Ask the Graduate: trainee anaesthetist  - blog post image

Ask the Graduate: trainee anaesthetist

RO Central Team - Monday, April 01, 2019
Posted 21 days ago

April 2019

Will Green: A day in the life of a anaesthetist

Hello! I’m Will, I studied medicine at Newcastle University and graduated in 2013. I am currently a trainee in anaesthetics.

When I wrote my personal statement, I said that the best thing about medicine is that it isn’t a path from A to B, but a starting point to any number of possible destinations, and I very much still believe that! A day in my life is very different to a lot of my colleagues who have chosen different specialities, even in my short career I have had the opportunity to try my hand at lots of different branches of medicine!

My day starts at 07:30, when I go and see patients on the operating list for that morning. I go over their history, look at their blood tests and work out what the best anaesthetic for their operation. Once all the patients have been seen, we have a meeting with the consultant anaesthetist, the surgical team and the nursing team and go over the morning’s work. We then get cracking, in turn, getting the patient into theatre, getting them sorted and then off to sleep for their operation, and getting them safely woken up afterwards. It’s very satisfying and interesting work, however I think I’m a bit biased when it comes to anaesthetics!

My career started in 2013, when I rotated through my “foundation years”, doing 4 month stints in respiratory medicine, general surgery, orthopaedic surgery, paediatrics, A&E and GP. I then started my specialty training in anaesthetics. Every doctor does a two year foundation period where they rotate through different specialties, but it is after that point that the real fun begins!

The degree itself is great fun, a good mix of core science, practical skills and patient encounters. As some of you may know it is a bit different from other degrees in that it is longer (5 years) and you spend a lot of time on placement in hospital as opposed to the lecture theatre. The overall aim is to get the knowledge needed and learn the essential skills to be a competent doctor. Throughout the degree you will get exposed to many of the possible avenues of the medical profession.

There is a match for every skill set in medicine. Some careers rely on practical skills, some rely on a purely cerebral approach. Some problems require assertiveness, some require negotiation. The common denominator is that every branch of medicine focuses on solving problems to help the patient. Some medical specialties do not have direct patient contact (microbiology, radiology, public health to name a few) but still have vital roles in providing patient care. You work in a wider team of not just medics, but nurses, allied healthcare professionals and non-clinical team members, and interacting with so many different people, all with their role to play, is one of the best bits about the job. The big joy comes from interacting with patients, providing not just healthcare but support and compassion. You see people at their best and worst, at their strongest and at their most vulnerable and it is a privilege to be part of it.

Common skills needed for success would be an aptitude for science, problem solving and tenacity. Every specialty involves working in a team, and good team playing skills are vital to any role. As you are often looked to as a leader, it is helpful to be able to demonstrate leadership skills. It is not an easy life, resilience is a helpful skill, but you have a good support network with your friends and other staff members.

The NHS is changing, and I am sure the NHS that you will graduate into will be very different to the NHS in which I started working. Many of the difficulties are faced by a lot of the public sector, cuts, mismatch of expectations and what is realistic to deliver and political interference. That said, what will carry the future of healthcare in the UK will be the skilled and dedicated staff, who will do whatever it takes to provide care to their patients, and if you have the intelligence, dedication and skill to join us as a doctor then it will be a pleasure to count you among our colleagues.

Good luck!