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What Is Anesthesiology?

Anesthesiology is defined by the dictionary as a “branch of medicine dealing with anesthesia and anesthetics.” And of course that requires the definition of anesthesia: “loss of feeling in a person’s body or part of the body through the use of drugs.” Anesthesiology has moved much further than that. The field now means that the anesthesiologist is a perioperative consultant. The practice of anesthesiology is more than just rendering a patient insensible to pain so that the surgeon can operate. Anesthesiologists are leaders in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and provide care in a variety of settings—the operating room (OR), the endoscopy suite, the radiology/imaging suite, the electrophysiology laboratory, places where electroconvulsive therapy is performed, and the intensive care unit, to name a few. Anesthesiologists are also heavily involved in administrative functions in the perioperative setting and with hospital and OR committees and often serve important roles in hospital administration. They may be engaged in schools of medicine in teaching and other roles.

Table 1Definition of the Practice of Anesthesiology Within the Practice of Medicine.1

A brief word about anesthesiology training: Anesthesiologists must first complete at least four years of medical school; some do more to get research experience and PhDs or other advanced degrees. After that, they must complete a base year of residency or internship, typically in internal medicine, surgery, or transitional medicine. The core anesthesiology residency is three years long and follows this base year. After that, many anesthesiologists decide to pursue subspecialty fellowship training in a variety of fields—adult cardiothoracic anesthesiology, pediatric anesthesiology, pediatric cardiac anesthesiology, obstetric anesthesiology, pain medicine, critical care medicine, neuroanesthesia, transplant anesthesia, research fellowships, and more. All in all, you would have four years of medical school, four years of residency training, and then one or more years of fellowship training.

How to Have an Amazing Anesthesiology Rotation

  1. Prepare to use your hands. This will be some of the most hands-on pharmacology and physiology you will encounter. It will also be very procedurally oriented. This will be one of your ...

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