to witness anesthesia first-hand!

For guidance on how to prepare for shadowing when the time comes, be sure to explore our instant-download shadowing prep guide and shadowing debrief guide, designed to enhance your readiness and make the most of your shadowing experience. Your commitment to this process will undoubtedly contribute to your success in the field of anesthesiology.

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Sarah is the founder of Aspiring CAA, a practicing certified anesthesiologist assistant, clinical preceptor, and assistant professor at a master of medical science program. With admission committee experience and an intricate knowledge of the admissions process, she helps guide prospective CAA students on their career journey.

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About this blog

Aspiring CAA is the go-to blog for expert advice on how to become a CAA. Founded by a practicing certified anesthesiologist assistant, clinical preceptor, and assistant professor at a master of medical science program in anesthesiology, Aspiring CAA makes admissions guidance readily available to all aspiring anesthesiologist assistants. With admission committee experience and an intricate knowledge of the admissions process, Aspiring CAA takes the guess work out of applying to CAA school.

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