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Anesthesiology as a Career

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Anesthesia or anesthetics is a medication plan that causes the patient to become unconscious so that he or she feels no pain while a surgery is performed. An anesthetist, also called an anesthesiologist is a physician who makes anesthesia related medical decisions and is responsible for the safety and well being of the patient. Anesthesiologists are trained licensed medical doctors who perform anesthesia techniques. In other words, an anesthesiologist is a medical doctor who cares for a patient before, during and immediately following a surgical or medical procedure by administering appropriate anesthesia.

Anesthesiologist is an important person in a surgical team. Without anesthesiologists, surgery would be impossible in most cases. Anesthesiologists administer drugs that reduce (or even eliminate) the pain a patient might feel during surgery or other medical procedures. Anesthesiologists are the one who put you to sleep during surgery. In addition to helping patients through surgery, anesthesiologists may also help treat patients with conditions causing chronic pain. They also involve in the care of patients with cardiac or respiratory emergencies, including the need for artificial ventilation, as well as supervise post anesthesia recovery.

The anesthesiologists role extends beyond the operating room. An anesthesiologist's first contact with a surgical patient is usually during a 'preoperative interview'. The anesthesiologist make preoperative assessment of the patient, reviews the patient's medical history and medications, discusses the upcoming surgery. Then he decides about the best anesthetic plan for that individual based on his or her current health. The anesthesiologist is also responsible for the well being of the patient postoperatively while the person emerges from the effects of the anesthesia. Anesthesiologists calculate proper drug dosages for patients, administer anesthesia and monitor patients' vital signs throughout surgical procedures. Vital signs include heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, body temperature, breathing and brain and kidney functions.

There are three main types of anesthesia administered during surgery: general, regional, and local. General anesthesia renders the patient unconscious and unable to feel pain or any other sensation. Many general anesthetics are gases or vapors administered through a mask or breathing tube, whereas others are liquid medicines introduced through a vein. Regional anesthesia numbs an entire area of the body requiring surgery. Local anesthesia is used to numb a specific part of the body (such as the foot or hand) being operated so the patient can't feel anything in that specific area. Both regional and local anesthetics are administered via injections.

Work hours for anesthesiologists are normally very long and irregular. They do not have any fixed working hours and hence the work can be stressful. During operations, they may be required to stand for long periods of time. Many anesthesiologists are on call at all times at any hour, day or night, meaning they may have to drop everything at any given time and rush to the hospital for an emergency.



To pursue anesthesiology, one needs a strong background in Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics. Like any other physician, Anesthesiologists too require a long period of medical training. After 10+2 one has to apply to medical colleges to pursue MBBS degree, admission to which is based on scores of entrance test and marks of plus two. Next step after MBBS is one year house surgency followed by M.D in anesthesiology which is usually of 2 years duration.

Besides anesthesiology, an anesthesiologist must also study cardiology, critical care medicine, internal medicine, pharmacology, and surgery. An anesthesiologist may choose to specialize in a particular field, such as neuro surgery, cardiac and thoracic surgery, maxillofacial surgery and so on. They need to continuously update their knowledge and skills through professional seminars and continuing educational courses.

Personal attributes

The key attributes required in this profession are the desire to help patients, calmness, personal motivation and stamina needed for long work hours. Equally important are emotional stability, a good or congenial bedside manner, be a good listener and understand what people are saying and the ability to make critical decisions in emergency situations. They must also be computer and technological savvy to master the ever-increasing complexity of new anesthetic techniques and machinery.

Job Prospects and Career Options

Career prospects for anesthesiologists are always booming, since every hospital will require a team of anesthesiologists who are experienced and dedicated.

One of the first and foremost duties of an anesthesiologist is to administer an anesthetic to a person undergoing a surgical treatment. This means giving the patient the necessary medicine to help them feel no pain while undergoing surgery. Anesthesiology is a lot more team oriented than any other medical specialties. These physicians work along with other doctors in order to monitor and assess a patient's body temperature, heart rate and breathing, before, during and after surgery. Anesthesiologists are often treated as the patient's advocate in the operating room, keeping the patient stable during the procedure and informing the surgeon if the patient develops problems which could influence the procedure.

Anesthesiologists also work outside the operating room, such as in: The Intensive Care Unit (ICU), where they administer pain relief to critically ill patients while helping to restore them to a stable condition. Pain management, where they are involved in the diagnosis and treatment of patients who suffer from acute and chronic illnesses. During labour and delivery, they provide pain relief to the mother.

As long as there is a demand for surgery and relief from pain, there will be need for qualified anesthesiologists. Anesthesiologists are needed in doctor's offices, hospitals, health Clinics, and anywhere where patients are in pain. Most anesthesiologists work in hospital operation theatre, while others work in outpatient surgery centers, medical offices, dental clinics etc. Some work in emergency rooms, where they handle victims of heart attacks, shock, drug overdoses, traumatic injuries, and other serious health problems requiring immediate care. Other opportunities may exist in urgent care centers, academic medical centers, and the military. For those who opt for a field other than medical practice, can choose to work as lectures in medical colleges. Those who are specialists in the sector may also work as visiting Anesthesiologists and may charge on hourly basis. Some may move on to administrative and supervisory roles within the medical sector. Yet another group can enter into research field.

Various disciplines in the field of anesthesia: Anesthetic sub-specialties include cardiac and thoracic surgery, neurosurgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, pediatrics, dental, maxillofacial surgery, otolaryngology, obstetrics, orthopedic surgery, and trauma & emergency surgery. Intensive care medicine and pain management are two other sub-specialty areas, both of which involve a significant amount of work outside the theatre environment.

Other careers in the field of anesthesiology

Anesthesiologist Assistant (AAs): An anesthesiologist assistant is a health care professional who works under the supervision of an anesthesiologist, primarily assisting him while he prepares a patient for anesthesia. The job responsibilities of an anesthesiologist assistant vary according to the setting and the place. In many countries, especially in India, there is no position for anesthesiologist assistants.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA): A certified registered nurse anesthetist often works under the supervision of an anesthesiologist. They assist the anesthesiologist in medication.

Anesthesia Technician (AT): ATs are responsible for managing the anesthesia equipment and for its proper maintenance.


The salary ranges according to the geographic region, experience and sub-specialty. In India, an Anesthesiologist may start his career with a minimum pay scale of Rs 20,000 to 30,000 per month depending upon the medical organization they work for. Generally pay is much more in corporate hospitals than in government hospitals. After being established in the field, one can work on an hourly basis too, and in this case pay is much lucrative.


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