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In general, what is it like to be an anesthesiologist?

I’m curious about what being an anesthesiologist or assistant anesthesiologist is actually like. What does an average day look like? What is the most exciting part of the job? What is the hardest part of the job? How much time do you spend working with other people? What was the college experience and training like? How would one best prepare for the job? Answers to any of these questions would be very appreciated.
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Tatjana’s Answer

An Anaesthesiologist is responsible for largely three things: providing anaesthesia in the operating theatre, caring for patients in intensive care, providing pain management. Training involves generell anaesthesia and local anaesthesia e.g. blocking pain locally via injection into a nerve. You will rotate through intensive care for at least 2 years during your training, rotation through ambulatory parts (non-surgical, non-intensive care) may involve counselling patients for anaesthesia-related risks and choice of anaesthesia prior to a surgery and pain management for acute, mostly post-operative patients, as well as patients with chronic pain or cancer patients.
Anaesthesiologists for the most part work in hospitals or ambulatory surgery centres. In hospitals they usually work in shifts, pretty much life-long.
When working in ICU they have a large team around them, the work is intense, team spirit is high, you'll gain a lot of internal medicine knowledge during your ICU time.
When working in the operation theatre you work by yourself with a senior back-up nearby, supported by an anaesthsiologist nurse. You will work hand in hand with surgeon discussing what is need prior to and during/after surgery depending on the course of the surgery, the age of the patient and its pre-existing diseases. There is great friendship among surgeons and anaesthesiologists and the OR nurses with lots of opportunities to talk and sometimes laugh during or in between operations.
The ambulatory work consists mostly of pain management, where you counsel multiple clinics or wards around the hospital.
Typical day depends on what are you work in. Usually work is split so that you work in all areas depending on the team schedule.
The intensive care team is usually in charge of the emergency room alert and will rush to the ER when a severely ill patient arrives e.g. from a car accident.
Disadvantage: predominantly shift work
Advantage: well-respected, interdisciplinary, shift work means somebody takes over and you can leave on time, easy to transition to other disciplines like surgery or internal medicine if life demands it e.g. when starting a family :-)

Hope this helped a little,
best wishes from Berlin, Germany
Tatjana Gabbert, MD, PhD

Thank you very much for the response! It was very informative and inspiring! Abigail O.

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Estelle’s Answer

I think that you are differentiating between anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists. Anesthesiologists are fully trained doctors that finish medical school then complete an anesthesiology residency. They put people to sleep for surgery, place epidurals for deliveries, perform pain management procedures, and supervise nurse anesthetists. They often supervise intensive care units as well.
Certified nurse anesthetists are nurses that go no to train in anesthesia. They tend to have to less complicated patients and work under the direct supervision of anesthesiologists.
Both are great fields with lots of opportunity. They tend to work from about 6 am to 4 pm weekdays then take emergency and overnight call on a rotating basis.

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Tatjana’s Answer

An Anaesthesiologist is responsible for largely three things: providing anaesthesia in the operating theatre, caring for patients in intensive care, providing pain management. Training involves generell anaesthesia and local anaesthesia e.g. blocking pain locally via injection into a nerve. You will rotate through intensive care for at least 2 years during your training, rotation through ambulatory parts (non-surgical, non-intensive care) may involve counselling patients for anaesthesia-related risks and choice of anaesthesia prior to a surgery and pain management for acute, mostly post-operative patients, as well as patients with chronic pain or cancer patients.
Anaesthesiologists for the most part work in hospitals or ambulatory surgery centres. In hospitals they usually work in shifts, pretty much life-long.
When working in ICU they have a large team around them, the work is intense, team spirit is high, you'll gain a lot of internal medicine knowledge during your ICU time.
When working in the operation theatre you work by yourself with a senior back-up nearby, supported by an anaesthsiologist nurse. You will work hand in hand with surgeon discussing what is need prior to and during/after surgery depending on the course of the surgery, the age of the patient and its pre-existing diseases. There is great friendship among surgeons and anaesthesiologists and the OR nurses with lots of opportunities to talk and sometimes laugh during or in between operations.
The ambulatory work consists mostly of pain management, where you counsel multiple clinics or wards around the hospital.
Typical day depends on what are you work in. Usually work is split so that you work in all areas depending on the team schedule.
The intensive care team is usually in charge of the emergency room alert and will rush to the ER when a severely ill patient arrives e.g. from a car accident.
Disadvantage: predominantly shift work
Advantage: well-respected, interdisciplinary, shift work means somebody takes over and you can leave on time, easy to transition to other disciplines like surgery or internal medicine if life demands it e.g. when starting a family :-)

Hope this helped a little,
best wishes from Berlin, Germany
Tatjana Gabbert, MD, PhD

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