An anesthetist is a physician who plays a crucial role in patient care and surgery. They work as part of the surgical team to ensure that proper levels of general or local anesthetic are properly delivered, as well as monitor the effects of the anesthetic on the patient throughout the procedure. While in many common surgical situations, a trained nurse anesthetist is utilized in a similar role, doctors trained in the specialty are generally sought for more complex and delicate operations, particularly those involving the central nervous system and other vital organs.
As a licensed physician, this anesthetist is typically called upon to offer advice and assist in pre-operative consultations on how the anesthetic is delivered and to what extent. Because over-administration of the anesthetic may result in post-operative complications for the patient, the anesthetist is always looking to deliver the smallest amount necessary to keep the patient "under" while the rest of the surgical team operates. The anesthetist also may be the person tasked with administering the initial intravenous (IV) injection through which the anesthesia is delivered. The anesthetist also must determine beforehand that all monitoring equipment and sensors are properly calibrated and working correctly.
To work in this field, a person must first complete a medical degree from an accredited university program. The anesthetist should expect his or her studies to focus on this discipline, and post-graduate internship and residency will also need to involve this specialty. A doctor who specializes as an anesthetist typically works in a specialized hospital or clinical setting, and should expect to work fairly regular business hours during the week, although this may vary depending on the institution's needs.