What is an Anaesthetist?

An anaesthetist is a specialist doctor who has undergone many years of medical training. In Australia and New Zealand the training begins with obtaining a medical degree from a university and is followed by at least two years working as a doctor. Upon acceptance into the anaesthesia training program, doctors must complete a minimum of 5 years clinical training and two specialist exams before being admitted as a Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA).

At the completion of their training anaesthetists possess extensive theoretical and practical knowledge of the two foundational sciences of clinical anaesthesia: physiology (how the body works) and pharmacology (how medications work in the body). Anaesthetists combine this knowledge with a deep understanding of medicine and surgery that enables the delivery of high-quality perioperative care for patients of all ages, in all states of health and for all types of medical procedures. They work as key members in the multidisciplinary team environment of the hospital. Anaesthetists are renowned for their calm and cool head in a crisis.

To maintain Fellowship, anaesthetists must participate in a continuing professional development (CPD) program that involves annual oversight by ANZCA. The CPD program requires anaesthetists to maintain knowledge and skills, to evaluate their own practice, and to be trained in life-threatening emergency responses.

In some countries, such as the United States, the term anesthesiologist is used. Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain refer to anaesthesia specialists as anaesthetists.

Types of anaesthesia

Types of anaesthesia (ASA)