Perioperative Practice Major - Bachelor of Health Science

Want to become an anaesthetic technician and care for patients throughout their operating theatre journey? Study the Perioperative Practice major in the Bachelor of Health Science, with online learning options.

Interested in a career in operating theatre patient care? An operation is often an important step along a patients journey in returning to normal life, and you’ll become a key member of a team that cares for patients at a vital time, and really make a difference to their lives.

You can study course content online from outside of Auckland, and access clinical placement experiences in real-life settings with one of our hospital providers, as close to your preferred location as possible. Some on-campus attendance may be required.

As a graduate of this programme you can apply for registration as an anaesthetic technician with the Medical Sciences Council of New Zealand. You learn from staff who are anaesthetic technicians, anaesthetists, nurses, midwives and medical specialists. There’s a focus on practical experience with clinical placements in a range of operating theatre specialities to ensure that the Perioperative Practice major prepares you for a successful lifelong career.

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This is part of the Bachelor of Health Science.

Download programme guides

With the Bachelor of Health Science in Perioperative Practice you develop the skills for a career as an anaesthetic technician, looking after patients during an operation. You'll learn vital competencies such as intravenous cannulation (placing tubes in patients' veins), ECG monitoring (monitoring the electrical activity of the heart), and airway intubation skills (placing breathing tubes into the trachea). These competencies will make you highly employable.

Learning is dynamic and will include classroom-based, online and self-directed learning, as well as reflective practice. Clinical practice and simulation experiences (including virtual reality) are important aspects of this major.

Year 1

Semester 1 courses

Semester 2 courses

Year 2

Semester 1 courses could include

Semester 2 courses could include

Year 3

Semester 1 courses could include

Semester 2 courses could include

# Contains a clinical practice element.

Clinical placements

As part of this programme, you complete a number of clinical placements in designated services. Clinical placement opportunities exist throughout New Zealand, and you'll be placed with placement providers as close to your preferred provider as possible. In rare circumstances, you may need to undertake clinical placements anywhere in New Zealand. While you're undertaking your clinical placement, you need to pay for your own travel, parking and accommodation.

Hours of clinical placements you complete in this degree

You can find the approximate number of hours you spend on clinical placements below:

  • Year 1: 110 hours
  • Year 2: 450 hours
  • Year 3: 540 hours

Who can apply for recognition of prior learning

Significant recognition of prior learning (RPL) - you may be eligible if you're:

  • Currently practising as a registered nurse or paramedic and you completed your nursing or paramedicine degree from a NZ university

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) - you may be eligible if you're:

  • Currently practising as a registered anaesthetic technician

Find out more

Several employers offer scholarships to support students enrolled in the Bachelor of Health Science in Perioperative Practice.

To find out which scholarships are currently available for perioperative practice students, visit the AUT Scholarship database and search for 'perioperative practice'.

AUT Scholarship database

Alternatively, you can also email your scholarship enquiry to

Perioperative practice describes the care which is provided to patients during their journey through the operating theatre department as they undergo their surgical operation. This includes anaesthetic care, surgical care and post-anaesthetic care.

When a patient needs an operation there are times when they are required to be unconscious. There are other times when a patient would like to be fully aware, just not in pain. Both of these scenarios are examples of requiring anaesthetic care.

Surgical care is the care provided during the surgical procedure by the whole operating theatre team to ensure the patient is well cared for during a time of vulnerability.

Post-anaesthetic care, is the immediate time after the surgical operation, whereby the patient recovers or wakes up from their anaesthetic.

Throughout this journey, the patient requires a team of highly skilled and knowledgeable health professionals. Anaesthetic technicians are one of these health professions, and they work alongside doctors and nurses to deliver these high standards of anaesthetic and perioperative care.

Responsibilities of an anaesthetic technician

  • Supporting anaesthetists in providing high standards of anaesthetic care, including airway management
  • Working alongside the anaesthetist to place patients' breathing tubes and intravenous lines, including placement of Peripherally Inserted Central Catheters
  • Working alongside the anaesthetist to administer anaesthetics, including local anaesthetics and nerve blocks
  • Monitoring patients’ vital signs (such as heartbeat) while under anaesthesia
  • Checking and setting up life support and anaesthetic machines
  • Delivering high standards of patient care after surgical operations

Where you could work

  • District Health Boards (DHBs)
  • Private hospital organisations

There are excellent career progression opportunities for anaesthetic technicians, including moving into management, education or advanced clinical roles such as resuscitation teams.

Professional registration

As a graduate of the Bachelor of Health Science in Perioperative Practice, you’ll be eligible to apply for registration with the Medical Sciences Council of New Zealand, and on registration will have the protected title of registered anaesthetic technician.

Fantastic employment opportunities

Anaesthetic technicians are a valued role within the operating theatre. With a Bachelor of Health Science in Perioperative Practice you’ll be highly employable nationally. Starting salaries for anaesthetic technicians range from approximately $51,000 to $80,000, commensurate with experience.

Key features
  • Only New Zealand degree that enables graduates to apply to register as an anaesthetic technician
  • Leads to a career as an anaesthetic technician
  • Excellent employment opportunities in this field
  • Prepares you for registration with the Medical Sciences Council of New Zealand
  • Offered at the AUT South Campus and in Christchurch, with online learning options
See yourself as
  • Capable of relating to a diverse range of people
  • Self-assured, confident, trustworthy and ethical
  • Having effective communication skills
  • Physically fit and able to deal with long shifts
  • Motivated, resilient and realistic

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.

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