What Does an Anesthesiologist Do?
An anesthesiologist is responsible for consulting physicians or surgeons about treatments and anesthesia that are appropriate for a patients prior, after or during a surgical procedure.
Here are some frequently asked questions about anesthesiology that might
give you a better idea of just how important this medical profession is
in the safety and comfort of patients having surgery and anesthesia.
1. Q. Describe the typical day of an anesthesiologist.
A. My typical day consists of arriving at the hospital between 6:15
and 6:30 a.m. The first thing I do is check to see where I have been assigned
for the day. I may be in an operating room (O.R.) giving an anesthetic, or in
our pre-op area interviewing patients and preparing them for surgery, or in
obstetrics helping moms have their babies safely and comfortably, or in charge
of the O.R. that day. Some of our patients will need special procedures to
prepare them for surgery, and I help with that too. If I am on call, I work 24
hours and then have the next day off. Otherwise, my day will end anywhere from
12 noon to 7 p.m.
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2. Q. Why do you enjoy your job?
A. I love my job because I find medicine exciting and challenging. I
have to use technical skills to perform procedures on patients, I have to use
intellectual skills to problem solve, and I have to use personal skills to help
patients get through the anxiety of surgery, anesthesia and sometimes the pain
3. Q. If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?
A. I would like to change the unpredictability of the hours, but it is
completely tied to the O.R. schedule. Of course, that schedule reflects both
scheduled (elective) surgeries like gall bladder operations and tonsillectomies,
as well as emergency surgeries, including childbirth, heart attacks and car
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4. Q. Describe the work environment.
A. Our work environment is always changing. Some days are routine.
However, when you least expect it, things can quickly become very exciting. The
O.R. is stimulating, challenging and completely rewarding. I personally work in
a close-knit group where we are similar to a supportive family.
5. Q. What are some complications an anesthesiologist might face during
A. As noted above, we often see side effects to all of the drugs that
we use. These may be a lowering of blood pressure and a change in the pulse.
Most anesthetic drugs depress the breathing stimulus, and the anesthesiologist
must be prepared to support the patient's breathing. Rarely, the patient may
experience significant changes in temperature, allergic reactions to drugs,
damage to teeth due to the breathing tubes being placed in the trachea, bleeding
problems, bronchospasm in the lungs, aspiration of stomach contents, or injury
to nerves when nerve blocks are used. While this list may seem long, these
reactions are very uncommon, especially in the healthy patient, but the
anesthesiologist must be prepared not only to recognize any problem, but also he
or she must know how to manage the problem.
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