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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

ANES 4021: Pharmacology and Principles of Clinical Anesthesia

The goal of this course is to present the theory of clinical anesthesia to Anesthesia Assistant program students. Students build upon their general knowledge of pharmacological principles and learn pharmacology in the context of clinical anesthesia. General, sedation, and regional anesthesia is considered. Students explore pharmacological agents and their use in: pre-anesthetic care, induction, maintenance, emergence, and recovery from general anesthesia. Students will become familiar with the indications/contraindications, mechanism of action, effects, and application of the most common drug categories used in anesthesia. The application of anesthetic workstation and other technology used in the delivery of anesthesia is considered as this course builds upon the theories from ANES 4001: Anesthesia Equipment and ANES 4011: Hemodynamic and Physiologic Monitoring.

Learning outcomes

After completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the basic pharmacological principles, anatomy, and physiology of the autonomic nervous system.
  2. Discuss pharmacokinetics and characteristics of inhalational anesthetics. Define diffusion hypoxia and factors that alter inhalational agents.
  3. Describe the pharmacokinetics and characteristics of barbiturates, non-barbiturates, benzodiazepines and their reversals.
  4. Explain the pharmacology and use for opioids, non-opioids, and their reversals.
  5. Evaluate the goals of pain management appropriate to patient needs.
  6. Explain the pharmacology and use for muscle relaxants and their reversals. Be able to differentiate significance of depolarizing/non-depolarizing.
  7. Explain the pharmacological mechanisms of induction and emergence in general anesthesia.
  8. Identify blood, coagulation treatments, and fluid therapy for specific situations/conditions, and consider management plans for when complications arise.
  9. Describe local anesthetics in terms of mechanism of action, pharmacological effects, indications/ contraindications, dosage and volume.
  10. Describe pharmacological agents that can be used alongside local anesthetics, their effects and indications.
  11. Describe hypotensive agents and antiarrhythmic agents.
  12. Describe indications/contraindications of commonly used antibiotics in the operating room.

Course topics

  • Module 1: Basic Pharmacological Principles
  • Module 2: Review of Autonomic Nervous System
  • Module 3: Inhalational Anesthetics
  • Module 4: IV Anesthetics
  • Module 5: Opioids and Analgesia
  • Module 6: Neuromuscular Blockades
  • Module 7: Blood and Fluid Therapy
  • Module 8: Regional and Neuraxial Anesthetic Agents
  • Module 9: Pharmacological Adjuncts

Required text and materials

This is a companion course to ANES 4011, therefore, the textbook listed below would have been provided in ANES 4011 and is not included in this course package. If students did not take ANES 4011 and do not already own this textbook, they will need to purchase it. To do so, contact or phone 1.800.663.9711 (toll free in Canada) or 250.852.7000 (local & international).

  1. Butterworth, J., Mackey, D., & Wasnick, J. (2022). Morgan & Mikhail’s Clinical Anesthesiology (7th ed). McGraw-Hill, Lange.
    Type: Textbook: ISBN: 9781260473797


Please be aware that should your course have a final exam, you are responsible for the fee to the online proctoring service, ProctorU, or to the in-person approved Testing Centre. Please contact with any questions about this.

To successfully complete this course, students must achieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on the overall course, and 50% or higher on the final mandatory exam.

Students who do not submit an assignment will be assigned a mark of zero (0) for that assignment. It is recommended that students complete all assignments in order to achieve the learning outcomes of the course. Students applying this course towards any TRU Health Care program may be required to obtain a minimum grade of 60 % on the course overall to meet program requirements.

Quiz 1: Basic Pharmacological Principles 10%
Assignment 1: Drug Monograph (Group Assignment) 15%
Assignment 2: Blood and Fluid Therapy 15%
Assignment 3: Recovery and Pain Management 10%
Discussions 1-3 (completion) 15%
Final Exam (mandatory) 35%
Total 100%

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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