Healthcare & Medical
Anaesthetists administer anaesthetics that block the sensation of pain for patients prior to, during, or after surgery.
Post-graduate qualification + professional registration
What does an Anaesthetist do?
Anaesthetists are physicians who administer anaesthetics that block the sensation of pain for patients prior to, during, or after surgery or other medical procedures.
As an anaesthetist, your key duties would be to:
- prepare patients for surgery by explaining any risks or side effects
- give anaesthetics to patients in a day surgery or operating theatre
- observe and monitor patients during procedures or surgery, responding quickly to any changes
- resuscitate and stabilise patients in the emergency department
- relieve pain during childbirth
- ease pain after an operation
- manage acute and chronic pain.
You would use different types of anaesthetic such as:
- local anaesthetic - for a minor operation on a small area of the body such as the mouth
- regional anaesthetic – such as an epidural to numb a larger area of the body like the lower back in childbirth
- general anaesthetic – for more serious operations, to make the patient totally unconscious.
You would work closely with other healthcare professionals to provide the most appropriate and complete treatment plan for your patients.
Key skills and interests
To become an anaesthetist, you would need:
- a commitment to caring for others
- an interest and ability in science, medicine, anatomy and physiology
- the ability to work under pressure and make quick, accurate decisions
- practical skills for examining patients and performing clinical procedures
- good communication skills and the ability to explain choices to patients.
Working hours and conditions
You would work long hours including nights and weekends, and you may also be part of an out-of-hours roster system.
You could work in public or private hospitals, day surgeries, dental surgeries or other medical facilities. You would spend time in a variety of settings such as consulting rooms, wards, operating theatres and special units like accident and emergency.
How to become an Anaesthetist?
Entry Level Education
To become an anaesthetist, you must first become a qualified medical practitioner and then specialise in anaesthetics. To become a medical practitioner you have to study medicine at university. English, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university. Some universities offer medicine as a double degree and may have additional prerequisites.
Entry into these courses is highly competitive and is based on a combination of academic achievement, performance on the Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT) and a structured interview. The UMAT is a written test that assesses non-academic personal qualities.
Alternatively, you can become a medical practitioner by completing a relevant bachelor degree, followed by a postgraduate qualification in medicine. Entry into the graduate entry courses is based on prior completion of a bachelor degree, performance in the Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT) and a score resulting from a semi-structured interview.
To specialise as an anaesthetist, you must obtain the Diploma of Fellowship of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (FANZCA). To do this, you first need to gain at least two years’ work experience in an approved hospital. You then need to register with the College and undergo a 5-year program undertaking supervised training at an accredited hospital.
This is a small and specialised occupation, and therefore the number of job openings are forecast to remain quite low.
However, with the growing population and increasing demand for better and more specialised healthcare, job opportunities are likely to increase about as fast as the average for all occupations.