Working life (anaesthetics)

This page provides useful information about the roles and responsibilities of anaesthetists, where they work, who they work with and what they feel about their role.

“In the operating theatre, we have so many monitoring screens to look at our working area resembles an aircraft cockpit. Outside the operating theatre, we spread our wings across almost every area of patient care.”

How your time is spent

Every day is different, but a typical day might start before 8am with visits to pre-operative patients and equipment tests before surgery begins. In the operating theatre, anaesthetists carry out different procedures. One patient may need a general anaesthetic while another may require an epidural or local anaesthetic. Anaesthetists treat all sorts of conditions. Patients range in age from the elderly to babies (neonates) or even foetuses for some kinds of surgery.

Anaesthetists also have to deal with theatre emergencies. Some do more intensive care management (ICM) than others. Ward work, administration, obstetrics and pain management clinics may also feature in an anaesthetist’s day.

Anaesthetists must spend time on their own continuing education and professional development. They may be involved in teaching and training medical students, postgraduate doctors in training, nurses, midwives and paramedics. They contribute to the clinical audit programme (to improve medical practice) and may also be involved in research.

On call and working hours

Working hours are planned but they can be quite long and irregular including night work, weekend work and on call rotas. The on call requirement is variable, but typically one night a week and one weekend in anything from one in four to one in twelve (or even less). Good working relationships with colleagues will enable shift swaps where possible.

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