Anaesthetists, give anaesthetics for surgical, medical and psychiatric procedures. They facilitate pain free child-birth, resuscitate acutely unwell patients, run chronic pain services and lead intensive care units.

Nature of the work: 

Anaesthetists work in many different areas of the hospital. Anaesthetists care for patients by choosing the appropriate anaesthetics, monitoring their wellbeing during operations and painful procedures, supervising their recovery and providing further medical support if needed. The majority of area includes:

  • Obstetric units
  • Critical care services for intensive care and high dependency patients
  • Resuscitation services
  • Emergency departments
  • Chronic pain management
  • Acute pain teams
  • Dentistry
  • Perioperative clinics
  • Research
  • Psychiatry – for patients receiving electro-convulsive therapy (ECT)
  • Radiology – anaesthesia for CT scans and MRI, especially in children
  • Inter-hospital transfers of critically ill patients

Anaesthetists offer four stages of patient care for a routine anaesthetic:

  • Preparation – assessing the patient’s fitness for anaesthesia and agreeing on an anaesthetic plan
  • Induction – initiating anaesthesia
  • Maintenance – continuing anaesthesia and monitoring the patient’s condition including checking the activity of the heart, blood pressure, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, breathing, body temperature, depth of anaesthesia and the body fluid balance
  • Recovery – reversing anaesthesia and supporting the patient’s recovery

The modern specialty of anaesthesia has come a long way since its earliest days. Every patient has a needle inserted in their vein, and in more complicated cases, arterial or central venous lines (ie inserting a line via a thin catheter). Airway management is also important. This may involve face masks, laryngeal mask airways, endotracheal intubations or tracheostomies. Common regional anaesthetic techniques include the epidural and the spinal block.