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Why consider a career in Anesthesia? Anesthesiologist Anesthesiologist Assistant Anesthesia Technician
Certified Anesthesia Technician Certified Anesthesia Technologist Anesthesiologist Anesthesiologist Assistants

Information about Anesthesia as a Career

Why consider a career in Anesthesia?

  • Anesthesia is an important branch of medicine. Medicine remains an honorable profession, primarily interested in the well being of patients. Physicians still have a considerable degree of freedom and independence in deciding the most appropriate course of treatment for a particular patient.
  • Without anesthesia, surgery would be excruciatingly painful, and in many cases completely impossible. Surgery within the abdominal cavity, the chest, and the skull would not be possible without anesthesia.
  • The practice of anesthesia can include enormous variety, ranging from newborn patients to the very old, from minor outpatient procedures to liver transplants and cardiac surgery. It involves the whole perioperative procedure, from deciding if a patient is fit and ready for surgery to treating postoperative pain and determining fitness for discharge. It often involves providing pain relief in labor, being involved in resuscitation, and treating patients with chronic pain. Anesthesiologists work not only in the Operating Room Suite, but also in the Delivery Room, the Emergency Department, The Intensive Care Unit, and sometimes they provide sedation for procedures in the XRay Department, the Endoscopy Suite, and elsewhere in the hospital.
Advantages
  • Anesthesia is an acute care specialty. Things change quickly, and treatments work quickly and clearly. Anesthesiologists can change a hurting, anxious, upset patient into a comfortable relaxed and cooperative patient in only a few minutes. While a family doctor might take weeks to diagnose chronic high blood pressure and months to establish a treatment regime, anesthesiologists can often diagnose an acute rise in blood pressure within a few heartbeats, and start treatment within minutes
  • Anesthesiologists do not usually have an ongoing commitment to their patients. This means that at the end of the day, if one is not on call, one can leave the hospital with no responsibility for any patients until the start of the next operating list.
  • Anesthesia is a relatively mobile specialty. It is easier for an anesthesiologist to move to a new city and establish a practice. Usually, if one joins the group of anesthesiologists at a particular hospital or clinic, one immediately has work. This is unlike other medical specialists who often have to build up a roster of patients over months or years. Currently, anesthesiologists are in demand in Canada, the USA and the UK.
  • It is relatively easy to work part time or on a locum basis. Because anesthesiologists do not usually have a long term relationship with patients it is easier to get away for long vacations or for other reasons.
Disadvantages
  • Anesthesia is not as glamorous a specialty as, for example, cardiac surgery, obstetrics or emergency room medicine. It's unlikely there will be a hit TV series about an anesthesiologist.
  • Because in some areas nurses, family doctors, and dentists are trained to give anesthetics, some people consider anesthesia a less demanding specialty than other fields of medicine. However, specialist anesthesiologists often deal with more difficult or demanding cases which would be beyond the capabilities of less trained people.
  • Anesthesiologists often have less patient contact than many other types of physician. If you wish to have an ongoing long term relationship with your patients, other branches of medicine may be more suitable. However, in Intensive Care Units and Pain Clinics anesthesiologists do follow patients for weeks or months.
Requirements
  • In most countries, anesthesia is a medical specialty. Training as a doctor is required before training in anesthesia. In Canada, it is possible to train as a GP anesthesiologist in one year. In Canada and the United States, it takes at least four years of specialist training, and in the United Kingdom a few years longer.
  • Anesthesia requires suitable physical and mental attributes.
  • It is important to be skilled with ones hands, to be able to insert lines and tubes into various sites in the body quickly, accurately, and with the minimum of tissue damage.
  • It is necessary to be able to cope with repetition and boredom, without taking shortcuts or becoming distracted. Many operating lists consist of performing similar procedures many times on basically healthy patients, while being alert to circumstances which require a change of plan. Some operations last for many hours. While modern anesthesia machines feature a profusion of alarms if patient's vital signs depart from normal, it is still essential for the anesthesiologist to be aware of what is happening in the operating room.
Alternatives
  • If anesthesia sounds interesting, but the training is too demanding, you might want to consider respiratory therapy. Respiratory therapists often work with anesthesiologists in the Operating Room and in the Intensive Care Unit. They are also involved in helping test patients breathing and with technology related to assisting patients to breathe. In the United States, one can also train as a nurse anesthetist.

 

Why consider a career in Anesthesia? Anesthesiologist Anesthesiologist Assistant Anesthesia Technician
Certified Anesthesia Technician Certified Anesthesia Technologist Anesthesiologist Anesthesiologist Assistants
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