Sunday, July 16, 2006

Flashback: Anesthesiology

Category: Clinical Rotations

After I did a two week rotation in Radiology, I did a two week rotation in Anesthesiology - and it was a miserable. Why? Because I was terrible. The doctor I worked with set me one major, focused goal: get intubations. I was absolutely the most inept intubater ever. I spent most of my days in the OR feeling clumsy, uncoordinated, and very incompetent. I decided that if anyone ever needed an emergency intubation and I was the only one around, they'd just have to die. I was frustrated, disgusted, and sweaty. I practiced relentlessly on the dummy (whose poor lips were torn to shreds) to no avail it seemed. But the moral here is that persistence is the key. Right in my last two days, for crying out loud, I started getting those stupid intubations. First try. Even in people with teeth. I still didn't get a high enough number to satisfy either me or the doctor, but I had improved pretty drastically. I said to my doc, "I can't believe I'm finally getting these intubations on the last two days. If this were a month long rotation I believe I would have gotten the hang of it." He agreed with me, and I believe he was sincere and not just humoring me, and I felt better.

Besides, I did well on his dumb ol' quizzes and I successfully did a spinal block. I whined and begged to do epidurals but he wouldn't let me. He was pleased with my little anesthesiology pre-rounds and we got along very nicely. He was just as frustrated as I was that I was hopelessly pathetic at first. His responses ranged from, "C'mon, dummy, he doesn't have teeth for God's sake!" to "Is there something I'm doing wrong? Could I be teaching you better?"

But again: all's well that ends well. Finally. Anyway, that was my personal experience with that particular specialty, nightmare as it was. But anesthesiology has become pretty hot in recent years. Here are some stats.

  • Training: 1 transitional year plus 3 residency years for a total of 4 years
  • Average annual salary: $250,000
  • Subspecialties: Critical care, pain management, pediatric anesthesiology
  • Duties: An anesthesiologist is trained to provide pain relief and maintenance, or restoration of a stable condition during and immediately following an operation, an obstetric or diagnostic procedure. The anesthesiologist assesses the risk of the patient's condition prior to, during and after surgery. They provide medical management and consultation in pain management and critical care medicine.
  • Lifestyle: Generally speaking, great hours. Call is shared with other anesthiologists and nurse anesthetists.
  • Residency competetiveness: high

To learn more about anesthesiology, click here.


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