Reflection on Anesthesia: Rotation 3.2

In Uncategorized on October 16, 2012 by David

Anesthesia was great. I got to do more with my hands – more procedures, intubations, and IVs in two weeks than six months of the rest of the year. I think it was also really exciting to learn about physiology and to see the various types of surgeries people underwent – without having to scrub in and not be able to scratch your nose for 6 hours. The hours weren’t too bad – I worked really hard, but in general was still able to get in at 6 and finish by around 5. It’s actually quite nice to leave work and still have the sun out. I kind of missed that.

One thing I do miss was that it wasn’t as intellectual as internal medicine. You know what the patient is here for and you know what you need to do for the patient – I missed asking leading questions and coming up with crazy differentials. The people seem genuinely nice, had time to teach, and enjoyed their work. It seems really superficial, but I felt anesthesia was more like nursing than being a physician. It’s really important to get the logistics right – to intubate well, have good IV access, and
One of the resident’s described anesthesia as the best of all possible jobs, but perhaps not the best possible careers. As a job, anesthesia is almost unbeatable. Reasonably good hours, get to work with your hands, do things that clearly affect the patient, and make good money. It isn’t too stressful and you get to be quite good and comfortable with what you do. All the signs of a good job.

However, there isn’t much room for advancement – anesthesia is not scalable. Anesthesia is rather mercenary – you are contracted by the hospital to provide a service, so there is limited incentive to provide better care or be more efficient. You aren’t the physician directly sought by the patient, so it is very much an ancillary role. You will be paid reasonably well, but there isn’t much room to go up, and there isn’t many paths that directly stem from your skill as an anesthesiologist. You have to be in the room, and a 10x anesthesiologist will not be 10x as efficient as an average anesthesiologist. As someone who is still young, ambitious, and foolish – it seems rather scary to me to have the same job for twenty years. I can’t imagine that I will have the same passions, priorities, and goals that I have now.

I think anesthesia would be a great career if I wanted to settle down, raise a family, and be able to spend a lot of time with my family. But it’s not a career to be hungry, take risks, and do ambitious things. I’m not quite where I am going to be. One thing that I realized after doing anesthesia is that it is possible to be physically comfortable, but mentally unsatisfied. I do not need golden handcuffs just yet – I am still hungry.


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