Anaesthetist Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

An Anaesthetist, or Anaesthesiologist is a Specialist Doctor who provides anaesthesia to patients who are undergoing operations or procedures. Their duties include administering anaesthetics, monitoring patients during a procedure and remaining with them until they wake up.


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Anaesthetist duties and responsibilities

The range and type of duties an Anaesthetist does, depends on their field of specialisation and where they work. Generally, their daily duties include:

  • Meeting with patients to assess their health and discuss which type of anaesthetic is suitable for them
  • Preparing patients by explaining what will happen to them and informing them of any risks or side effects
  • Managing postoperative pain to assist a patient in their recovery
  • Resuscitating and stabilising patients in a critical care unit
  • Collaborating with other health professionals, such as Surgeons, Theatre Nurses and Radiologists to ensure the wellbeing of patients
  • Performing administrative tasks, such as drafting discharge letters or patient reports
  • Training and supervising junior medical staff
  • Staying up to date regarding the latest medical developments and research in their field


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What does an Anaesthetist do?

Apart from anaesthesia, Anaesthetists  scope of practice includes pain management and intensive care. Besides working in operating theatres, they also treat patients in chronic pain clinics and provide sedation for individuals who are receiving radiology and radiotherapy. They also sedate patients in psychiatric wards who are undergoing electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). 

Some Anaesthetists work closely together with emergency Physicians to provide care for patients in intensive care units. Most Anaesthetists develop their skills in a subspecialty of surgical practice, critical care or pain management, for example in childbirth or chronic pain.


Anaesthetist skills and qualifications

Apart from medical expertise, Anaesthetists need excellent communication skills to effectively work together with other health professionals. This includes strong verbal communication skills to clearly relay information and the ability to actively listen to fellow employees, other specialists and patients. A successful Anaesthetist candidate will have various prerequisite skills and qualifications:

  • The ability to remain calm and collected under pressure and during crisis situations
  • Healthy coping mechanisms to combat stress and also emotional and physical fatigue
  • A considerate and caring attitude to put the minds of patients at ease and provide the best possible care
  • Excellent observational skills to notice when complications or problems arise in sedated patients
  • Strong decision-making skills to act effectively during emergencies
  • Knowledge of emergency protocols and guidelines
  • Attention to detail to ensure that they administer the correct dosage of anaesthetics to patients


Anaesthetist experience requirements

Before an Anaesthetist is allowed to practise, they undergo many years of practical on-the-job training. Employers are therefore often willing to employ newly qualified Anaesthetists. However, many employers also require that applicants have proven experience in relevant areas. Depending on the position, candidates may need to show experience in working in a multidisciplinary work environment or in an intensive care unit, for instance. Some employers may also require that candidates have the ability to teach clinical skills to trainees.


Anaesthetist education and training requirements

Anaesthetists need to complete a five-year degree programme in medicine that’s recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC). This is followed by a two-year foundation training programme to qualify as a registered Medical Practitioner. Candidates then enter a postgraduate training programme in anaesthesia, which typically lasts seven to eight years. During this time, they must pass the Fellowship of the Royal College of Anaesthetics (FRCA) examination. Once they have completed their specialist training, candidates obtain a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT). This enables them to join the specialist register of the GMC and apply for consultant-level posts.


Anaesthetist salary expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary for an Anaesthetist in the UK is £92,380 per year. Salaries vary, depending on factors like location and level of experience.


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Anaesthetist job description FAQs


What are the hours of an Anaesthetist?

Anaesthetists typically work in hospitals and have long work hours. The job normally involves shift work, which includes working evenings and over weekends. They are also often on call for emergencies and must be able to respond very quickly.


What is the difference between an Anaesthetist and a Nurse Anaesthetist?

The main difference between an Anaesthetist and a Nurse Anaesthetist is that the former is a Specialist Doctor and the latter is a Registered Nurse. Nurse Anaesthetists assist Anaesthetists by providing care for patients before and after anaesthesia and oversee patient recovery. In some medical settings, however, Nurse Anaesthetists are the main providers of anaesthesia.


Who does an Anaesthetist report to?

Anaesthetists report to different people depending on where they work. Those who work in hospitals are likely to report to a Chief Physician or to members of an executive team.

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