- Work as a specialist doctor with in-demand skills
- Requires dedication, you'll go through lengthy training and have demanding work patterns
- Excellent progression routes to highly paid, senior roles
Anaesthetists are fully-qualified specialist doctors who administer anaesthetics for surgery.
They are the largest group of hospital-based specialists and give anaesthetics for surgical, medical and psychiatric procedures.
They facilitate pain-free childbirth, resuscitate acutely unwell patients, run chronic pain services and lead intensive care units.
You will be involved in the preparation, induction and maintenance of, and recovery from anaesthesia. This could involve:
- Preparing patients for surgery by explaining any risks or side effects
- Giving anaesthetics to patients
- Observing and monitoring patients during surgery
- Resuscitating and stabilising patients in the emergency department
- Relieving pain during childbirth
- Easing pain after an operation
- Managing acute and chronic pain
- Helping psychiatric patients receiving electric shock therapy
- You may also give anaesthetics to patients having operations outside the operating theatre, such as radiology and radiotherapy, and in dental surgeries.
It’s your responsibility to care for a patient for the duration of their operation. Being prepared for the unexpected can be exciting but also challenging at times.
You'll normally work long hours including nights and weekends, and you'll be part of an out-of-hours rota system. You'll work in consulting rooms, wards, operating theatres and special units like accident and emergency in the NHS.
You'll need to have good thinking and reasoning skills, have excellent attention to detail, and work well under pressure.
To become an anaesthetist you'll need to complete a 5-year degree in medicine recognised by the General Medical Council, then a 2-year foundation programme of general training, followed by up to 8 years of specialist training.
You may be able to join a 6-year degree course in medicine if you have no A levels or equivalent qualifications in science. This includes a one-year pre-medical foundation year.
If you already have an upper second class or first class science degree, you could take a 4-year graduate entry route into medicine. Some universities will also accept non-science graduates.
When you apply for a course in medicine, you could be asked to take the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) or BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) to check your suitability for a career in medicine.
There's a lot of competition for places on medical degrees and most university admissions departments will be looking for people who have done some relevant paid or voluntary experience.
Entry requirements for medical degrees are very specific and you will normally be expected to have:
At least 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English, maths and a science, 3 A levels at grade A in chemistry and either biology, physics or maths, plus another academic subject
You'll also need to pass an enhanced background check as you'll be working in a healthcare setting with vulnerable people.
You may find opportunities to work in the private sector. With experience you might lead or manage departments. With experience and entry on the General Medical Council (GMC) Specialist Register, you could apply for senior (or consultant) roles.
You could also teach medical students, postgraduate doctors in training, nurses, midwives and paramedics.