Anesthesiologists are physicians with extensive training in anesthesia administration, pain management and critical care management. They spend four years each in college, medical school and residency to learn their skills, and must be licensed in all states. Most anesthesiologists are also board-certified in their specialty. Anesthesiologists have specific duties and responsibilities.
Start at the Beginning
An anesthesiologist’s role begins with a preoperative examination of the patient to identify potential problems -- such as heart disease or breathing difficulties -- that could increase anesthesia risks. During surgery, the anesthesiologist uses medications and machinery to keep the patient breathing, monitors and adjusts heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, body temperature and body fluid balance. When the operation is over, the anesthesiologist administers other medications to reverse the effects of anesthesia. After the operation, the anesthesiologist provides pain management, using a variety of techniques and medications.
Outside the Operating Room
In addition to their responsibilities in the operating room, anesthesiologists provide critical care medicine. The anesthesiologist works as part of a team to provide support for a patient’s heart, circulation and breathing. Anesthesiologists provide care during procedures such as cardiac catheterizations, specialized radiological imaging procedures and other procedures outside the operating room. The anesthesiologist might supervise other members of the team, such as anesthesia assistants and technicians. Anesthesiologists also conduct or participate in research to develop new medications, design new anesthesia techniques or improve monitoring to help keep patients safe during surgery.
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