Anesthetists are the people who put a patient to sleep for surgery or other medical procedures. It is essential that they have an extensive knowledge base regarding medications, gases, and the human body. They are essentially responsible for administering, maintaining, and reversing anesthesia. An anesthesiologist is a physician who specializes in anesthesia. A nurse anesthetist is a registered nurse who has completed several years of postgraduate training and is capable of administering anesthesia under the oversight of an anesthesiologist.
The anesthetist is an essential member of the surgical team. He manages the anesthesia, leaving the surgeon free to concentrate on the surgery. The anesthetist takes away a sense of accomplishment and pride from his work. He works with patients to put them at ease prior to their surgery, then follows up and reassures them afterwards. They make a substantial impact in the life of those undergoing surgery.
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An anesthetist works in an operating room and puts people to sleep. He uses a combination of gas and intravenous medications to induce unconsciousness. He then maintains the patient in that state until their operation or procedure is complete. Once the surgeon has indicated that the operation is complete, the anesthetist begins to decrease the agents he used and to wake the patient up.
The anesthetist must monitor the patient closely to make any adjustments that are needed in medication dosing. Evaluation of the patient’s blood pressure, heart rate, and other measurements help him determine the effectiveness of the anesthesia. The anesthetist is also responsible for maintaining the patient’s airway. This is usually accomplished through the use of an intubation tube. The tube allows the anesthetist to protect and control the airway, thus assuring that the patient is breathing effectively.
Being an anesthetist requires a person who understands the body and how things work. An anesthetist must be able to comprehend how the anesthetic agents he uses affect the human body. He must be comfortable dealing with bodily secretions and handling high tech equipment. The ability to communicate effectively with other team members is also essential.
The candidate must be a registered nurse with a master’s degree in nursing to enter the anesthetist program. The candidate must be in satisfactory standing with his local board of nursing. Most nurses have experience in emergency or intensive care environments. Potential anesthetists must be comfortable talking and working with patients. They have to perform complex procedures such as intubation and insertion of intravenous lines.
The anesthetist must complete an accredited program to obtain his license. There are numerous programs in North America that offer the education necessary to become licensed. The entrance requirements vary from college to college. Most require a master’s degree in nursing, though some still allow bachelor’s degrees if the candidate has sufficient experience as a nurse.
University of Maryland School of Nursing: This program takes approximately 28 months to complete. The curriculum provides intense instruction in the classroom and the clinical setting. Graduates are eligible to take the national certification license examination. The school offers a combination of web-based and traditional classroom courses.
University of Southern California Program of Nurse Anesthesia: The Keck School of Medicine at USC provides students with a varied and intense educational program. The school offers students a state-of-the-art university that uses high-tech equipment and an updated curriculum approach. Competition for entry is intense due the school’s world-renowned reputation.
The anesthetist can work in a hospital, outpatient surgery clinic, or office-based surgery center. The environment is clinical and filled with high-tech equipment. The anesthetist will work with other health care members including surgeons, nurses, and OR techs. The sterile environment requires the use of masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment. The OR is kept cold to reduce bacteria.
An anesthetist can expect to view live surgical procedures, blood and other body fluids and unpleasant smells. During intubation the anesthetist must insert the intubation tube into the lungs of the patient. He must be comfortable performing this and other medical procedures. In addition, the anesthetist must meet with and educate his patients regarding what to expect from anesthesia before a procedure.
Work hours can vary significantly depending on the normal workload of the institution. Most anesthetists can expect to work between 6 am and midnight. He also needs to be on call and available at the hospital within 30 minutes in the event that a patient must have emergency surgery.
The salary range changes based on experience, geographical location, and other factors. According to government and private sources the median salary is around $150,000 per year. The job growth rate is expected to increase by 26% in the next five years as demands of an aging population increase.
Realistically a new graduate can expect to earn $90,000 to $120,000 per year. With several years of successful experience the anesthetist can see earnings of over $200,000 annually. These salaries reflect the responsibility that the anesthetist shoulders. He must also carry malpractice insurance, and premiums can be rather expensive.
Being an anesthetist is an honorable profession that is looked upon favorably by the community. An anesthetist makes a sufficient salary to provide a comfortable living for his family.