Anaesthetists have a major role in the perioperative care of patients requiring surgery. As an anaesthetist, you will also be involved in areas such as resuscitation, intensive care medicine, pain medicine, retrieval, disaster response and hyperbaric medicine. Core anaesthesia practice involves assessing patients thoroughly and applying both physiological and pharmacological knowledge to best care for them through surgery.[i]
Typical scope of work for an anaesthetist is:
- Providing general anaesthesia
- Providing sedation and regional anaesthesia
- Perioperative assessment and management
- Airway management of patients
- Postoperative care
- Resuscitation, transport and life support for patients in emergency and trauma situations.
FULL PANEL RECORDING
What is a typical day of work like?
As an anaesthetist you will generally have:
- An interest in biology and physics
- An interest in health care
- Ability to make quick decisions in emergencies
- Good communication skills
- An enjoyment of working in a team environment
- Satisfaction in work that requires analytical and logical thinking
- Satisfaction in work that requires understanding of numbers, calculation and precision
- Enjoyment of procedural skills
- Good time management skills.
What is it like to work as an anaesthetist?
You must complete two years of general hospital training before you can apply to commence the anaesthesia training program with ANZCA. At least one of these two years must be in a non-critical care area to ensure a good grounding in general medicine and other disciplines. You can apply to join the college as an “applicant” after just one year. This simply gives you access to the library and other resources. For detailed information about the training program refer to the ANZCA website.
It is competitive to get in, however it is very accessible to those who can demonstrate they are interested and committed to anaesthetics. It is important to show this interest and commitment through your resume e.g. simulation exercises, a peri-operative job, etc. You get three chances to get in, giving you three years to work towards it. Most trainees enter the training program between PGY3 and PGY5.
To apply for the training program, you will need to submit your CV and selection criteria, then if you progress you will be invited for an interview and simulation exercise with a panel. The panel is looking at how much medical experience you have, your interest in anaesthetics and human factors, such as your ability to lead, follow and your situational awareness.
To prepare for the simulation exercise, it is useful to have done some ALS work and some simulations and feel comfortable with these. On the day make sure you take each situation as a ‘real situation’.
One of the great things about the training program is that you are given a contract every year so there’s no need to reapply taking the stress out of annual job applications, plus you are guaranteed to get all your anaesthetic subspecialties through. There is also lots of support through the WA training committee and the College for parental leave and training part-time.
The exams are the most challenging part of the program. The first part has a large theoretical component and both exams require at least 9 to 12 months of dedicated study time to achieve a good pass mark.
In WA there is a good supportive system to help trainees with their exams and that results in good pass rates in the state.
Dual training is a possibility with anaesthetics, however it can be a long journey, as there is only a small crossover across specialties. This may equate to one-year reduction in training, so you’ll still have approximately 9 to 10 years until completion.
What is the application process for anaesthetics training?
What is enjoyable about the anaesthetics training program?
What is not so enjoyable about anaesthetics training?
Is dual training common in the anaesthetics training program?
How competitive is it to get into the anaesthetics training program?
What PGY level is a good time to apply for the training program?
What is the best way to prepare for the SIM interview for anaesthetics?
What is the anaesthetics selection panel looking for?
Anaesthetists have opportunities to work in the public sector, or private sector and many work in both. Anaesthetists can subspecialise in an area, remain general or do further training in areas such as pain medicine, or dual training in intensive care medicine. There is a currently a balance around supply and demand, in both WA and Australia wide.
N.B. Career prospects are dependent on both the supply of specialists and the projected future demand for services provided by medical specialists (including general practitioners). The complex interplay of supply and demand is currently being modelled on both a state and national level and will be included when it's available.