Profile of an Anesthesiologist: Renwick
Questions and Answers
1) Tell me about your job. Is what you do different in any way from what others in your occupation do?
I work in a community hospital in a mid-size city, with a broad range of services. I provide anesthesia services in operating and delivery rooms, occasionally elsewhere for example, x-ray for diagnostics, I also do pre-op anesthesia consultations and post-op care, most related to post-op pain service. In addition, I do some critical, mostly ventilator care in ICU. There is also some teaching of RTs (respiratory therapists) paramedics, and resident anesthesiologists.
2) Can you tell me about your background and how you got into this field?
I did a life sciences undergraduate degree and then I went to medical school. After medical school I completed three years of specialty training as part of the post-grad period.
Until near the end of my undergraduate medical training, I would not have expected to be interest this anesthesiology, but I was exposed to it in my first inter rotation and it really captured my interest. I was attracted to the field because it gave me the opportunity to do a combination of clinical and technical or mechanical work.
3) What personal characteristics are required for someone to be successful in your job?
Anesthesiologists must be technically proficient because there is a lot of hands-on activity. For example, they must be able to work with IVs, and monitoring equipment. They must perform airway management techniques, invasive or internal procedures, and blood pressure monitoring.
They must be organized thinkers, because they will have to assess the clinical situation, analyze information and diagnose logically.
The ability to multitask is also important since they may have multiple urgent procedures or responsibilities and they should be able to stay cool under stress.
They should also be able to work in close quarters such as the operating room.
4) How much job security is there for people in your field?
Anesthesiologists have a high degree of job security. The length of time that someone can work in this field is limited only by personal choice, health, and if there are mandatory retirement rules, for example, university appointment teaching centres.
There are alternate positions available in other communities and provinces. Canadian training and specialization is portable within Canada assuming that certification is maintained.
5) What other jobs could you do with the skills you have gained in this field?
You could go into critical care medicine taking broader care of patients as a doctor in a trauma unit for example. With additional training they could also work as airline pilots. That job consists in large part of taking in info and monitoring and adjusting controls. They could also apply to an astronaut program since the skills they want are standard. In 80's I applied and made it past 1st round. They could also be involved with scientific experimentation of anesthesia, drugs, equipment and a lab that does clinical research.
6) What do you think the future holds for people in your occupation?
Different types of medications will be administered in different ways, working in combination. There will be alternate drug delivery systems, for example, transdermal or through the skin if the patient is unconscious. There will be a gradual trend away from fee for service to salary among doctors. Surgeries such as gall bladder surgery will be non-invasive and patients will spend less time in hospital. People will have fewer side effects to medicine.
7) What are the biggest challenges in your job?
Dealing with patients who have more than one disease, most commonly cardio respiratory and heart and lung disease which complicates what we can give them, because of side effects and the things that can happen. The type, amount, and timing of dosages are all complicated.
8) Are there many opportunities in your field? What should people do to get started?
There is a shortage of anesthesiologists across Canada and in many other parts of the world. Medical schools are increasing the number of places, but there will still be a strong demand. There will also be a shortage in the future because there is increasing demand for them and a decreasing supply.
Get an undergraduate university degree with the prerequisite subjects and then get into an MD program and then complete specialty training.
One thing I like about working in anesthesiology is the technical and hands-on aspects of the work: starting IVs, airway management, doing nerve blocks, spinals, things like that. I really enjoy being able to make things work.
I also enjoy the clinical challenge of finding the right mix of medications or anesthetic techniques for the individual patient. For example, the right mix of anesthetic agents to get an older person through a gallbladder operation without overtaxing his delicate heart condition.
Finally, I enjoy the team atmosphere of working closely with surgeons, nurses, respiratory therapists, housekeepers, everyone. It's a very team oriented type of work.
One thing that no one in this profession really likes is the long hours. In hospitals, one of the anesthesiologists has to be on call each night in case of emergencies. So you may do a long day at work, and even work through the evening doing emergencies, finally get to go home and then have to get out of bed and come back in at one in the morning or even later to do more surgery.
The other thing that you run into occasionally that I dislike is patients with unreasonable expectations. Most surgical experiences still take time and involve the whole day for the patient: pre-op, the OR, recovery, post-op care. We do get people who seem to believe that the whole process should be over and done with in minutes. People like that can be a bit difficult to deal with.
Well, get ready for a long haul. It takes almost ten years of training to become an anesthesiologist, and that's after doing an undergraduate degree. But the journey is very interesting, and it is a very rewarding and interesting career, and one that you'll probably stay in for your whole life.
A Day in the Life
6:00 am - 7:00 am Working out in the gym.
8:00am - 9:00 am Arriving at work, meeting first patient, discussing medical history, upcoming procedure, example knee ligament replacement, set prepped for OR.
9:00 am - 9:30 am Set up equipment.
9:30 am -11:00 am Operation starts, administer local and/or general anesthetic; monitor patient on an ongoing basis.
11: 00 am - 12:00 pm Take patient to recovery room, tell staff about medication and operation and what to look for; remain with patient if any problems.
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm Second operation starts, orthoscopic removal of torn cartilage in knee; administer local and/or general anesthetic; monitor patient on an ongoing basis.
1:30 pm - 2:00 pm Take patient to recovery room, tell staff about medication and operation and what to look for; remain with patient if any problems.
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm Third operation starts, removing metal plate from previously fractured ankle; administer local and/or general anesthetic; monitor patient on an ongoing basis.
3:30 pm - 4:00 pm Take patient to recovery room, tell staff about medication and operation and what to look for; remain with patient if any problems.
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm Reviewing charts, medications, and lab results for tomorrow's patients.
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm Board meeting (I serve on several community-oriented boards for access centres, United Way, and the local riding association).
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm Supper at home
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm Managing my practice and taking care of billings, mail, emails, professional association homework.
9:00 pm - 9:30 pm Watch the news and then go to bed.