In addition to the surgical procedure itself, another essential aspect of any surgery is proper anesthesia. Therefore in junior surgery, we take turns in the anesthetist position. I’ve been anesthetist twice now and thoroughly enjoyed the experience both times.
As anesthetist, you’re responsible for making sure your patient is healthy from before the surgery starts until after the patient has recovered. We must assess the patient’s overall health by doing a physical exam, analyzing the blood work, and monitoring. The morning of surgery, we’re there bright and early to do one last physical exam before we get going for the day. We’re responsible for coming up with the anesthetic plan, including figuring out the dosages and then administering the drugs. Additionally, the anesthetist catheterizes, induces, and intubates the patient, while monitoring vital signs the whole time. Once the patient is prepped and ready to go in to the operating room, the anesthetist stays right there, making sure the depth of anesthesia is appropriate and that the patient continues to do well during the procedure.
It’s a lot of responsibility doing anesthesia; every time a patient is anesthetized, there is always the risk of complications. However, I find it very rewarding. It’s a logical process but a delicate balance. For example, if the patient is develops bradycardia (lowered heart rate), you check the patient, check the equipment, and then make any needed corrections. Or no changes may be needed if the patient is handling the bradycardia adequately. It’s a lot of decisions to make and involves constant and diligent monitoring, but I enjoy seeing my patient wake up in the end after a surgery well done.