Are Anaesthesiologists Doctors?

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Most people do not think of anaesthesiologists as doctors but an anaesthesiologist is in fact a doctor with an M.D. Anaesthesiologists are physicians who specialise in anaesthesiology during their residency. They go through medical school and residency training just like physicians who choose other specialties.

Medical school has the same requirements for everyone and all students select their specialty by the end of medical school,. If you choose anaesthesiology, you will have to first complete a one-year internship, usually in general medicine or surgery before you start your residency. You then spend the next three years in the anaesthesia residency program.

The path to board certification starts with the written board exam. After passing this exam, you graduate from anaesthesia residency. It’s now time for the oral board exam, which is a personal question and answer session with senior anaesthesiologists. During this session your knowledge, aptitude and skills are evaluated. When you pass this, you are considered “board-certified”.

Anaesthesia Residency Training

Anaesthesia residency is structured like other post-graduate medical training programs. Residents learn their specialty under the careful guidance of more experienced residents and attending physicians. As the programme progresses, anaesthesia residents are given increasing responsibility and independence.

Some of the skills learned by anaesthesia residents include:

  • General anaesthesia
  • Anaesthesia for trauma patients
  • Epidurals and Spinals
  • Sedation and local anaesthesia
  • Aesthetic care of newborns, including premature babies
  • Management of the pregnant patient for delivery and surgeries
  • Aesthetic care of children
  • Aesthetic decision making, planning and administration for patients with severe or rare diseases
  • Procedures such as nerve blocks

Anaesthesia Residency Requirements

All students who take this specialty are expected to demonstrate proficiency in basic as well as advanced anaesthesia techniques before they are considered eligible for board certification,.

Through your anaesthesiologist training, you will become skilled in peri-operative medicine, which includes care of the patient before, during and after surgery. For this, a strong background in general medicine and other medical specialties such as anatomy, neurology, cardiology, physiology, pharmacology, pathophysiology and pulmonology can be very helpful.

Providing safe and effective anaesthesia is just one of the skills you will master during your residency. Besides this, you will also received extensive training in airway management. In life-and-death situations, you will be the one primarily responsible for accessing the airway of the patient to make sure oxygen is delivered to the lungs and to the body. Usually, this is done with the help of a breathing tube.

In many hospitals, the anaesthesiologist is an expert not just for airway management but also in IV placement. You are the person who will be called if no one else is able to place an IV, so this is another skill you will spend a lot of time learning during residency.

The Reality of Anaesthesiology Residency

Like most other specialties, anaesthesiology residency can be rigorous and stressful but it can also be very interesting and rewarding. The biggest surprise most residents have is the amount of responsibility they are given and even if you realise before going in that there is a lot more to the job than most people think there is, the reality will only hit when you really start begin responsible for patients.

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