What Is An Anaesthetist?

Dr Paul Goonan - What Is An Anaesthetist?

In Australia, specialist Anaesthetists are among the world’s most highly trained doctors.  After completing a degree in medicine (about 6 years) and working for a minimum of 2-3 years to gain practical experience, doctors may then choose an area of medicine to specialise in.

Doctors wishing to become specialist anaesthetists must complete at least a further 5 years of post-graduate anaesthetic training whilst working in a hospital that has a training program accredited by the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA).  During this time, the anaesthetist will be comprehensively trained in all aspects of medicine related to the care of a patient undergoing surgery. Anaesthetists are trained to take care of a patient before, during and after surgery in addition to managing medical emergencies, resuscitation, intensive care and pain management.

According to ANZCA, “Clinical anaesthesia is built on the knowledge of physiology (how the body works) and pharmacology (how medications work in the body). A thorough understanding is required about the ways in which the body responds to anaesthesia and surgery, and how these physiological responses are affected and altered by the patient’s health. Anaesthetists must have an extensive knowledge of medicine and surgery”.

Recognition as a specialist anaesthetist is granted once the doctor has completed the training program and passed the examinations of the College of Anaesthetists.

Once a Specialist Anaesthetist has completed their training, many will continue into subspecialties within the field of anaesthesia. This includes cardiothoracic anaesthesia, paediatric anaesthesia, obstetric anaesthesia and intensive care.

To maintain Australia’s high standard of practice means that every Specialist Anaesthetist must take part in a Continuing Medical Education (CME) program ran by the College – this ensures they stay up to date with the rapid changes which take place in Anaesthesia and Medicine.


Please click here to access additional information and resources about anaesthesia.